Exploring a Simple Practice

The last two years was quite a ride for all of us. There were many challenges that created a negative ambiance - caused mostly from analysing information, warped or otherwise that we were getting from all and sundry!
How do I express my feelings of angst, uncertainty, insecurity and hopelessness? Is there anyone who would understand what I am going through? With all this running in my mind for a few weeks, I just picked up an empty notebook and a pen to write all that I was feeling.
This definitely helped. After all, aren’t we supposed to look inward for guidance? Isn’t that what all self-help, spiritual books advocate? So here I was writing away, pouring out all the emotions on the pages – the pages were getting filled, and I had a sense of relief. Did this satisfy me? Was writing spontaneously, like how one writes in a diary, the panacea for all the mental turmoil?
I started doodling on a page one day and as I looked at the art like a critic would, I felt like writing some words that seemed to complement the art work. Feeling pleased, I slept peacefully that night.
The next day, I tried the same technique – drew flowers and leaves, looked at the artwork and then the words appeared – it was magical! Are these pearls of wisdom? Are these pages filled with great artwork and new insights? Maybe not. I began to enjoy the process – it was meditative and soothing. I did not force the writing. There were days when I copied drawing or illustrations from websites (as I am not an artist) and days when I could draw and write what was there in my mind.
This new found practice felt like untangling the knots in the mind and in the heart. I began to talk about this and decided to facilitate gratitude journaling sessions for a few of my friends and relatives. They were patient with my ignorance, and amused at my sudden
enthusiasm. Gradually, both the groups – Gratitude Team and Gratitude Together, perceived a small, positive shift in my approach and in the process, the good changes in them. The participation was encouraging and all of them had interesting reflections denoting a sharp and keen intellect. Members also co facilitated sessions – it was a fun,
learning experience for all of us.
Did we just stop with journaling? We actually did a bit more. Last year, all of us from The Gratitude Together team wrote our own verses on words that create positive vibes. We framed our pages and gifted 40 framed journal pages to different cancer hospitals. This was possible because of the funds we raised collectively and a member who works with the Indian Cancer Society.
This year we pooled in funds for our member’s teacher, in her late eighties working for the welfare of underprivileged children. Mrs. Vimala Kaul is an inspiration, running her school – Guldasta in New Delhi and has received many accolades. She was kind enough to write an article for my website, https://journalmuse.net/2022/07/20/my-ikigai/ and our team generously contributed for the school.
I look at this journey with immense gratitude and humility.
I did not think for a moment my simple practice of journaling with a grateful heart can connect me to a global audience. I designed and published my own journals. I conducted a session as part of a global virtual retreat last year. One of my diligent students in Florida promptly shares her pages for the monthly prompts I give on Instagram and Facebook. I have not met her yet but she genuinely appreciates the transformation this practice has brought in her. I conduct sessions for my neighbours. I am able to take this for primary, high school students and senior school students, thanks again to all the support and love I receive at my work place, from my family and friends.
My tree of gratitude is indeed wide, having received much support, love, kindness and is ever expanding!

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