I don’t usually get too personal with blog posts, but I had a little voice in my head and a deep-seated feeling within my whole being to be an example of vulnerability, truth and of course, gratitude this week.
As some of you may know, being a “sensi-seeker”, or what some may call an empath or even a “highly sensitive person”, it is not easy for us to put our heart out there. We will be the first ones to be there for another and listen with a compassionate ear. However, since the pain of rejection (and similar repercussions) of being vulnerable are at stake, we keep a guard up, a lot of the time.
Well, in honor of Thanksgiving week, and Canada’s Thanksgiving last month (as I am Canadian), I am going to write a love letter to everyone I know and don’t know. The ultimate act of gratitude.
What Inspired Me
Recently, I have been reading the book, “Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames” by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk, and spiritual teacher. In the last few years, I have been struggling with my anger and trying to learn how to deal with it in a truly healthy way. I tried “expressing” it through hitting a pillow, etc. like many therapists recommend but it never got better. If anything, I felt like it was getting worse. Thich also talks about this very dangerous method in Chapter Nine, and what to do instead.
I hated feeling this way towards others and myself. When I looked up self-help books for anger, I decided to try a different route, a more spiritual route. And let me tell you, even if you don’t have any anger, this book is amazingly transformative. It teaches you how to turn your negative feelings into peaceful ones and at the same time, heal your relationships.
Gratitude Will Save You
So what does this have to do with Thanksgiving? Well, first of all, holidays are filled with events involving family and friends, which can trigger A LOT of emotions, such as anger. Needless to say, this book could be a lifesaver.
More specifically, at one point it talks about Love Letters and that it is a lost practice. And I don’t just mean between lovers, but friends, family members etc. It tells a story about a woman who is in a broken marriage but while her husband is away for work, she discovers old love letters. Reading these love letters, “she watered the seeds of happiness within herself.”
It talks about this “watering” a lot throughout the book. Basically, to elicit more happiness, you have to water (give loving attention) to the happiness, instead of the suffering within us (which many of us do instead). We focus on what people aren’t doing for us, instead of APPRECIATING how they enrich our lives.
The Heart Sutra
After reading these letters, of course, this woman is inspired to write a love letter to her husband, with the intention of watering his seeds of happiness and thus, begin healing their relationship.
Thich also talks about creating a “heart sutra” that is yours and using these moments of gratitude (when you are so thankful for that other person in your life that you are full of compassion and love). He says it is not enough to just say to them verbally you are thankful for them. He says it is better to go to a quiet space and put your whole being in that feeling and write these loving feelings down.
Basically, this way you are using this very high and positive vibration to transform your inner-being. This way it can awaken within you more regularly. The plant of happiness, gratitude, compassion, and love can then fully blossom. “The moment of gratitude is a moment of enlightenment, of mindfulness, of intelligence.”
Furthermore, he advises, keeping this “heart sutra” close by, so in moments of anger or other negative emotions, (when you forget your true “Buddha” nature) you can remember and again, water the seeds of happiness instead.
This is what this letter is. It is my heart sutra to everyone and everything. I will privately write ones for specific people (especially the ones I have troubled relationships with) but for now, I wanted to awaken the loving power of gratitude, and hopefully inspire others to do the same.
Dear those of you who I love, loved before, disliked, hated and don’t even know,
Thank you for your presence. Thank you for being here on Earth, at this moment. I know it probably has been a hard journey. Each day you wake up, is a gift. There are reasons why you are here. If you don’t know them, and even if others don’t know them, it does not matter.
Every day, you are brave enough to face whatever it has for you in store. Every day, every moment you are alive has value. Your presence matters. You affect others and others affect you. We can never live a day where our presence does not matter. Even if you are sleeping in a room all day and do not interact with anyone, you still are shaping the world around you.
Without each unique presence, the world cannot be the way it is. The world is the way it is because of every living and non—living thing. Good or bad, it does not matter because, through every moment, there are lessons to be learned and growth for humanity to be accomplished.
Thank you to every person who I thought or think hurts me. Thank you for teaching me about me. Thank you for allowing me to realize the duality of the universe. Thank you for teaching me to have compassion for my own “dark” side. For I too, have judged too harshly, made inconsiderate comments and felt enraged. Out of destruction, comes creation and this is the most important lesson I can learn.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to create a more dynamic, and enlightened self. Without you, I would be lost in the long search of seeking perfection, on all levels. When the truth is we can’t be in bliss all the time through seeking pleasures and outside perfection. Only through the destruction of the self, can we access our true nature and bliss.
Thank you to every kind, compassionate, generous, authentic, loving, and over-all, inspiring living and non-living thing. You mirror to me, what my true and blissful self is. Without you, I would be lost in darkness and never know how to find my way out.
Without you, there would be no hope, faith or certainty of anything to truly aspire to. You warm my heart and soul and every other person or thing that comes into contact with you.
Thank you for your light and humorous nature. Always teaching me to not be too serious. To be playful, innocent and kind-hearted. Laughter has always been a healing act for myself and I am sure many others. Without you, life would be heavy and the ego would be all-encompassing. Keep teaching us to laugh at life and at ourselves. As we are as insignificant, as we are significant.
Although this is included in the above, a special thank you to Mother Nature. For this, is ALL of our true nature. Destruction and creation, hot and cold, water and fire, windy and calm, night and day. How boring would everything be without this beautiful and natural way? Thank you for teaching me that change is constant and inevitable. Thank you for teaching me to be brave and to stay true to the same intelligence that lies within you, as it is also within me.
I am so grateful to every person who I have come into contact with. You shaped who I am. And, although I probably never told you, my day was enriched because of you. Whether you were driving a little too slow for my liking, or whether you were the kind stranger that paid for my coffee, I can’t thank you enough for teaching me in that moment something about myself, about nature, about humanity, and about the universe.
Never underestimate the value you hold. Every small act, thought, or word spoken can and does affect everyone and everything. You will never know how perfectly significant and insignificant you are. It does not matter.
Even if I am the only person who ever tells you this, please trust me when I say: You ARE one of life’s most precious gifts, because you embody life’s most precious gifts (i.e. love, creation, etc.). We are gifts to each other, now and forever.
Peace, Love, and Light, always,
Sarah -Heart Dancer Womin- (given Native name)
Even if you don’t do anything this holiday season. Even if you give no one gifts and you go to no parties. It does not matter. What matters most is awakening and realizing your compassionate and true nature. As this will be the greatest act of love for yourself, people around you and humanity at large. This letter has brought me to tears of ecstasy. I wish the same for you. But not from reading my letter, but from creating your own.
Thich says that the original Heart Sutra is a scripture that Buddhists chant over and over to enlighten the Buddha within, as it is the essence of Buddha’s teachings. However, suggesting to us that we create our own heart sutra(s) can be far more impactful and transformative, as “it comes from your heart- not from the heart of a Bodhisattva or the Buddha, but from your own heart. It is your Heart Sutra.”
Gratitude List vs. Gratitude Letter
I am sure many of you have heard of gratitude lists, journals, and challenges- where usually you are to write down what you are thankful for, more in a point form manner. This is a very powerful process, especially if you also write down WHY you are grateful for those specific things or people.
I have done both the list way and the above letter method, quite a few times (the letter form, most of the time without even realizing I did so). And what I have found, especially after doing the intentional letter above, I found a gratitude love letter to be much more powerful. As I was writing it and every time I read it, I feel a very deep love, connection to all that is and what it really means to be and feel compassionate.
I don’t suggest you never doing the list-way, as it is very helpful and convenient when done as a short daily task, but I think it is important to at least write one love letter of gratitude. Even better, do several for specific people or things/situations. Remember it is easiest and most impactful if you do so in the moments that naturally come when you feel overwhelming gratitude. The more you practice this skill of compassion, the more it will show up in your life- for others and for yourself. It is the most powerful tool for living a truly joyful life.
Pass it On
I am not typically so blatant in my requests but, I am asking you, as my readers to share this article. Why? Well, this article is a bit different because it includes a letter to not only my readers who stumble upon my work, but it is meant for literally everyone. I am sure it cannot get to everyone. But this is my intention: to have this divine love that was spoken through me to be heard by all. And to give everyone a chance to experience this great compassion for themselves, through the writing process suggested.
Even if they don’t hear it from me, I really don’t care. My hope is that they hear and feel it anyway. It is not explainable in words, the type of love that is created out of practices such as this. And, as cliché as it may sound, everyone deserves to be loved, and truly feel it in its purest form: compassion.
If you feel inspired on any level, please share this wherever you feel comfortable. Also, if you take the time to write your own Heart Sutra please comment below. Or, send me a private message with your results. I would love to hear!
And, one more thing…writing in general, has been extremely helpful for me in my healing journey. If you would like to learn more about other writing techniques that can heal your inner-being and bring more joy and peace into your life, then you will love this free 5-part e-mail writing course, that I created just for brave souls like yourself! So, get your pen out (or should I say wand?) and begin your beautiful transformation today.