Be grateful for your difficulties and challenges, for they hold blessings. In fact we need difficulties; they are necessary for healthy personal growth, individuation and self-actualization.Carl Jung

Hello to all my fellow Travelers Within. In this month’s Newsletter, and continuing on with the weekly blog posts for February, we’ve been exploring the terrain of “Energy and Space” and how engaging in it can nurture and empower our relationships and the communities we participate in. Our first post addressed the importance of maintaining “Clean Energy and Clear Space,” and last week we delved into “The Dance of Love and Truth.” This week we venture even deeper into these two relationship-centric dimensions by exploring what I call, “Intentional Gratitude.” Let’s get started.

“Relationship” encompasses ever-expansive concentric rings of engagement ranging from our interactions with ourselves, our partners, family members, friends, communities, societies and nations, the whole of the human race, and ultimately all sentient life within the cosmos. While our sphere of engagement exponentially expands with each additional concentric ring, the underlying principle that nurtures all relationships, no matter how expansive they may be comes down to our willingness to demonstrate within them our deep understanding, care, and the topic of this week’s post, gratitude.

From Latin, “gratitudinem” means “to be thankful for and held in good will.” Thankfulness and good will are not only fundamental human virtues, they are important spiritual practices. While a formidable challenge, intentionally locating ourselves within the heart of good will of gratitude, especially when we aren’t feeling grateful is essential when it comes to nurturing our relationships and deepening our personal and spiritual growth.

To illuminate the importance of Intentional Gratitude, I still remember the day, (just two years ago next month) when I met with my physician to review some biopsy results. Dressed in an ominous dark suit sitting across from me at his desk, he inform me that I had stage 7 prostate cancer and would need to act immediately to keep it from spreading throughout my body. I was shocked and devastated, and not at all grateful for the news! Honestly my friends, it took me some time before I could muster up any thankfulness at all . . . but I knew that if I was to return to a state of wellness I would need to embrace the negativity of cancer in my body with the positivity of gratitude dwelling in my soul.

While I was not thrilled about the diagnosis or the interventions that were to come, I did indeed open to gratitude for learning about my cancer early enough so I could deal with it squarely and implement an intense, year-long holistic “Cancer Cure” treatment. Week by week and month-by-month, through highly focused intention I embraced the cancer not with a “fight” but with understanding, self-care and gratitude, a three-fold approach that turned out to be the most nurturing and healing path I could have chosen for myself as I went into complete remission within a year of engaging in my self-designed wellness program.

Showing ourselves understanding, kindness and self-care, along with a deep-seated gratitude for whatever circumstances we may find ourselves in is essential for ensuring our well-being. With all the negativity and darkness in our survival-driven world, and with all the physical and emotional tests we must face, who better to be our best friend and nurturing care-giver than ourselves?

And in terms of nurturing our relationships with others, I suggest acting upon Intentional Gratitude by expressing your thankfulness and appreciation to those you care about. And in order to deepen your gratitude for your loved ones, let them know how much they mean to you and why. By taking the time to reach out in this manner you’re sure to deepen your connection with yourself and with those you share your life with.

Let me be the first to begin with this exercise . . . I want you to know how much you mean to me, and that every day I take time to be thankful that I have fellow life travelers like you in my life who not only take an interest in exploring the world within, but make a point to nurture the goodness and greatness residing within you. Your devotion and courage to be the best human you can be inspires me and gives greater meaning to my life. I love you for it, I truly do. – Val Jon