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Musings: The Power of Gratitude

The holidays are upon us. As we enter the eve of Thanksgiving it is important to cultivate a strong mindset of gratitude irrespective of the many challenges we may all be facing. This is a time when there is a sense of good cheer and celebration in the air all over the world. Many are in a happy place and yet there are others who are grappling with challenges. Illness, family disputes, discontentment, financial challenges, dealing with increasing violence in the world, navigating a tough adversarial political climate and other major challenges plague many.
How, then, can you cultivate a sense of gratitude?
From the scriptures we learn:
“Whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy” -James 1:2
It is a potent discipline to always cultivate an attitude of gratitude–even in the toughest challenges. From the Tibetan Buddhists, we discover the wisdom of the Bardo-which is when one finds oneself in a tough transitional place and feels upside down or thrown. They believe that in this space the spirit is vibrating at a high frequency and if you can tap into that (I use meditation) you can not only come through these challenges but land on higher ground. Look at some of the challenges you have successfully come through in the past and you may discover that these often tough experiences are what provided you with the biggest growth in your spiritual evolution. Even during the times when something appears to be negative, it is best to affirm that there is more to it than meets the eye.  What seems wrong may truly be a blessing in disguise. 
As Henry David Thoreau reminds us, “It’s not what you look at that matters; it’s what you see.”
Needless to say, there is no worse nightmare for a parent than losing a child, especially in a senseless violent episode.  But even at that moment on my journey – I learned that in deep trauma there is often a spark of clarity. That spark of clarity for me was to see that there were victims at both ends of the gun; that the enemy was not a young 14-year-old gang member that killed my son in a gang initiation, but rather the societal forces that lead many young souls to fall through the cracks to choose a life of gangs, crime, drugs, alcohol, weapons, and violence. In my own quest, I was able to find purpose in this devastating blow that took the life of my only son Tariq, a promising, wise, young college student working part-time as a pizza delivery person who was lured by a youth gang to a bogus address.
That purpose was to create the Tariq Khamisa Foundation, forgive my son’s killer, and invite his grandfather (and guardian) to join me in the work of TKF to focus our efforts and attention to make sure no other young souls in our community end up dead like my son or in prison like his grandson, Tony.  This tragedy that happened almost 24 years ago forever changed my life and the work I do today. Of course, I had no concept of all that would manifest in my life as a result of that choice to forgive instead of choosing hatred and resentment.  My shift internally to focus on any and all positive aftermath from that moment forward has led me to a spirit of gratitude.
“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.”   ~ Denis Waitley
I am in gratitude for the spirit guiding me to make this choice.  Of course, I wish for my son back every second of every day, but that is not possible. What is possible is to look at each incident in your life as a nudge from the higher power to put you on your spiritual path. I am in deep gratitude to my son Tariq for inspiring me on my spiritual path as I would not be doing the fulfilling work I have been doing since his passing.  Much has come my way with the success of TKF, a global speaking tour, teaching forgiveness, four books (with a fifth on the way), and most importantly a level of peace I have not previously enjoyed.
As I learned from HH the Dalai Lama all emotions have a frequency.  Certain emotions like anger, resentment, hatred, greed, avarice, and gossip have very low frequencies.  Happiness cannot reside in these lower frequency emotions.   On the other hand, emotions like friendship, goodwill, empathy, compassion, love forgiveness, and GRATITUDE have very high frequencies.  That is where happiness resides.  It is not difficult at any given moment to know where you are vibrating.  With my regular meditation practice, I am spending more time in the higher vibratory emotions.
What I have learned in my journey is that when I live in this high vibratory emotion, I am happier and remain in the flow of life.  While HH Dalai Lama and other enlightened souls live in these high vibratory emotions 24/7, we laypeople do experience hard hits and sometimes fall prey to the lower vibratory emotions.   With due introspection, reflection and seeking internal guidance, it is possible to discover bullion in life’s hardest moments.
Often in heartbreaking tragedies, there is a spark of clarity.  I was able to find purpose in the tragedy that took my only son at the young of 20.  I agree it is not easy, but as we know what is easy is not usually worthwhile. I encourage my readers to look at these seemingly unbeatable challenges as an opportunity for lessons to turbocharge your spiritual growth.   At these defining moments we all experience at some points in our lives, we are able to make powerful choices by tapping into our inner guidance.  We literally manifest transformation and a miracle in our lives.  By practicing gratitude for EVERYTHING, even the hard times and challenges, we can take the hardest lessons and turn them into gifts for ourselves and each other.
Wishing all a joyous and a blessed Thanksgiving holiday! Starting right now, I encourage you to endeavor to commit to being in GRATITUDE 24/7 during the holiday season.  This practice, besides ensuring a joyful holiday for you and your loved ones, will also enhance and resonate with the cheerful and joyful energy, typical of this time of the year, for the entire planet.
Peace and many blessings,
   Azim Khamisa
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Azim Khamisa

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