I must first say that it continues to morph and change.
I have given up the idea of a one best format or protocol. Maybe, there’s a best for me, right now, but that’s it.
I don’t advocate a grand plan, just read the book, check the boxes, and you’re good to go.
I do recommend constant experimentation, dropping things that do produce immediate results, parking things that used to work and coming back and retesting, and creating a backlog of cool hacks to try later.
So let me summarize the Gratitude practices that I use today, starting upon waking up in the morning and turning off the lights at bedtime.
[NOTE: Where I have suitable blog, you will find links to individual descriptions]
AWAKEN LYING IN BED
- Bed Yoga: Sense, feel and luxuriate in the pleasure of warmth, peace, and stillness
- Morning Beditation: Say aloud and perform four recognitions which I have printed out and pinned to the ceiling above my bed.
- Today already happened.
- It turned out better than I imagined.
- I need only to receive it unfolding.
- Things are always working out for me.”
FIRST THINGS FIRST
- Make the Bed
- Take a shower
- 10 to 30 pushups
NAKED GUY IN THE MIRROR
- Love you Back: Spoken, hand on heart, three to 10 I love you’s, mindful of what’s happening in his/your eyes and face, reflected in the mirror
- Soul’s Invocations: Spoken aloud in a soft but firm voice with the intent to broadcast through all time and space,
- May it be that I progress in the mastery of Gratitude, bringing a prevailing peace to all with harm to none.
- May it be that today the set point of my resonance rise a bit higher, increasing my levels of desire, willingness, and capacity to receive.
GETTING READY TABLE WORK
- Focus Wheel and Unity Wheel: [NOTE: I no longer use Focus Wheels. I use Unity Wheels on those occasions that I got up feeling horrible or when recovering from a vexing set-back during the day]
- Morning Scratchpad: Shorter and bit more structured version of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, emphasizing these components:
- Top of mind free associations, just whatever I woke thinking about or dream fragments
- Five Gratitudes: two from my history, two from recent interactions and one from my in-the-moment sense of being alive
- Future proof perspectives where step into the best possible futures one to three years from now, getting glimpses and sensations of being then/there.
- Power platform or my simpler four-step Unity Wheel
- Placemat intentions for the two or three key results for the day
- Day Plan Worksheet: One-page sheet with blocked areas for
- Startup checklist
- Day’s key results and key tasks
- Visual timeline for time-boxing deep work and appointments
- Trigger questions for key insights and promised
- Day’s end scorecard
FLOWING THE DAY
- Savoring the Win: Upon completing my Daily Plan, I reward myself with the day’s first cup of tea, using a double-bag of generic black tea with dark maple syrup from Trader Joe’s. See Deep Habit Patterns.
- Courting the Muse: Read an inspiring well-written book with the aim of getting into the musical cadence and rhythms of book before sitting down to write OR if already inspired with something already pressuring you to express it, just begin writing.
- Snoozitation: Short catnap with a “May it be…” invocation
- Drivitations: Cue card of invocations or blessings to say while driving
- Strollitations: Late afternoon walk with one or two “May it be…” invocations
- Process inboxes for completion, filing, or next actions of a project
- Day Plan Worksheet update with confirmed commitments on tomorrow’s worksheet
- Did My Best Today Scorecard: Rate my level of focus on the day’s work, using a scale of 1 to 10 to quantify my purely subjective performance again seven criteria.
- Savoring a Drink: Upon “closing strong”, I reward myself with one glass of wine with dinner, making sure that take a moment to appreciate the taste and feel ripples of gratitude throughout my body. It’s common that you [Anne and wife of Michael] and I will share our days with each other, while we’re eating or in bed before we watch a TV show or start reading books.
END OF DAY
- Beditation: Read three or so things from a printed placemat, tacked on the ceiling above my bed.
- Evening Journal of Gratitudes: Inscribed expressions of Gratitudes from interactions with five people that day. This might include my completing an unpleasant interaction by making it a gift.
Again, this has evolved a lot over the eight or so years that I’ve been doing this. And I expect it will continue to change and morph
I know when someone reads or hears this, they might say,
No way I can do all that!
And they’d be right. I’m not sure it’s impossible, but as improbable as scaling Mt. Everest with no oxygen support.
I’d recommend starting with an Evening Journal of Gratitudes and Placemat Intentions in the morning.
Next, I would 20 minutes of just-sitting mediation and a midday or afternoon Strollitation or walking meditation.
Evening Journal of Gratitudes
The one thing that I did starting out, that produced good results, was an Evening Journal of Gratitudes.
I took bits from everyone from Martin Seligman to Oprah and Tim Ferriss, and added some neurolinguistic tunings.
As a soul hacker, neurolinguist, mad inventor, and perfectionist, I added five things to the basic Evening Journal, making it even more powerful and long lasting in effect:
- Gifts of energy exchanged
- Game of strengths
- Single-word Breathitation
- Pre-programming tomorrow
- Faithing Protocol
STARTING MORE OF LESS IN NEUTRAL
I found that I could journal about Gratitude if I was more or less okay and not hurt, angry or panicked.
Mind you, I tried pushing through hurt or anger, attempting to impose a Gratitude on my experience. And, it never worked.
Rarely now, but something will happen during the day that really knocked me off my center or worse, send me spiraling into anger or something darker.
If it’s just beyond what I will tolerate, I will take a power nap or Snoozitation
If I’m at home, I head for my stuffed reclining chair. If I’m out and about, I’ll do this in my car. While traveling in an airplane seat, travel lounge, private conference room, or hotel room.
I already talked about the power of a spoken command or invocation directed to my Cognitive Unconscious [See Unity Wheel].
So I have added a simple invocation to a mind awake, body asleep meditation that sometimes drifts in a state of lucid dreaming or reverie associated with Theta brainwaves.
The key of this super power is that you, as the Witness (the experiential space within which someone, you, have thoughts, feelings, sensations, and movement), have a relationship with your personality-ego (the person with a name, history, a narrative, and instant reflexive responses to internal and external stimuli or cues), and a willingness to let life (thoughts, feelings, sensations, sounds, tastes, etc.) flow through this experiential space with little or no resistance.
I can’t overstate this one point.
Some part of your consciousness must operate outside and beyond the red-hot stuff of your immediate experience.
So there I am, roiling or fuming about something. I then sit in my reclining chair or whatever, pull up a light blanket or jacket to my neck, close my eyes, and say aloud with firm intent,
May it be that energy knots in my body drain away and that in 30 minutes I rise refreshed, at peace and full of zest
You could use words other than “energy knots”, such as “feelings of anger and disappointment” or “consuming sense of fear” or “experience of confusion and doubt”.
The key is not to essentialize it with phrasings such as “I am mad and frustrated” or “I’m hurt and resentful”.
That is, you want to have the experience of the stuff or life, and not to self-identify into it and becoming entangled.
This learned ability to have life flow through you is the cornerstone of Inner Freedom and milestone along the path of self-mastery.
PREPPING DEEP WORK
If I’m working on a project, and need to unplug from an annoyance or set back and get back to work, do a Snoozitation and say, again, with firm intent:
May it be that I drift into a deep meditative state, reconnecting with my intent [for the project], and rising in 30 minutes with the next-action step.
I’ve done something like this since my college days. Over the years I also read that Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, Einstein and Ray Kroc all did some form of this structured napping like this.
Sometimes, I am not in a place to take a structured nap, you know, while driving or walking, orI’m sitting in bed and cannot yet journal my Gratitudes.
So I will perform something called Ho’oponopono.
Ho’oponopono Protocol comes from Dr. Hew Len. I first learned about this in a book, Zero Limits, and later in a deep dive of YouTube videos.
Again, this requires the mindset of a Witness and the ability to have a relationship with the content of your experience.
First, I will direct my attention to the problematic situation in my environment, including something I might have read in a news article or seen on TV. Or, a memory with some unresolved issues.
Then I fix my attention of the space or context of that situation, seeing it from a higher perspective as opposed to being entangled in it.
Then I will say four short declarations with clear intent and listen, sense, and feel the response to these statements,
I love you.
I am sorry that forgot.
Please forgive me.
With each cycle, I listen, sense and feel for a shift somewhere in my body for a release of tension, and with each saying, start parlaying those small shifts into something deeper and systemic.
When I first started journaling, I performed Ho’oponopono a lot, sometimes daily for weeks at a time, just to unplug from the stuff of the day.
Today I use the Ho’oponopono more when I’m walking around town and see a homeless person, some kid dealing with a policeman, a couple having a public fight, or a parent dealing with an upset child.
I’ll perform Ho’oponopono when I am shopping, driving in traffic, standing in a crowded elevator, or even when a policeman pulls me over.
I will have to write more about Ho’oponopono and how I’ve used it to chip away at a sudden flareup of shame, a sudden vivid memory from the past.
Ho’oponopono does not change the facts of what happened.
It can and will change how you interpret and make sense of what happened.
I know that you and a lot of your teachers call this a healing.
You also know that I prefer other metaphors that are free from stinky freight of clinical or abnormal psychology.
I’d prefer a metaphor based on release and freedom.
Or remembering, knowing Thyself, soul integration, and alignment with Universal Intent, they all get to the same end: a new and more meaningful perspective of our place in the Universe.
Gifts of energy exchanged
About six months ago, I added a supercharged element to my Evening Journal: Acknowledging the gifts of energy exchanges that I had that day.
This really gets to the essence of Gratitude as a practice and why you might want to learn Gratitude as a Second Language.
I say that Gratitude starts with an embodied experience of receiving grace, beauty, or the heartfelt Presence of another person, group, environment or thing.
By embodied experience, I mean something more than just being mindful, something that includes feeling all the emotions, especially those that we have learned to ignore, emotions that reveal something discomforting or confusing.
So this embodied experience of receiving means feeling the fullness of the moment, including the sadness, resentment, fear, loneliness, or whatever that our conscious personality-ego pushed away.
Gratitude arises from experiencing the fullness of a total multi-sensory experience of Now.
When we allow Life to flow through us without resistance, we begin moving into a state of Gratitude.
To squeeze all the juice of the day that just passed, to journal more effectively the Gratitudes of my day, I’ve added what I call the Game of Strengths and single-word Breathitations.
Game of Strengths
As I journaled the Gratitudes of my day, I found myself reaching for the right thing to write or say.
I discovered that I did not have a basic vocabulary of Gratitude.
I knew from learning English as a Second Language, I used a vocabulary comprised of 300 or so sight words as a learned conversational English.
So I needed the equivalent sight words for Gratitude.
I needed some simple, concrete way of verbalizing my experience of receiving the Presence of another person or situation.
I also wanted these verbalizations, things about which to be Grateful, to be more universal.
I wanted to go beyond the personal projection of my criteria for nice or pleasant that I attributed to a person.
Then I remembered reading about this in the books on happiness and well-being by Dr. Martin Seligman, and the role of understanding one’s Character Strengths and doubling down on their expression.
Some people might recognize this in Strengths Finder books, a commercialized version of Values in Action study at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Positive Psychology.
In particular, I drew upon their formal expression of six Virtues and 24 Character Strengths and their survey, VIA Character Strengths Assessment.
I advise all of my coaching clients to take the free VIA Character Strengths assessment.
In our one-on-one calls, we begin calling out their expression of a Character Strength and practicing it with more deliberate intent in an expanding number of situations.
It was from the initial success of that I created Strengths-spotting game that I call the Game of Strengths.
[Added to this interview transcript, you will find my top seven character strengths with its corresponding sentence that I might use in journaling my gratitude for an interaction or experience of the preceding day.]
Character Strengths of Michael Jay Moon
- Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence I notice and appreciate within and throughout expressions of Beauty, Excellence or Skillful Performance by others or myself.
- Curiosity I hold an abiding interest in knowing or experiencing first-hand something novel or that varies from the expected, even for no other purpose than experiencing it.
- Love of Learning I explore, practice and master a new skill, knowledge, or ways of being, in unstructured or formal ways, simply for the joy of it.
- Perspective I provide others with insights, patterns, and suggested actions. I have a good sense of knowing when to do so.
- Love I experience receiving and giving love with others. I strive to experience others with unconditional positive regard.
- Gratitude I sense-feel a deep sense of Presence in others and an appreciation for the good things that happen. I take the time to acknowledge others and their gifts, genius, and talents.
Using these Character Strengths as an example, as I journal the Gratitudes from the day, as I select a particular interaction with someone, I will write something like,
I am grateful for Anne and her gifts today of Bravery, Appreciation of Beauty, and Honesty
I usually journal something like this when earlier that day, I did something, like leave a mess around the stove, and you say something to me about cleaning it up.
In the past, I would have felt your feedback as criticism, throwing me into a sense of hurt or hostility.
Today, I am much more mindful that I did something, unconsciously, that triggered a response.
More so every day, I find myself making fewer messes and having these somewhat unwanted experiences with you.
I have also found myself just holding the space of our interactions, feeling what I feel, letting you feel what you feel and, most importantly, just letting it all flow through the you-and-me of our relationship.
As I would journal that interaction around having made a mess in the kitchen, I would be exercising four of my Character Strengths of Perspective, Love of Learning, Love, and Gratitude.
Saying or writing this in an Evening Journal, I begin reprogramming the circuitry of my brain, training its Reticular Activating System to habitually spot and alert my conscious mind of strengths-expressions in others.
Over time, this intentional, outward strengths-spotting of others and myself, journaled as a Gratitude, will become a reflexive recognition of receiving the Presence of others and sense-feeling of the fullness of Life flow through me.
I spoke of Breathitations earlier.
I have modified it for use in my Evening Journal of Gratitude.
I still journal the five things from earlier in the day for which I am grateful.
This entails my written acknowledgement of having received the gift of someone’s Presence, their expression of three Character Strengths and my felt-sensing of their fullness.
Then on a second pass through, I will focus again each event and the fullness of that person’s Presence, asking myself,
For me, what single quality captures the essence of this interaction?
Listening for a response, a single word usually pops up.
In the particular instance of my mess, our interaction, and the particular Character Strengths involved, the term Perspective came to mind.
That is, as I fully internalized our interaction of a gift, I internalized it as my gaining or enhancing my Perspective and my growing recognition a pattern to my life.
I will then put this singular idea, Perspective, in my mind’s eye, making it a Breathitation.
I will make Perspective the single gift from our interaction, holding Perspective in my mind while I inhale for four seconds, hold my breath another four seconds, and exhale out for another four seconds.
This results in a singular focus on a quintessential goodness for about 17 seconds and flips another neurocircuit to spotting and appreciating Gratitude in real time while reinforcing my Life Narrative
I know that in the process I rewired another neurocircuit that had been cued, in the past, for something other than appreciation or Gratitude.
If I were to unpack all the gifts given to me in life, from all the interactions over the 66 years or so, pleasant or otherwise, and to transform all of them into something of value to others, I now know with absolute certainty that my gift, contribution, and genius is Perspective.
So in the course of journaling the Gratitudes of the day, I no longer have to wait until I’m dead, sitting around some bardo or astral space station and conduct a post mortem of my life.
I added to my Evening Journal of Gratitude an inscribed intention for an evening’s restful sleep, spelling out how I would feel upon waking in the morning with energy and new insights.
So I would inscribe an intention with something like,
“Tonight, I will soon fall asleep, rising before 7 am with zest and new downloads for [bringing Gratitude Games to a billion mobile users].”
This is another stroke in my reprogramming some of the reactive routines of Cognitive Unconscious.
After years of inscribing intentions at bedtime, I now bound out of bed with energy and mental buffer full of inspired, practical ideas, which flow right into my Daily Planning and through the rest of my day.