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The Gratitude Code: Cracking the Secret to a Fulfilling Life

Link to the Episode

Anshu Bahanda: Welcome to Wellness curated. This is your host, Anshu Bahanda and as you know, the aim of our podcast is to make you lead a healthier, happier, more hopeful life. And we do so by bringing you tips, tools, techniques and ideas from all over the world. This season we’re going to focus on spiritual well-being and today’s discussion is the science of gratitude and how practising gratitude impacts our brain and body. This discussion is very special to me because gratitude actually just completely changed my life. And research has shown that practising gratitude regularly can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. It can increase feelings of happiness and life satisfaction and it can improve our relationship with others. We have someone very special with us today. We have Shreans Daga who has a foundation called the Shreans Daga Foundation— where they actually bring together science and spirituality, and the aim of their foundation is to guide people to recognize their inner power and to empower themselves and create their own reality. How beautiful is that? Welcome to the show, Shreans. 

Shreans Daga: Thanks, Anshu.  Really looking forward to it. 

AB: Thank you for being with us. And I know you’re a real guiding light in this area. So I’m really excited about this topic. 

SD: Likewise. 

AB: Tell me now a little bit about your journey through spirituality. 

SD: Right. So I’m based in Bombay now and I came here in ‘92. I am originally from Madhya Pradesh, and in ‘93, my father passed away when I was 19.  And I was in second year college. And then having a college life, [meant] having fun and parties and girlfriends and, you know, how college life, Bombay college life is. But then when my father passed away, it was like a shock to me, to my family.  And in the next three years I slipped into depression.  And at the end of three years I was detected of chest tuberculosis, and that was a time when I really broke down, and I needed help because I was going through a lot of grief, and I didn’t know how to cope up.  And on top of it, I got TB.  So I needed help. And the next day my sister told me one spiritual teacher is coming to Mumbai and can he stay with you? And that’s how I met one spiritual master called Brahmarshi Patriji.  And he happened to stay with me and he saw me popping pills and he asked me— “what is this medicine for?” I said, “Sir, I just got TB two days back and that’s why I’m taking this medicine.”  And then he said, “Your real issue is your grief, your feeling of anxiety or your loss of your father. And by taking medicine, you’re only suppressing it. It’s like a fire alarm. You’re shutting the fire alarm, but the fire is still continuing.  So if you really want to heal, you need to heal the root cause. Otherwise TB will go, but something else will come up.” But I said, “I don’t know anything better. This is the only way I know.” And he said, “That’s why I’m here.” And that was the first time when I meditated with him. And I meditated for around 40 minutes, and I was feeling a strong flow of energy into my chest. I had a chest TB. And after 40 minutes, when I opened my eyes, I was feeling so calm and peaceful. That feeling I’d forgotten in the last three years. It was as if I had taken a bath after three years. And that feeling was so profound that it really intrigued me. How does this happen? How come I’m feeling so relaxed now? And then he gave me a little bit of science about meditation. And he gave me two books, ‘Power of Your Subconscious Mind’ and ‘Elements of Visualisation.’ And then he went the next day, and he told me, “If you meditate for 40 days every day, you’ll be able to heal your TB without any medicine.” And so I started reading these books and for the first time I realised, ‘oh, the subconscious mind is so powerful. Oh, we create our own reality. We can create whatever we want in our life.’ So these concepts were very alien to me, but it really opened my eyes and I started meditating every day and I got hooked on meditation. Then one weekend I did a Pranic healing course. One weekend I did a Reiki course, I did a Silva Method of Mind Control course. And after 30 days, I was due for my chest X ray. And when I got my X ray done, my TB was completely gone.

AB: Lovely. And I know that you value gratitude greatly because your website says, your foundation website, that you’re grateful for the opportunity to help people through their journeys. So talk to me a little bit through the role that gratitude has played in your journey.

SD: I mean gratitude is a feeling which just comes naturally, right? Like when this happened, when TB was gone, I remember I came down the stairs from the doctor’s cabin and I was crying all through and it was tears of joy. I was feeling so grateful. That simple technique of just observing my breath can heal myself. And I felt so empowered. And it was probably that feeling of gratefulness which led me to find my own purpose in life. That is the time I realised that in this lifetime, I made a commitment at that time that I want to spread meditation and spirituality to everyone. And the more I did that, the more gratefulI I felt, for everything that’s happening in my life. So I feel gratitude is our natural state. When we are connected to our inner being, when we are connected to our true self, we can’t help but be grateful, right? Because everything that we do in our life is for emotional payoff. If I get this, then I’ll be happy. So most of the time, we wait for that happiness to come or something to happen in our life to feel grateful. But the truth is that happiness is already within us. And all we need is to connect to that inner being, to that inner treasure or the inner sanctuary within. And when you connect to that inner being, you can’t help but feel grateful.

AB: That is so true, Shreans. Because that’s how I feel. I just feel grateful. But then I’ve also had a story like yours. But tell me, Shreans, how do you think gratitude is connected to spirituality?

SD: When we connect to our spirit being, as I said, we experience inner joy, inner happiness, inner peace, and that is our natural state. And whatever practices we can do now, somebody does meditation. Like in our practices, meditation, I teach breath work. All that is to help you connect your inner being, to help you to release all those fear based emotions, survival based emotions, which is blocking us from connecting to our source energy. But once we connect to our source, that source becomes our ultimate resource, right? And gratitude is one powerful tool or one powerful emotion to actually help us connect to our inner being. Because once we feel grateful for whatever we have in our life or whatever we still don’t have in our life, we can be grateful for what we have or even we can be grateful for things that we design in our life and feel it as if it’s already happened and express the gratitude for that. So the moment you feel grateful, you change your emotional state. When you feel grateful, our brain releases two powerful chemicals, two powerful neurotransmitters— serotonin and dopamine. These are the reward chemicals. These are the happiness chemicals. And all of a sudden, you feel happy. And that way the law of attraction works is, our thoughts are electric, our feelings are magnetic, right? Thoughts send a signal out but it is the feelings which draw the event back in our lives. Because when you’re thinking you’re only in the asking mode, only when you’re feeling, you’re in the receiving mode. And then that’s how you change your vibration. And your vibration always precedes manifestation. And then when you’re grateful for what you have in your life, the universe will give you more of the things that you can be grateful about. So gratefulness is a great tool, even for manifestation.

AB: That’s very interesting. So tell me, now can you share an example about how gratitude has supported your personal transformation and growth?

SD: See, I cannot tell you one incident because there are thousands of incidents, millions of incidents. For me, sometimes I feel that I am the most grateful person in this world. And I am definitely very much grateful for meditation in my life because I met a lot of spiritual teachers who taught me meditation. And that led to transformation in my spiritual journey. And not only in my spiritual journey, in my relationships, but in my materialistic wealth too. I came from a very humble background, from a family which is from Madhya Pradesh, in a tribal belt, who is into farming and went through a lot of challenges, financially difficult situations. But because of meditation, I always felt grateful for whatever I had in my life. I always felt that the best things in life are free, right? Sunshine, air, water, good sleep, good food. It doesn’t cost much, so no matter whatever situation you are in, there’s always something that we can be grateful about. And I grew up in a family where there is always a state of content in the family. I’ve seen my father, my grandparents going through a lot of hardships, even financially difficult times, but they were always very content. With my grandmother we always used to have prayers everyday before sleeping to be grateful for whatever things we have in our life. As soon as we get up, I remember with my grandmother, we’ll again start with the prayers of gratitude. Just the feeling of being content or being grateful is so powerful because one who knows ‘enough is enough’ will always have enough. And the reason why we don’t have enough is because we don’t realise that we are enough.

AB: Absolutely. So the combination of breath work and gratitude, which are two very strong practices and of course, have a significant effect on the mental, the emotional, the physical health— how can they be used? How can they be combined to enhance our well being? Can you give us some tools that people can use?

SD: Breathwork again, is a very, very powerful tool because your body is a memory bank of all the emotions. Whatever we have gone through in our life, through different challenges, different hardships or adversities or any contrasting situations in our life, the end result of any experience is an emotion, right? And any emotion that you feel intensely, you store it in your body. And then whatever life experiences, you see it all. You see it all from the lens of those emotions, from the lens of the past. So our breath and our emotions have a very strong connection. The moment you change your emotion, the moment you’re angry or upset, your breathing changes. The same way how emotions can change our breath, the same way we can use the breath as a tool to transform our emotions or to transcend our emotions. So during the breath work, we use breath work as a powerful tool to release all these fear based, survival based emotions and once you do that, all your fear, your anxiety, your guilt, shame, anger, frustration, once you release all that, then you come to your original state of being, which is pure love, pure joy, pure happiness. A lot of times, I remember when I took workshops on manifestation, people start with meditation, I want this, I want that. But during the course of meditation, they feel so whole, they feel so complete that they don’t even care whether that happens or not, because they say that ‘how can I want something when I feel so full?’ So that’s why gratitude and practices of breathwork or meditation go hand in hand. The more you practise this, the more grateful you will feel.

AB: So now tell me, this combination of breath work and gratitude, can it also help cope with difficult life circumstances?

SD: Absolutely. Because when we are faced with challenges, when we are faced with difficult situations, what are we obsessed with? We are obsessed with the problems and wherever your attention goes, your energy flows. Wherever your energy flows, the universe shows. So our energy is the currency of our universe. With the energy, we buy that experience in our life. So when we are focused on problems or focus on things that we do not want, what do you get? More of what we do not want. Now, when you practise gratitude, even in the most challenging situation, most difficult situation, no matter what the situation is, there’s always something to be grateful for. So for example, somebody meets with an accident. Suppose I met with an accident and fractured my hand. Now, one thing I can do is crib about it or blame somebody and be very upset and angry and frustrated or the other thing is I can say, ‘oh, thank God, I saved my life, at least I’m alive. Thank God that I have enough resources to get the right treatment or somebody could come and take me to the hospital at the right time.’ You can always find reasons to be thankful about, right? For an optimist, you’ll find a solution in every problem. A pessimist will find a problem in every solution. Now, what is your vibration to the universe that you are thankful for? So that gratitude is one of the most powerful emotions to instantly change your vibration.

AB: So say someone wants to manifest something, right? And I know you do the manifestation workshops and the like, so whatever it is that people want to manifest in a life situation, a partner, a job, whatever, can you talk us through? How can they do that? And what is the science behind it? Using gratitude as a tool.

SD: Sure. So in my meditation, I say five steps of creation, five steps of manifestation. In fact, I have a meditation called ‘Manifestation – 5 Steps of Creation.’ So the first step is brain coherence, where we use a meditation technique to silence our brain, to withdraw your attention from the current life situations and lose your identity. But the second step is heart coherence where you bring your heart into a state of balance, into a right emotional state. And that is the best practice, I use gratitude as a tool to change my emotional state. Now, the third step in my meditation, which I teach for manifestation is visualisation, what do you want in your life? What do you want to manifest in your life? So see it as if it’s already happened. Because now you’re in a right emotional state, it is easy to see it and feel it as if it’s already happened, 

AB: Right. Yes.

SD: Right? And the universe only understands your vibration, from what vibration you are coming from. First step is surrender. Only when you are grateful, you trust the universe. It is easy to trust the universe only when you feel grateful. When you surrender, you don’t say, “oh, I want it, and I want it this way.”  Do you trust that? Suppose I want a big house. Now if I think, “oh, I need ten crores to buy a house,” I will always keep thinking about the ten crores, [only] then I will get a house. But maybe I will get a good wife and my father-in-law will give me a good house, right? So I just visualise that I am living in a great house and the feeling of living in an amazing house and the feeling of security and balance and amazing conversations in my house and I leave it to the universe, I just surrender it. So again, gratitude helps you to surrender. Because otherwise you want it a certain way. Because if you try to want it a certain way, then you are in the way. Now, the fifth step is very important. Fifth step is… I end it with gratitude. I end with gratitude. Suppose I wanted a house, I feel in my mind I already created it, right? As if I already have it. So now I’m grateful that I already have the house, as if I’m living in the house. Because the emotional signature of gratitude means that the event has already happened.

AB: So you’re saying that when you meditate, first you go through brain coherence, then heart coherence, then visualisation, then surrender, and then gratitude again?

SD: Absolutely.

AB: Lovely. Will this process that you’ve given, this five step process, help them feel purposeful as well?

SD: Of course. Because when you meditate, what do you do? You connect to your inner being. You connect to your true divinity and then the purpose flows from it. Because in our hard work and struggle to survive, we lose our connection with ourselves. But the moment you find that connection, then your spirit guides you. You will be driven to a purpose.

AB: So when someone has suffered an extreme loss… Now, I know your story also coming into spirituality started with the loss. So when someone has suffered so much grief and loss, they’ve lost a loved one, they’ve lost a child, something that makes them feel they don’t want to live after that, and they’re in so much pain, then how can they be grateful?

SD: But that’s why we are called human beings. Humanity is about doing, doing, doing, but being is your state of being. And that is the power we have that is independent of the outside situation, independent of the challenges we can still be grateful for. And when you see when I go through any challenges in my life, a lot of times when I look at a beggar smiling on the street, I feel so grateful. I feel, ‘oh, my God, this person is happy,’ and he has nothing. He is begging on the street. And a small child, nine years, ten years begging on the street, smiling. What am I cribbing about? My problem, my pain. See, suffering results from the story we tell about ourselves. It’s a story we tell ourselves. Buddha said— ‘Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.’ So it’s always a choice. And we are wired for wellness. We all have seen deaths in our family. We have seen the loss of loved ones in our family. At that moment, you may feel, ‘oh my God, the world has shattered.’ But trust me, a connection with the divine is the highest when the times are darkest. After five days of even a death in the family, 10 days, 20 days, some funny thing happened, and you can’t help but smile, because that is our natural state of being. And it’s fine to be stressed at that moment, in that situation. It’s okay to be stressed, but it’s not okay to stay stressed. And that’s where meditation, breathwork, these techniques, or gratitude, comes as a powerful tool to transform you from those emotional states.

AB: Okay, thank you. And Shreans. You know how there’s so much mental health at the moment? There’s so many mental health issues, and you talked about how you went through it as well. And a lot of people have a lot of limiting beliefs because of that, and there’s a lot of negative self-talk out there. So can you give us an example of how a gratitude practice could help overcome that?

SD: The antidote for anxiety is gratitude. I’ve seen my son’s school anxiety, college anxiety. All I tell them is, they’re going through an anxiety attack. And I tell them, why don’t you write down 10 things that you can be grateful for. And I say, there’s no rush, take your time and write it down. By the end, they reach the 10th thing, their anxiety is completely gone. Because when you are anxious, you release cortisol. Now, when you’re feeling grateful, you release serotonin and dopamine. And the more the serotonin and dopamine, the less the cortisol. And then there’s no stress. There’s no anxiety anymore.

AB: I wanted to ask you, Shreans, can we give people some gratitude practices for people who are new to it? Would you recommend journaling? Would you recommend meditation?

SD: I think the first thing is a simple technique of journaling. Because journaling is calibrating. You’re calibrating with your inner self when you’re writing it down. I write down things which I don’t have in my life. But I see it as if I already have it. And I express my gratitude as if I already have. And I’m writing, how would I feel if I already have it? And I feel grateful for these things in my life. Like I wanted to build a pyramid in Bangalore in 2003. I had no money. But my vision was I wanted to make Asia’s largest pyramid where 5000 people can meditate. That was my vision. So I already drew the pyramid. And I always used to say “thank God for this pyramid. Thank that I am blessed. I’ve been given the opportunity to have this in my life. And slowly slowly my business started doing good somewhere. I’ll make some windfall gains in my business where I can easily divert that money for making pyramids.” So that’s why I said a grateful heart is a magnet for miracles. Second, I always say meditation is a powerful tool. Because meditation is something where gratitude will come naturally to you. That is a time when you’ll stop looking for reasons.

AB: Lovely. Now tell me, my last question to you— how can we use gratitude to find greater balance and joy and fulfilment in all areas of our life?

SD: So gratitude is an acknowledgment, it leads you to a state of content and satisfaction. And that is the right foundation for abundance in your life. Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.

AB: Thank you. Thank you so much, Shreans, for giving us so many powerful tips and tools.

SD: And so let me share a small poem I wrote on gratitude. 

AB: Oh, wonderful. Yes, please.

SD: So gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Without gratitude, you can turn any paradise into hell. Without gratitude, you’ll always walk away from the table starving— no matter what level of abundance has been laid before you. Without gratitude, every job is the worst job on earth; every spouse is deficient; every fence lets you down. Without gratitude, every home is on the wrong street; every gift is the wrong size; every novel is full of typos. Without gratitude, every mattress is uncomfortable; every cup of coffee is too weak; every choice you make feels like a wrong choice. Without gratitude summers will always be too hot, winters will always be too cold. The music will always be too loud. Without gratitude, the movie will always suck. The teenagers will always be too loud. Without gratitude people who vote or worship differently from you will always be monsters in your eyes. Without gratitude you’ll always feel you are born into the wrong family. Without great gratitude the waitress will always be too slow and you will always get the worst seat on the flight. Without gratitude every driver on the road except you is an idiot. Without gratitude life’s a misery so the alchemy of all alchemies is gratitude. Even if we learn nothing else we must learn how to say thank you. Gratitude is a great attitude.

AB: Oh lovely. Thank you for that Shreans, what a fabulous session we’ve had. Okay so at the end of every session we do a rapid fire round to summarise the chat. So tell me one gratitude practice or exercise that you would recommend everyone to do daily?

SD: I’ll say express. Keep expressing. It’s like you buy a gift, you wrap it nicely but you don’t give it to the other person. So many times you are appreciative of your relationship, your people in your life but you don’t express it. So use every opportunity to express your gratitude.

AB: And a surprising benefit of gratitude.

SD: You will see abundance everywhere.

AB:  And the best time of day to practise gratitude.

SD: Before sleep and as soon as you get up.

AB: Brilliant. Thank you so much, Shreans.

SD: Thank you so much Anshu.

AB: Thank you to my listeners. I hope you learned something new and I hope we brought you a little closer to leading a healthier, happier, more grateful life. If you enjoyed the show please do press like, and please get your friends and family and colleagues to subscribe to our channel. As you know we have something for everyone and I would absolutely love to hear from you so please send me an email with any questions or topic suggestions. My email address is: Anshu@WellnessCurated.Life. Thank you for being here today and I’ll see you next week.