Despite news to the contrary, many delights in life are free and do not require money. Giving thanks, experiencing gratitude, cultivating appreciation are three perfect examples of free and timeless activities. When November arrives, without a wobble, the subject of Thanksgiving and the myriad ways we are blessed fills my awareness. Moments when I feel so full of gratitude that my body will explode, I remember that gratitude is not about holding to the feeling, but opening to the sacredness of life. Nothing goes out of style or becomes stale in the sacred practice of thanksgiving, both a noun and verb.
Countless books, programs, and workshops on topics like positive psychology, appreciative inquiry and the power of positive thinking are available to support development. They might be an opportunity to consider. But for now, let's keep it simple. For now, gain the unobstructed knowing that gratitude is available every moment, regardless of the situation. Yes, every moment, even if the situation appears seemingly dire.
Just to be clear, we are not exploring the Polly Anna perspective or the glass half-full; I'm asking you to tap into the reality of life, even when the "sh..." is hitting the fan and all hell is breaking loose. My current challenges: son trying to complete college applications, a father in life/health transition, too much work on my plate, too much stuff in my basement, power outages and generator faults during the recent storm... (Note to self, are you kidding me? These statements are humiliatingly absurd.) Try something more compelling. My mind immediately goes to the victims in New York and New Jersey of Hurricane Sandy. Much more relevant. For those in the midst of recovering from this natural disaster, what is available to be grateful for - surviving, gaining perspective on life, meaningful relationships, a good homeowner's policy (not trying to be funny - pointing to all of the possibilities). Yes, this is much more real. Beyond the individual to the collective. Gratitude breaks hearts, softens presence and gives space to every situation with greater compassion and wisdom. For your own development and for the benefit of others, let's practice an activity RIGHT NOW:
GIVING THANKS: To whom or what would you like to express thanks? (Breathe and allow the first person or situation that comes to mind to be your choice) How would you like to express thanks? (Phone, text, e-mail, letter, in person ...) Do it.
EXPERIENCING GRATITUDE: Are you familiar with your unique experience of gratitude? If so, let that experience saturate your body and mind right now. If not, recall the previous activity of giving thanks and tune in to your body sensations. What do you notice and where is that sensation located? For example, your heart might feel spacious and open; or, you might have streaming bubbles in your torso; or you might have a sense of lightness and energy all over. Get familiar with your unique gratitude experience.
CULTIVATING APPRECIATION: Magnify (intensify) the places in your body that signal your gratitude. Allow this body experience to be a marker for your gratitude progress. Commit to living in a state of deep appreciation.
Thank you for supporting the practice of giving thanks for me, for others, for all.
With deep gratitude,