Not quite oddly specific gratitude

English: Bars of black Swiss Chocolate. From l...

English: Bars of black Swiss Chocolate. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gratitude has been playing an increasingly important role in my life.  I try to wake up every morning and list some things for which I’m grateful.  So when I saw that some of the Nano Poblanos have an “Oddly Specific Gratitude” blog hop going I was interested.  But I couldn’t really understand the instructions and have a hazy idea you have to be tagged before you’re allowed to participate (translation:  rules not clear to me on first read and I’m too lazy to figure it out…).

The idea stuck, though, so I thought I’d make a list of things for which I’ve been grateful lately:

  • La Coppa coffee: when California friends told me the shop was gone I thought that was it.  Just found they still do mail order and I’m working on the first Mill Valley Blend I’ve had in a while.  YUM!
  • Every breath
  • Dark Chocolate
  • I’ve always had a nice roof over my head and plenty of good food to eat
  • Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Ice Cream
  • Yoga, the Eight Key Breaths and the Five Tibetan Rites
  • Great friends everywhere I’ve lived – so many places where I can visit people I love
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Getting healthier all the time
  • The scent of summer in Kentucky
  • The musical legacy of Michael Hedges
  • The smell of bread baking
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Peace

Do you have a gratitude list?

Ancestors, forgiveness and letting go

Part of my peaceful Sunday was watching two programs on Oprah.  On Super Soul Sunday she had Adyashanti and a little later there was an episode of her current series with Eckhart Tolle.  I haven’t been following the latter but when I saw this one was about dealing with emotional issues I recorded it.

In that way the Universe has of offering synchronicity, Adyashanti talked quite a bit about ancestral patterns and Eckhart Tolle brought up the relationship between emotional pain and family patterns/issues.  Those of you who’ve been reading this blog for a while know that I’ve been intensely interested for quite a while now in the role of ancestral patterns in defining our “now” so I was so grateful to get to see these.

Adyashanti particularly made the point that forgiveness is key to letting go.  It reminded me of the Fisher-Hoffman work, in which the finishing piece involves reaching out to the childhood selves of those you have been processing and finding peace and forgiveness by learning about their wounds and their perspective.  I have to admit that while I believe in the power and necessity of forgiveness, I often skirt that piece or do it cursorily.

Something about getting similar messages twice in the same afternoon brought home to me that some forgiveness work would be a good idea.  I’ve been a little angry with those ancestors whose legacies have been the source of deep issues for me.  Time for a little gratitude and forgiveness.

Gratitude and CPS time

Peace symbol for CPS

 My new book(let) Relating Heart to Heart is still free here.

I waited a few days to post about gratitude because I’ve been cultivating an attitude of gratitude for a while and it has been growing recently but I didn’t feel unusually grateful on Thanksgiving.  Not that I’m not grateful for a life in which I live in a house and have food to put on the table.

I think the greatest moments of gratitude came over the 8 or 9 days before when we were having a new roof put on.  We’ve needed one for quite a while and couldn’t afford it — holding our breaths every time it rained or snowed…  A few things fell into place so that we could finally have it done and, while the constant pounding and banging was a bit trying the sounds represented abundance and the universe providing to me, so I felt grateful.

However, toward the end the contractor wanted to get paid for the whole job and suddenly it was more than the estimate and no longer included any of the work inside.  We contended that the agreement had been to do all of it and gave 2/3 at that time, refusing to pay the rest until the whole job was completed.  The indoor crew arrived and began working so I assumed that he’d capitulated.  My mother, the voice of doom and gloom, fretted that he was going to announce we owed a bunch more when they finished.  I assumed he wouldn’t have had them even start the work knowing that we didn’t intend to pay any more, unless he’d capitulated.

On Tuesday one of the workmen came pounding at the door and spent 10 minutes yelling and screaming about his pay and threatening to put a lien on the house.  My mother was instantly convinced that all the contracting problems were about to come down on us.  I started to be sucked in but after a few minutes I took a breath, silently said the lovingkindness chant for the man who was so upset, checked in to my calm place and decided that it was all going to work out fine and that the remaining balance would stay the same.  A while later the contractor arrived to apologize profusely for the man, who’d been fired earlier by the subcontractor.  The work was completed and he accepted a check for the amount agreed upon.

That was such a big moment for me to step aside from the maelstrom around me and choose to assume a different and better outcome.  It made me so grateful for all the teachers and books that gave me the practices and new thoughts to change my outlook so completely.  And my persistence at working at it all; I’m grateful to me too.

Collective Prayer Sundays:  In case you’re new, we’re finding 10 minutes at a minimum to pray or chant or meditate (or???) for peace every Sunday.  Details are on the CPS page.For comments:  you can comment here or on that page or you can go to the Facebook page.

Whiny me

For the last five days my head has been going through it’s unwinding thing almost incessantly. And giving me headaches. Interfering with sleep. I’m trying to hold that calm space where all of that is illusion but really I’m just whiny. And cranky. The universe keeps offering me this challenge to stay grateful for the healing that all of this represents and I keep stumbling on the challenge when the going gets tough.

I mean, when I stop whining every now and then, I remember to think about gratitude. But at the next twitch I’m shaking my fist at the sky and muttering, “heal it or kill me now, don’t care which…”

This seems so minor compared to the suffering of someone like Mattie Stepanek that I can manage to feel ashamed that I can’t seem to transcend this when he handled his illness with such grace. But in the end I have to accept that at the moment this is me and my reaction and it doesn’t help at all to beat myself up about my reaction to long drawn-out problems with health.

I can feel by the process that the deepest core of what’s been twisted in my head is opening. When the unwinding is quiet for a bit I’m actually kind of excited about the potential for learning how it feels to have a head in which all muscles are relaxed and healthy. Kreig, the creator of Bodypatterning I’m always mentioning, chatted with me the other day about how ancestral holding patterns can have a big effect. I could instantly see how patterns of tightening have come down through both sides of my family. So when my face calms down a bit I’ll be exploring that ancestral piece. Right now I’m too busy whining.

Thankfulness and the Aloha Blessing Way

In Hawaiian shamanism there is a little twist on the idea of an attitude of gratitude, which is: that which you bless increases–anything you bless, appreciate or acknowledge. If you see beautiful flowers and say a blessing for the lovely sight you increase your likelihood of seeing beauty or your sense of blessing. If a friend does something nice for you and you express your appreciation for the deed, you increase the likelihood that you will have good, kind friends and/or your sense of being blessed.

It took me a little while to realize that it’s essentially different words for maintaining an attitude of gratitude. And the fundamental principle behind both is that, since like attracts like, if you’re maintaining an emotional state of thankfulness, blessing, appreciation, etc. you’re pretty much in a positive, upbeat space and that attracts more good.

Early on I tried to keep some sort of track of whether the specific thing I blessed increased although eventually I got the ridiculousness of trying to keep an account. I can say, though, that when I remember to say a blessing for every easy parking space or green light it does seem like I have an ongoing experience of easy parking or getting green lights. Mostly what I came to love about remembering to say a blessing or a “thanks” for everything is how great I feel when I consciously recognize the abundance of good stuff in my life.

As I mentioned in a previous post, my challenge has been to find something to bless or feel thankful for when I have a migraine or the unwinding muscles in my head have kept me awake for the third night in a row. I’ve learned to find that silver lining and, if I’m mindful, I can manage to find gratitude even in those times when things seem hard. The unwinding, for instance, means that my muscles are healing and the vice grip feeling in my head is on its way out, so I can concentrate on being happy for what the process is leading to instead of the painful part. I’m not always that mindful.

It may be the great challenge for all spiritual journeys. Whether you call it thankfulness, blessing or lovingkindness (or ….), success arrives when you can stay thankful or feel a state of grace no matter what. It’s the ability to step aside from your reaction when your boss just pushed your button—when you just found out your daughter is on drugs, when a tornado just damaged your house, when your head is pounding—and hang on to feeling you’re in a state of grace. When you feel blessed or thankful or even calm and centered through whatever life brings you’ve accomplished a major piece of the spiritual journey. Blessings to you all. I’m thankful you’re reading.

This is my post for ABC Wednesday.  Today it’s “T”.  This is also my post for AlphabeThursday, which is “B”.

Healing Journey Monday: gratitude

Yard here—where it meets the park

As I took my walk this evening, I was, as always enchanted. The vistas as I wander up and down the hills are breathtaking. I especially love the plants and trees, the softness of the air, and, this time of year the way jasmine and other luscious scents of spring mix with the ever present scent of eucalyptus. I fill with gratitude every time I’m here, every time I walk around the yard or the neighborhood – even when I lived here I held a space of awed thankfulness that I got to stay in this place. So I started mulling the times when gratitude is harder. It occurred to me that I haven’t so far talked about the part of my journey that encompasses gratitude for being ill.

In keeping with my lazy vacationer status, I seem to be able only to create a list, not to elaborate. So here are some of the reasons I’m grateful for the long years of illness:

  1. I don’t think I’d have stayed on this path nor gone so deeply had it not been for the illness.
  2. I would have continued to be numb to my body. Instead I have an increasingly finely tuned sense of my physical being.
  3. The long slow process of healing gave me a lot of understanding about limitations and pain and long-term illness and that helps me to be a more compassionate and better teacher.
  4. I invented a movement process in order to heal my own muscles and now I’m helping other people find ease and freedom from pain and stiffness.
  5. I learned how to fight for myself; when doctors and practitioners didn’t have answers I found my own and that has made me stronger.
  6. I learned how to slow down and appreciate the small things; I don’t need excitement and fireworks to make me feel alive.
  7. I learned a lot about living a healthy life – not just getting better but staying better.
  8. In the course of lots of bodywork I learned how to receive caring touch and let that warmth flow through me.
  9. I met a lot of great practitioners and learned to distinguish technicians from healers and to walk away from those who can’t listen or lack true compassion.
  10. I learned that feeling gratitude heals.

Thank you God – and so it is.