Nourishing Gratitude

Nourishing Gratitude

Discussion date: Thu, Jun 14, 2012 at our weekly Thursday evening practice

Dear Still Water Friends,

Gratitude is a practice, one which increases our capacity for joy, love, awe, and abundance. And, like strengthening our muscles and increasing our flexibility by exercising them, we can enhance our ability to experience gratitude by using it. With practice, what can start as a moment of appreciation can cascade into minutes or even hours of savoring the delicious moments of our lives and the many seen and unseen ways in which we are supported.

Gratitude is a fundamental human experience expressed in cultures around the world. Google the word “gratitude” and in less than 2 seconds more than 12 million results will be found. Numerous physiological and psychological studies are demonstrating the benefits of gratitude, dozens of books have been written and CDs produced about it, a chain of Gratitude Cafés in California gives patrons the opportunity to nourish themselves with appreciation as well as food. Gratitude is a kind of sustenance that fuels our hearts as well as our minds and bodies. And there are many things we can do to reap an abundant gratitude harvest.

One of the first mindfulness meditations I experienced years ago was something Still Water Mindfulness Practice Center’s senior teacher, Mitchell Ratner, called “raisin meditation.” Mitchell gave each of us a single raisin and urged us to take our time to really taste it; to imagine describing it to someone who’d never eaten a raisin before; to consider the conditions under which it had grown, been picked, dried, packaged and sent to market…and to make this single raisin last, filling us as if it were a whole meal. And it did. It must have taken at least 10 minutes for me to nibble my single raisin. It was a symphony of flavor, texture, scent. I’ve eaten dozens of little red boxes of raisins as a child but never before had I noticed this profound sweetness; I was filled with gratitude for the miracle of one raisin.

Imagine if every activity—sitting, walking, eating, hugging, listening, speaking—could be experienced with intentionality, wonder, and gratitude.

They can.

Thich Nhat Hanh offers a multitude of practices that increase our capacity to deeply experience and appreciate the miraculous and interdependent nature of all life.

This Thursday evening after our sitting and walking meditations we will explore the benefits and obstacles to experiencing gratitude. Using several short guided meditations followed by small and large group sharing time, we will nourish our practice of appreciating the wonderful elements of the life we have.

Below are is an excerpt about gratitude from a talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh in Plum Village, France, followed by an excerpt from his book, The Miracle of Mindfulness. I’ve also included the words to a song written by Irene D’Auria for one of our Charter Hall family retreats more than 15 years ago that is now sung in sanghas around the world. I’d like to sing it with you at the end of our dharma sharing on Thursday.

Smiling,

Lynd Morris

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Register here

Lotuses, Food, and Mindful Friends. Sunday, July 15, 2012, at the the National Park Service’s Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens.

Coming Home to Ourselves: A Day of Practice. Sunday, July 29, at Blueberry Gardens in Ashton, Maryland.


From the “Touching the Energy of the Bodhisattvas” Dharma Talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh on December 21, 1997, in Plum Village, France.

When we enjoy eating an orange, we might feel grateful to the orange tree, which has spent a lot of time making a beautiful orange for us. So by thinking of giving and receiving, we can establish a deeper sense of relationship to the orange tree. We know that the orange tree also receives a lot of things from the clouds, the sunshine and the earth. In fact, everything that is has to rely on everything else in order to be and to grow. That is why I not only feel grateful for the orange tree, but I am also grateful for the clouds, the sunshine, the earth, and so on.

We like the idea of being thankful to the cosmos, to everything that offers itself to us as food. That is why in Plum Village we organize a Thanksgiving Day, and we address our thanks to four objects: first of all to our father and our mother, who gave us life; to our teacher who gave us spiritual life and helped us know how to live in the here and now; we thank our friends who support us, especially in difficult moments, and we thank every being in the animal, vegetable and mineral world for our support and maintenance.

Thich Nhat Hanh, from The Miracle of Mindfulness

I like to walk alone on country paths, rice plants and wild grasses on both sides, putting each foot down on the earth in mindfulness, knowing that I walk on the wondrous earth. In such moments, existence is a miraculous and mysterious reality.

People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth.

Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child—our own two eyes. All is a miracle.


In Gratitude

by Irene D’Auria

In gratitude

you have watered seeds

of love in me

in gratitude.

In gratitude

I will water seeds

of love in someone too.

I know you’re there for me

And I am so happy.

In gratitude

you have watered seeds

of love in me

in gratitude.

In gratitude

I will water seeds

of love in someone too.

And when you suffer some,

Please call and I will come.

In gratitude

you have watered seeds

of love in me

in gratitude.

In gratitude

I will water seeds

of love in someone too.

in: Dharma Topics
Discussion Date: Thu, Jun 14, 2012


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