Seeds of Gratitude Flickr.com

Seeds of Gratitude

Discussion date: Thu, Mar 24, 2016 at our weekly Thursday evening practice

Dear Still Water Friends,

I have been thinking about gratitude and how I can cultivate more seeds of gratitude in my life. Gratitude is one of those qualities that people often dismiss as cliche, as “nice but not necessary’. In the last sentence from the Order of Interbeing’s Seventh Mindfulness Training: Dwelling Happily in the Present Moment, Thich Nhat Hanh writes, “We are aware that happiness depends primarily on our mental attitude and not on external conditions, and that we can live happily in the present moment simply by remembering that we already have more than enough conditions to be happy.”

I’ve been pondering whether cultivating gratitude for the conditions I have to be happy about in my life is necessary (not just nice) for my sense of well-being. That ups the urgency of cultivating seeds of gratitude. I’m discovering that mindfulness in breathing, walking, eating, and coming home to the present moment can help me to focus on feeling gratitude, so it becomes a quality or state of mind I’m experiencing, not just a “nice” word.

Gratitude seems to be a doorway that can widen our perspective on our own lives, so we see ourselves as being part of a larger whole. It feels like a close cousin of LovingKindness in the effect it has of opening our hearts to those around us. As Joanne Friday writes in her summer 2014 article for the Mindfulness Bell, “Gratitude immediately takes me from the shore of suffering to the shore of Freedom.” For me, freedom arises with the realization that I am not the only one suffering, and creates space for me to feel and shift my suffering into compassion for both my own and others’ suffering.

I’ve had two recent experiences of the broadening shift evoked by gratitude. This past fall, for about 3 months, I dated a man who was completely blind. Though I have a visual impairment, I’ve never had a close friend or romantic partner who was blind. What I found was that there was a large gap between my functional, though limited, eyesight, and his experience of being completely blind for many years. He was brilliant at communicating about and compensating for his lack of eyesight; but the truth is, he can’t see, and his sensory world does not include vision. My automatic visual references sometimes tried his patience though he’d heard them all his life, and unwittingly excluded him.

I started realizing how important my eyesight is as a frame of reference on my world, and feeling grateful for all the sight I do have, which allows me to navigate with relative ease and safety, crossing most streets with a pedestrian light and taking the metro, for example. My whole view of myself and attitude about what I am able to see and do in the world shifted because of our interaction, even though the relationship soon ended. I feel grateful for this broadening shift in perspective. I value and savor the visual variety my eyesight creates access to, newly mindful of vision’s important role in my life.

A couple weeks ago on the metro, I had another gratitude experience when I encountered a woman who had a therapy dog with her. She was describing to her companion what it was like to have no digestive system, a condition with which she apparently lives. To ensure the continuing function of her system, she uses an Ostomy and other medical devices. She was taking the metro to Union Station to present at a conference for people with these types of issues. I was struck by how much I take for granted that my body takes care of naturally for me all the time- the ability to swallow food, digest it, and eliminate waste as necessary.

In my recent meditations, I have been consciously tuning into my gratitude for my ability to see, to digest food, to breathe easily, and other gifts in my life- no longer taking all these abilities for granted is a powerful glimpse into Thay’s saying, “Present Moment, Wonderful Moment”. 

This Thursday, after our usual sitting and walking meditation at Crossings, we will share our past key experiences of gratitude, and explore what role gratitude plays in our lives today. What do you find specifically works well for you to help you practice and step into gratitude? You are warmly invited to join us!

Many Blessings,

Eliza King

—————————————————————————————

Dwelling Happily in the Present Moment
The Seventh Mindfulness Training of the Order of Interbeing: 

Aware that life is available only in the present moment, we are committed to training ourselves to live deeply each moment of daily life. We will try not to lose ourselves in dispersion or be carried away by regrets about the past, worries about the future, or craving, anger, or jealousy in the present. We will practice mindful breathing to be aware of what is happening in the here and the now. We are determined to learn the art of mindful living by touching the wondrous, refreshing, and healing elements that are inside and around us, in all situations. In this way, we will be able to cultivate seeds of joy, peace, love, and understanding in ourselves, thus facilitating the work of transformation and healing in our consciousness. We are aware that real happiness depends primarily on our mental attitude and not on external conditions, and that we can live happily in the present moment simply by remembering that we already have more than enough conditions to be happy.

In Gratitude
A Plum Village song

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, just call and I will come.

in: Dharma Topics
Discussion Date: Thu, Mar 24, 2016


Share:

This week
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Sun, September 19 Mon, September 20

Morning Meditation at Crossings

Friends in Different Places

Tue, September 21 Wed, September 22

Morning Meditation at Crossings

Thu, September 23

Evening Practice at Crossings

Fri, September 24

Morning Meditation at Crossings

Sat, September 25