Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tuesday's Reflection: Focus on Gratitude

Gratitude is the most passionate transformative force in the cosmos. When we offer thanks to God or to another human being, gratitude gifts us with renewal, reflection, reconnection.
                                       Sarah Ban Breathnach

I carry the image in my heart of our granddaughter at a young age with her arms opened wide saying, "Thank you so much." I don't remember what we gave her, whether it was a birthday gift or a small "I love you" gift. No matter, for what I remember was her enthusiastic and generous ability to say "thank you." She felt it and meant it and showed it. I suspect a hug and a kiss followed the words.

When was the last time you said "thank you" with such openness and genuine appreciation? When was the last time you felt a lift of gratitude in your heart? When you felt that awareness of gratefulness, how did you express it? 

Giving Thanks
November is a month when giving thanks is part of our consciousness. We know at the end of the month the tradition is to gather with family and/or friends to not only feast, but to give thanks. It is the giving thanks that interests me right now. 

Gratitude's active partner is expressing the gratitude. Showing it. Living it. Giving it. How do you do that? What are some ways you might do that this month? 

Thoughts About Gratitude
The word "thanks" comes from Indo-European words for "think" and "thoughtfulness." The implication of that, it seems to me, is that in order to feel gratitude, we need to live with awareness, with a spirit of reflection.  Deciding to live with gratitude is a deep spiritual decision of how you want to relate with life, of adopting an attitude of not giving into life's inevitable ups and downs.

"A thankful person is thankful under all circumstances. A complaining soul complains even if he lives in paradise." Founder of the Baha'i faith

Living this way goes beyond being optimistic or a Pollyanna or in denial, or even the ability to see something positive in any situation, but instead the attitude of being ever thankful arises from an overflowing heart. 

We are grateful for the very fact of being alive. We are grateful for what was and yet will be. We are grateful for the love in our life and the love we are capable of giving. We are grateful for the breath in our body. We are grateful for our ability to feel a bit more alive each and every day. So many gifts.

And what do we do when we receive a gift? We give thanks. 

The feeling of gratitude opens the heart more than any other emotion, except perhaps love, and gratitude is the sister of joy. The more you find to be grateful for, the more you will open your heart and enhance your life, and the more you open your heart, the more you will find to be grateful for. What a wonderful circle. And in that circle of gratitude, the giver of a gift become the receiver of thanks, and the one who responds with thanks enlarges the gift. 

Gratitude as Spiritual Practice 
"Saying thank you is more than good manners. It is good spirituality." Alfred Painter

The ability to recognize life's gifts arises from what Buddhist's call "mindfulness." Gratitude as a spiritual practice (Note the word "practice.") is the intention to live in the present attentively, in order to see with the Awakened Eye of Thanksgiving. What will your Awakened Eye see this month of Thanksgiving and how will you express your gratitude for what you notice?

"Jewish tradition gives us a goal. We should say one hundred blessings each day. When we try it, we discover that it's quite difficult to find one hundred things each day for which to be grateful. So difficult, in fact, that we spend most of our time looking." Daniel I. Schwartz and Mark Hass 

Thank You
 I am so grateful to each of you for taking the time to read my blog and allowing me to enter your heart, mind, and spirit. Writing this blog is a spiritual practice for me and reminds me whenever I sit at my desk to give thanks for the opportunity to share my thoughts, hopes, and prayer.  

Thank you also for your comments and emails and for sharing my blog with others.
Please note that this week's Thursday meditation will focus on gratitude as a way to cultivate gratitude in your life. Watch for a new post on Thursday, November 7. 

An Invitation 
How will you live with greater gratitude this month of Thanksgiving? In what ways can you express your gratefulness?
I invite you to share your intentions by adding a comment on this blog post.  

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