It often feels like there are a million reasons to be grieving. Celebration and gratitude can seem out of place in a world desperately in need of love and healing. But to foster love we need to lean in more than ever to celebrating life. For healing we need to lean in to gratitude. We can take our hearts, so tender from imbibing all of the world’s pain, and use that softness to bring forth the sweet fragrance of forgiveness, understanding, gentleness, and caring.
Thoughts about what is going wrong are like candy to mind; addictive, enjoyable, and they eventually make us sick. Thanksgiving is chance to practice replacing those thoughts with the fruit and vegetables of the mind which are thoughts of thankfulness and gratitude.
There are so many small things that I forget to be thankful for that are truly miracles to experience. For example, I can walk and talk, my digestive system works well and my body is healthy, I can sing and dance, I can gaze at the moon on clear nights, I can hear birdsongs in the early morning. These thoughts are seldom mulled over in my mind the way worries are. So this holiday season I’m going on a mind diet; less candy, more fruits and vegetables. You can do this too by noticing what thoughts are most consistently running through your mind and making a choice to consume thoughts of thanks instead of complaints.
On a personal note, I have to tell you all how thankful I am every day for the community here at Let Yourself Learn, for this opportunity to delve more deeply into the ocean of living with you all, and for your love and support which permeate my every day. Bless you truly, and good luck with your holiday mind diet!
My recent birthday was filled with well wishes for happy returns of the day. But I discovered that even on a seemingly special day, like a birthday, I still carried old issues with me. The areas of my life that I struggle with did not miraculously disappear. In fact, issues can be magnified on days where you feel you are supposed to be happy and having fun but find that you still bear the burden of your own suffering. Special days can’t be created by events written on a calendar, rather they manifest from the experience of personal growth and expansion that proceeds from the faithful tending of your inner state.
There are times when faking it till you make it just doesn’t hold up, and liberation from the tumult in your mind is more quickly gained by just being honest about what you’re going through. So the day after my birthday I decided to ask my friends on Facebook what they would say to someone who was having a hard time. Their immediate compassion was a reminder to me that when you allow yourself to be where you are at and ask for what you need you are infinitely more likely to receive it:
1.This too shall pass… (Madeleine)
2.If you want someone to listen, I can do that. (Steve)
3.I am here for you…! (Libby)
4.Keep the faith. (Jessie)
5.Everything happens for a reason even if you may not know what that reason is at the time. (Ryan)
6.Want some pie? (Greg)
7.It gets better. (Kyle)
8.That sounds hard. I’m with you friend. (Melina)
9.Stay strong, it’s only gonna get better from here. (Adam)
10.I’m sorry this is happening to you right now. (Sheila)
11.I brought beer and pizza. (John)
12.I might not know what you’re going through but with faith everything will be alright! I love you and will keep you in my thoughts. (Mari)
If you think someone is having a difficult time, say one of these things to them! A little compassion goes a long way. If you knew someone was suffering what would you say to them?
It seems only a moment ago I was sitting in front of the fireplace at my grandparents’ house feeling completely at ease with my loving family all around me.
Annually in the weeks leading up to New Year’s Day my cousins from New Jersey stay at my grandparents’ house in the Chicago suburbs, along with my Uncle Joe from California, and we truly have ourselves a time. Every day is filled with one delightful activity after another, always followed by a home cooked meal, and lounging around while enjoying each other’s presence.
After our time together we all return to our respective locations; I leave the suburbs and return to my apartment in Chicago. Hopes and dreams for the new year usually don’t begin to creep into my consciousness until several weeks after my cousins have left.
When launching back into my usual situation I have to first focus on acceptance. Good or bad, when change occurs I easily identify with the situation. My thoughts and feelings become based upon the change I experience. Whether I react to the transition with great sadness, or with great expectations for the future, the nonacceptance is the ego taking hold. Because I hold onto nonacceptance, my actions become out of alignment with the present moment.
It is now my intention to send love to what has been, and allow myself to return to the only moment where such joy and love as I experienced with my family can ever exist, right now
Is there anything, good or bad, on which you have a strong internal grip? Take a breath and allow it to be as it was. Now give yourself permission to come back to what is real, come back to the present.
It is with a heart full of gratitude for you and your loving presence that I offer a gift of relaxation this Christmas. The video below is a guided relaxation, Shavasana, by yours truly with photography and music by Peter Spero. Thank you to Swami Satchidananda whose version of Shavasana this is based upon, and for many of the wise words and lessons included within it.
A lot of commercials on TV this time of year talk about how to relieve “holiday stress.” Stress is a symptom of a dysfunctional relationship with the present moment.
Have you gone too far ahead into future thoughts, or slipped backwards into thoughts of the past?
The dysfunction that manifests as stress may be a sign that the present moment has become a means to an end, as Tolle often points out in A New Earth. This can happen easily when the present moment contains planning, cooking, organizing, and preparing for an event that in some cases involves many people. This can also occur if an event is viewed as unfavorable and you are waiting for it to be over. Yet, truly successful ends are dependent upon successful means. Meaning, that the present moment experience creates the experience of present moments to come.
If the holidays create stress for you, give your mind a break from thoughts of past and future. Holidays are reminders to enjoy the experience of the present moment; signifying its importance and wonderment available not only during this one present moment experience, but at all times.
When I get too serious about situations I say to myself, “This is just for fun!” Figuring out what will snap you back to the present, where all joy resides, can be an enjoyable and infinitely fruitful learning experience. This Thanksgiving let yourself experience the space from which all there is to be thankful for emerges, the present.
Ten Things I’m Thankful For (In No Particular Order):
- My health.
- The ability to walk and the use of my arms. (Ok I said two things here, but they are both under the general category of working extremities).
- Food and the ability to digest food.
- The five senses.
- Being alive.
- The experience of love.
- The eternal present.
- Other human beings. (My family, friends, co-workers, people I haven’t met yet, you).
- The planet earth and how I get to live on it. (Thanks to the movie Gravity for really solidifying my love of planet earth).
The more you are thankful for, the more you end up having to be thankful for! Where does your gratitude gravitate this Thanksgiving?