Gratitude for All Seasons

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Gratitude is the fusion of happiness and awe.

By cultivating authentic gratitude, we wake up to the beauty of each moment—whatever it contains. All experiences and emotions are greeted with an open heart and we become indestructible warriors of love.

I was just in the United States, visiting home for Thanksgiving—celebrating that holiday in the US the first time in a decade. The longer I live in rural Guatemala, the more I drift from the busy busy lifestyle I used to lead in the States—and the more intense the reverse culture shock is when I return for visits.

Mostly, I felt overwhelmed and had to work to stay grounded and present. At the same time, I was grateful to spend time with my cherished family and dear old friends.

By practicing gratitude on a regular basis, we can each cultivate and express the natural warmth and loving kindness that dwells within our heart—connecting more deeply with ourselves and others.

We can also shift to a higher level of consciousness that sees learning opportunities in all situations, realizing that our state of mind determines the state of our lives. Scientific studies show that having an attitude of gratitude enhances our physical and mental health.

Keep reading for 7 reminders to assist you on the path of gratitude.

 

6 Radical Spring Cleaning Suggestions

 

“I dedicate the merit of the occasion to all beings. This gesture of universal friendship has been likened to a drop of fresh spring water. If we put it on a rock in the sunshine, it will soon evaporate. If we put it in the ocean, however, it will never be lost. Thus the wish is made that we not keep the teachings to ourselves but to use them to benefit others.” ~ Pema Chodron

Mid-March is upon us, and in our household, it’s time for some serious spring cleaning. There’s much more to it than traditional chores like dusting, sweeping, washing, organizing, and rearranging….Here are six alternative ideas to spruce up our spring selves.

1. Sweep out the mental cobwebs.

Partake in morning, noon and night meditations. Just a few precious moments at sunrise, midday, and sunset can clear our minds. Gaze up at the sky. Connect with the breath. Resist the urge to check your phone or mentally compose your next email or status update.

Think of it as sweeping out the dusty corners of your mind, opening the windows and inviting in a refreshing breeze for tea. No matter what problems, joys, and dramas we are currently dealing with in life, we can choose to set them aside and just be for a little while, multiple times each day.

“I am going to try to pay attention to the spring. I am going to look around at all the flowers, and look up at the hectic trees. I am going to close my eyes and listen.” ~ Anne Lamott

2. Do a spring cleanse.

Spend a day (or, better yet, a week) eating extra mindfully and lightly. We don’t have to go to the extreme of the master cleanse (the one that use lemonade, molasses, and cayenne pepper mix) in order to get the benefits of a detox. Cut out alcohol, coffee, dairy, cheese, white sugar, and enriched flours. Eat fresh fruits, raw salads, or lightly steamed veggies. Drink loads of natural juices, herbal teas, and pure water.

Resetting our diet is a powerful way to spring clean. Just be sure to ease out of it gradually by reintroducing foods like brown rice, potatoes, and whole grain breads, as opposed to diving back into eating meaty or fried dishes, right after your cleanse officially ends.

“I tried a juice cleanse, and it was a total disaster. For the eight hours that I lasted, I felt like I was on the brink of starvation. For me, it’s about making the right choices.” ~ Ivanka Trump

3. Practice “spring of consciousness” writing.

Keeping a diary costs nothing, is freeing, and can be extremely therapeutic. Use a new notebook or open a new document on your computer. Set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes and just write your heart out. Whatever you’re thinking or feeling, let it spill out uncensored onto the page. No stopping, no editing, no planning. What comes out needn’t be legible, logical, or lovely. It doesn’t have to come out in perfect sentences or even make sense.

This is your sacred, private space for expression. Go back and reread it at the end of the day, month, or year. Take time for reflection, noting how you’re evolving, growing, and healing. Save the pages, or burn them in letting go ceremony.

“I want to do to you what spring does with the cherry trees.” ~ Pablo Neruda

 

Keep reading!

The Trecena of Tzi: 13 Days of Authority

Today is 1 Tz’i. The next two weeks (or, technically, 13 days) will make up the trecena of T’zi. Learn more about how the Mayan calendar works here.

According to the Mayan cosmovision, these are days for examining our concepts of and beliefs around law and authority (both material and spiritual); fidelity; vengeance; order, accuracy and precision; and sexuality.

Tz’i energy reminds us to avoid ambition, pride, envy, lies, crime, ignorance and ingratitude. Tz’i’s animal totems are the dog, coyote and raccoon. Its direction is south and color yellow.

In The Serpent and the Jaguar: Living in Sacred Time, Birgitte Rasine writes that Tz’i  calls on us to “wake up, stand up, and claim the extraordinary power of our personal, spiritual, economic and political authority to start changing the way human society interacts with the planet and its life-sustaining resources.” During this time period, the Maya “pray that justice be granted to all people.”

This trecena is the time to reflect on the concepts of authority, justice, law and law enforcement. What do those things mean, to you as an individual and to us as a society?  Rasine advises: “Think about the authority that you exercise within your spheres of influence…” from family to work to community to media and more.

“Consider how established your authority is, its source and what it depends upon.”

This is likewise a good time to think about privilege, specifically white privilege. How much of our authority depends on our race, our ethnicity, our skin color? What media are we consuming? What narrative is that media trying to spin about black  and brown versus white and “blue” people (the police)? How can we see through the thin veil of spun stories and remember our innate goodness and equality? How can it be that the “justice” system is so biased and stilted, so very far from engendering equality?

Walk the fine line of humble authority without crossing over into arrogance or bossiness. Live the paradox of cultivating beginner’s heart-mind while honing your skills and knowledge in your areas of authority.

5 Simple Ways to Infuse Our Daily Lives with Love

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Wake Up with Love

It’s a new day. It’s a blessing to be alive. Listen to the sounds. Listen to your breath. Do a  bit of stretching and moving. Mindfully brush your teeth (and/or swish coconut oil), brew a cup of tea, enjoy some fresh fruit. Sit quietly with gratitude for a moment before diving into your daily tasks.

Blessed Be the Food

Sit with your plate before you. Place your palms over the food. Thank you, sun, moon, rain, wind, and soil. Thank you, farmers, distributors, market sellers, cooks and servers. Thank you self, friends and family for sharing this meal. Eat slowly, taste fully, with appreciation. This style of mindful eating leads naturally to a desire for wholesome, natural, local and delicious foods.

Find Your Balance

“Do not hurry; do not rest.” ~ Goethe

Listen to your intuition. It is a day for much action and productivity? Is it a day for reflection and rejuvenation? Are you more alert and energetic in the mornings, afternoons or evenings? It’s okay to feel however you feel. Notice, accept and embrace the flavor of the moment.

Do Gazing Meditation

At the sky; into the eyes of your dog, partner, baby, best friend; at the leaves on the trees; at a flower; at the river flowing. Spend a few moments gazing into nature. The sky is always there. Even if it’s not blue today, gaze upward, feel small and touch the sky with your heart.

Give Love

Look within and ask yourself: “Do I need to give love to myself and/or others today?” Soon enough it will be mutual, boundless exchange. Write a sweet note to an old or new friend… or to yourself in your journal. Have a meaningful conversation. Pick a bouquet of wildflowers to give someone. Smile and make eye contact with a stranger. Prepare food with love. Speak with love. Write emails with love. Breathe love.