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.

 

Boundless Gratitude

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Thank you for this sage.

Thank you for this moment.

Thank you for this life.

Thank you for the birdsong.

Thank you for the lake.

Thank you for this breath.

Thank you for the sky.

Thank you for the volcanoes.

Thank you for the flowers, fruits and food.

Thank you for love, and the moon.

Thank you for friendship and family.

Thank you for yoga.

Thank you for music, art, being, gratitude.

Thank you for seeing and looking, listening and hearing.

Thank you for the trees.

Thank you for the cats and dogs.

Thank you for all the animals.

Thank you for the ocean and all the water.

Thank you for the world and the universe and stars.

Thank you for my body.

Thank you for my mind,

Thank you for my soul.

Thank you for my heart.

A New Story of Thanksgiving

Once upon a time, last week, the people of a great and vast nation elected a morally bankrupt billionaire TV star as their government leader.

Nothing has changed, yet everything has.

Is it worse than we think, or should we give the guy a chance?

Reactions are as unique and diverse as our personalities, and largely dependent on our demographics. Lots of old white people are afraid of losing their “freedom”, in other words, their long-held privilege. A multitude of privileges, really, that the brown/POC have never known.

According to the New York Times, the “failing” publication Mr. Trump so despises, 85% of the land area of the United States of America is “Trump’s America,” versus just 15% of the coastal regions and urban centers which make up “Clinton’s America.” However, Hillary Clinton did win the popular vote by 1 million at last count. Regardless, the rural areas pushed Trump over the top and he won the 270 electoral votes necessary…. in theory, at least.

The official Electoral College vote is on December 19th. There is a movement to persuade electoral college votes in each state to “vote their conscience,” in other words NOT to vote for Donald Trump. It isn’t probable, but it is possible.

And in this case, it really would be the lesser of two evils. Hillary Clinton may be a corrupt, establishment politician but at least she is experienced in world and domestic affairs, at least she is not full of the hatred and bile of Trump and his die-hard fans. Bernie Sanders would have been a better candidate, and probably would be the President-elect today if the DNC hadn’t nominated Hillary.

People are either happy, relieved and triumphant (if they voted for Trump); complacent, curious and concerned (if they did not vote for Trump and are white and middle-class or wealthy); or fearful, devastated and confused (if they did not vote for Trump and are not white, not male, not Christian, not straight).

In the middle of the American Civil War, President Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day, to be celebrated on the final Thursday in November 1863. Of course, the “First Thanksgiving” had been celebrated 242 years earlier by the Pilgrims and Native Americans after the immigrants’ first harvest in the New World.

Naturally, the subsequent genocide of Native Americans by whites led to a souring of the original feelings of community celebration. University of Texas professor Robert Jensen says, “One indication of moral progress in the United States would be the replacement of Thanksgiving Day and its self-indulgent family feasting with a National Day of Atonement accompanied by a self-reflective collective fasting.” He certainly has a point.

Nonetheless, Thanksgiving is a time to come together with family and friends, to bask in gratitude, to feast, to celebrate life and love. This year’s political drama is taking its toll on families divided by liberal and conservative belief systems. Many will not come together at the dinner table due to these ideological differences, and those who do will probably want to avoid the subject altogether, if that is possible.

What if, despite feeling fearful, devastated, confused, depressed and/or anxious about the present and the future, we choose to sit down at the table together, anyway: black, white, red and yellow?

What if we choose to make peace?

What if we look and see the fear underneath the hate?

What if we choose to celebrate?

What if we choose to open our hearts and minds to other points of view, to new horizons, to gratitude?

May the spirit of thanksgiving dwell in all of our hearts, today and every day.

There is so much to be grateful for, and we are here on Earth for a purpose.

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I WON’T let it slide if a friend makes degrading comments about a minority or women. Even if it’s over Thanksgiving dinner, I’ll push back and say something like: “Come on! You really think that?!” ~ Nicholas Kristof, A 12-Step Program for Responding to President-Elect TrumpThe New York Times

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.