The 52: Lesson Forty Eight –I Am Grateful. I am Thankful.

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butterflyblueskyIf the only prayer you say in your life is “thank you,” that would suffice.

Meister Eckhart wrote those wise words. They, in their simplicity, provide a lesson for all of us.  We often lose sight of the many reasons we have to be grateful and thankful.  Our once a year Thanksgiving Day toast is nice but hardly enough.  Every day can be thanksgiving, even for the most simple gifts.

Being grateful and thankful increases our levels of happiness and engenders a sense of well-being.  Many writings on happiness recommend that we make a list of our blessings, write them down, and remember them right before we go to sleep at night, thus helping to pave the way for a peaceful sleep. I find that listing my reasons to be grateful helps me to remember the big and little reasons I have to be thankful. They may include having a comfortable bed for sleeping.  Having kind and loving friends. Knowing that my husband is resting next to me.   Having the means to enjoy nutritious food and have warmth in the cold winter months.  Enjoying an ice cream sundae. Take it from there.  You can see how easy it is.  And there is a surprise.  A miracle surrounds this act of gratitude.  Even on your darkest day, in the midst of sadness or grief, you experience a lifting, you can make contact with the light within you.

LESSON FORTY EIGHT

THANKFULNESS

Before I began writing The 52, I blogged on many subjects.  This is the one I wrote on gratitude.  I like it so much, I decided to include it in The 52.  

Instead of focusing on what we don’t have, on the negatives, on the injustices, on the minutia of aggravations that go on, feeling gratitude is, for many of us, another way to think.  We can easily find criticism in our everyday life — with the surly driver, the craziness of the political scene, the screaming and disconcerting headlines.  That is a slam dunk!  Wallow in it if it you must, but don’t forget what is REALLY important. You have a choice!

When I’m worried and I can’t sleep, I count my blessings instead of sleep,

and I fall asleep counting my blessings.

When my bankroll is getting small, I think of when I had none at all,

and I fall asleep counting my blessings.

Irving Berlin wrote those lyrics and the song was performed in the film, White Christmas.  It is likely that generations of young people have never heard the song, but this does not make the words any less valid.  They speak of a sleepy time practice that can bring happiness to the heart.  Couldn’t we ALL use a little of that?

Some ways to remember gratitude:

  • Make it a nightly practice to either write down or recite to yourself five reasons you have for being grateful.
  • Ask a friend to join you in remembering thankfulness.  Discuss it with someone.  Share the joy.
  • Send a note, text, email to someone and tell them you appreciate them and why.
  • Call someone on the phone and do the same thing.
  • Thank some one for their help or service.  It could be the dry cleaner or person who delivers the mail or the one checking you out of the grocery store.  Anyone.  Spread the joy and gratitude.
  • Think of someone you love who touched your life in a deep way.  Perhaps someone who has left this plane, died.  You can thank them too.  Don’t worry.  They will hear you, whether you believe this or not.
  • Include yourself.  Be grateful for the person you are who has done a kindness for another.  Applaud yourself simply for being you.
  • And there is another to thank.  Choose the name you like — God, the Divine, Supreme Consciousness, Allah, the Buddha, Jesus, Shiva.  A small thank you is a very big thing.

Many years ago, I learned an unexpected  lesson about gratitude when my husband and I traveled to East Africa.  As we wandered through a small village near Arusha, Tanzania, we had the good fortune to make the acquaintance of a young man and father who resided in one of the tiny enclaves of mud huts.  He spoke English, took us to his home, and became, in the course of a few hours, someone we would call a friend.  In this, one of our first journeys into a “third world country,” we felt determined to help him.  After returning home, we sent simple gifts to him and his children.  Practical items for school, books, medications, cash hidden in places where he would find it.  We soon learned some hard lessons. Some of the  packages were scrutinized or stolen. To our horror, he was accosted and beaten, his home ransacked in search of special items. In time, we heard no more from him.  We were deeply saddened and worried that our naive generosity had led to misfortune. Why would I tell this story now?  Because I am grateful to be in a country where this is much less likely to happen.  Because I never forget to be thankful for the freedoms we so blithely enjoy.  Because I have a long list of thank you’s and, in many places in the world, what I take for granted is not so possible.  I still wonder what happened to that bright and hopeful young man…

The playwright, Thornton Wilder, said this:

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.

What are your treasures?  What makes you thankful?  Try counting your blessings.  You may be surprised at the richness of your life, just as it is right now.

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more, go to http://www.deannemincer.com

About deannemincer

Deanne Mincer has been a long time student of religious and spiritual studies. For many years, she was a practitioner of yoga and in the late 1980's she was drawn to share her enthusiasm by becoming a yoga teacher. Her certification, from the Himalayan Institute, was a comprehensive two year program including the study of anatomy, diet, nutrition, Ayurvedic medical practices, the methods of teaching hatha yoga, the science of breath and the study of raja (the royal path of yoga) philosophy. She has taught yoga, meditation, and spiritual classes for more than twenty years. In the mid 1990's she became a follower of Siddha Yoga where she experienced a spiritual awakening called shaktipat and her teachings took on a new and freshly informed understanding. As Deanne continued her studies, she learned level one in Reiki and also sutdied with Henry Grayson, Ph.D. where she refined her work with muscle testing and the complex of energy healing methods Dr. Grayson has developed for use with his patients. Dr. Grayson's work is illuminated in his books, Mindful Loving and Use Your Body to Heal Your Mind. Deanne teaches group and private classes in yoga as well as stress reduction programs and meditation in many forms (sitting, walking, whirling, meditation in action, and "sleeping" meditation called yoga nidra). She has developed methods of using yoga in treating those with life threatening diseases as in the programs she designed for Gilda's Club and Friends in Deed in New York City. She was a consulting producer on an alternative health program for CNBC's Alive and Wellness, and she has demonstrated yoga on network television. Deanne created the audio DC, Inner Light Yoga with Deanne Mincer and she has spoken widely and demonstrated meditation in many venues. Deanne is an enthusiastic and joyful teacher. She is known for the keen interest she takes in her students' physical and spiritual development. She stresses that each student should work at their own pace in a non-competitive and caring environment. You can read some of the comments her students have shared in the Tesimonials Section of this site. Her teaching is grounded in her own steadfast spiritual awareness - that each of us is a being of eternal light and love and that we can all come to knowing this truth for ourselves. She is eager to help guide you on this joyful path of body, mind, breath and spirit.

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