It's Thanksgiving week here in the US . . . a week traditionally spent cooking, gathering with friends and family, and reflecting on our many blessings. I've decided to take a little break from my usual blog "structure" (such as it is) to focus on gratitude this week.
"Gratitude is a gracious acknowledgment of all that sustains us, a bow to our blessings, great and small, an appreciation of the moments of good fortune that sustain our life every day. We have so much to be grateful for."
--- Jack Kornfield
I've had a daily meditation practice for a long time. Longer than I've been blogging, for sure. Way longer. Sometimes I just sit in silence with my coffee in the morning and meditate. Sometimes I walk and meditate. Sometimes I knit and meditate. Sometimes I pull weeds and meditate. Sometimes I sit down on a cushion and light candles. Sometimes I use mala beads. Sometimes I use an app. Sometimes I listen to music. Sometimes I balance my chakras. Sometimes I follow the moon. There are so many ways to meditate!
I got started with meditation years and years ago because my rheumatologist suggested I give it a try. So I did. Meditation wasn't such a "thing" back then . . . as it is now. You had to look pretty hard to find good information about developing a meditation practice in the early 90s! One of my very earliest meditation "teachers" was Jack Kornfield, who I discovered in books from the library and articles from my rheumatologist. (Because the internet was more just a new idea back then, and there were certainly no apps yet.) One of the first types of meditation I tried . . . was Jack Kornfield's gratitude meditation. It's still my favorite, and I do it regularly.
I thought I'd share it with you today. Maybe you'd like to try it yourself.
Jack Kornfield's Meditation on Gratitude and Joy
(which can also be found on his website or in any number of books and apps)
Let yourself sit quietly and at ease. Allow your body to be relaxed and open, your breath natural, your heart easy. Begin the practice of gratitude by feeling how year after year you have cared for your own life. Now let yourself begin to acknowledge all that has supported you in this care:
With gratitude I remember the people, animals, plants, insects, creatures of the sky and sea, air and water, fire and earth, all whose joyful exertion blesses my life every day.
With gratitude I remember the care and labor of a thousand generations of elders and ancestors who came before me.
I offer my gratitude for the blessing of this earth I have been given.
I offer my gratitude for the measure of health I have been given.
I offer my gratitude for the family and friends I have been given.
I offer my gratitude for the community I have been given.
I offer my gratitude for the teachings and lessons I have been given.
I offer my gratitude for the life I have been given.
Just as we are grateful for our blessings, so we can be grateful for the blessings of others.
Now shift your practice to the cultivation of joy. Continue to breathe gently. Bring to mind someone you care about, someone it is easy to rejoice for. Picture them and feel the natural joy you have for their well-being, happiness, and success. With each breath, offer them your grateful, heartfelt wishes:
May you be joyful.
May your happiness increase.
May you not be separated from great happiness.
May your good fortune and the causes for your joy and happiness increase.
Sense the sympathetic joy and caring in each phrase. When you feel some degree of natural gratitude for the happiness of this loved one, extend this practice to another person you care about. Recite the same simple phrases that express your heart’s intention.
Then gradually open the meditation to other loved ones and benefactors. After the joy for them grows strong, turn back to include yourself. Let the feelings of joy more fully fill your body and mind. Continue repeating the intentions of joy over and over, through whatever resistances and difficulties arise, until you feel stabilized in joy. Next begin to systematically include the categories of neutral people, then difficult people and even enemies until you extend sympathetic joy to all beings everywhere, young and old, near and far.
My best wishes to all of you . . . for a weekend filled with peace and solace, time to rest -- and . . . gratitude. Thank you, as always, for being here!