At Home in the Body
We cannot be grateful unless we are grounded in the present moment, and we cannot be grounded in the present moment unless we are grounded in the body. Much of the time we live like disembodied minds, not even noticing what's around us, but preoccupied with past and future. But when this mug of tea warms first our hands and then our stomach on a cold day, or the cat purrs contentedly in our lap, we are suddenly present and grateful.
We can learn to cultivate the joy of this awareness, but it may not always be easy. Illness, poverty, old age, or abuse can make it a great challenge for us to accept embodiment. And yet, bringing ourselves back into the body again and again is central to the practice of grateful living. When we do so, we allow healing power to flow through us, and we appreciate our aliveness as the great gift it is.
I can think of nothing more fitting today than to post a Gratefulness Blog! I have tried so many times to accomplish a few small goals, to work on my health, to reduce my stress, to find joy... My attempts would last a few days, sometimes weeks and then I would fall back into old patterns and become stressed and overwhelmed again.
But, YOU! YOU all, have changed that for me. For 100 days now I have logged onto SparkPeople each day, taken my spin at the wheel, posted my sincere and heartfelt gratitudes and reported faithfully my small, but essential goal accomplishments. This may not seem like much, but as a 51 year old, new faculty member, trying to achieve tenure, I can tell you the journey is at times almost unbearable. I think often that I should have tried this in my 30s not my 50s. But, of course, that was not my journey or I would not be here now.
On those days when I was so overwhelmed, with illness, fatigue, feeling insufficient, or even incompetent, I would come here and receive my daily dose of love and SparkBlessings! It encouraged me and kept me going. The tiniest acts of "likes" on my activity feed, the SparkGoodies, the comments on my SparkPage, the private SparkMail I received -- all of it has been a tremendous encouragement and support.
My life is very different from 100 days ago. Well, yes, there is the fact that I have lost nearly 20 pounds and several inches and have more energy, but that is not the change of which I speak! The change is ME! Loving being here (wherever I am is here!). My job continues to be incredibly demanding, but I have a new approach to it. AND, more importantly I have found places to get positive, life affirming support -- this place is one of the most meaningful, but of course I have also now cultivated others as well! I am deepening my meditation and spiritual practices and perhaps, most important to me, I have become kinder, more compassionate. It is amazing, how when you stop feeling sorry for yourself, your situation, your obligations, and the demands put upon you, and begin to focus on your blessings, how the people around you become more human. My friends' needs and suffering have become more real and important to me. I am grateful to be able to support others in their journey. I am joyful to support others in their grief and suffering AND in their celebrations!
So, I don't think I have all the answers, nor am I finished with this journey. I know many obstacles lie ahead and the road will bring me more unexpected twists and curves and perhaps even a dead end or two. But, I am confident that I have cultivated the awareness and presence to be grateful for the blessings and to include the challenges as blessings to help me grow and learn, and more forward. Some days I say, "all right, enough lessons and growing for today." But, still I continue on without being frozen in my own self-pity or self-doubt.
Today, in this moment, I give thanks for all of you! This 100 Days and the changes I have made would not have been meaningful or joyful -- or even possible, without your presence! I bow deeply in gratitude, hands together, in honor and awe of your grace and generosity, AND of this Sacred Community!
Shalom and blessings to all!