This week it’s Thanksgiving in the United States. Thanksgiving is neither restricted to one day, nor is it the domain of one nation:

Grace isn’t a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It’s a way to live.

 

— Jackie Windspear

Thanksgiving comes to us out of the prehistoric dimness, universal to all ages and all faiths. At whatever straws we must grasp, there is always a time for gratitude and new beginnings.

 

— J. Robert Moskin

Being thankful is timeless. One can be thankful for the past and for the future. It’s one inner quality that actually negates the truth that the present moment is the only moment available to us. Kind of… Being thankful is such a deep appreciation that it can lift one up and out of the metaphysics of time/space. Yet it must be felt and practiced in the present moment. Thankfulness can’t be allotted to specific experiences and areas of your life. Either you’re all in, or you’re not.

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.

 

— Gratefulness.org

Sanskrit has this wonderful word and truth: santosha or contentment.

So, what is contentment, and how do we incorporate it as an “observance” in our lives? Contentment is serenity, but not complacency. It is comfort, but not submission; reconciliation, not apathy; acknowledgment, not aloofness. Contentment is a mental decision, a moral choice, a practiced observance, a step into the reality of the cosmos. Contentment/santosha is the natural state of our humanness and our divinity and allows for our creativity and love to emerge. It is knowing our place in the universe at every moment. It is unity with the largest, most abiding, reality.

 

— Swami Shraddhananda

© Pamir Kiciman 2010

We can be grateful in the past, but this can only be felt in the present. We can also be grateful for difficulties in the past. There lies the greatest treasure of gratitude. Not only is there treasure within the difficulties, there’s much to be thankful for that’s occurring simultaneously with those life moments that are troublesome. Similarly, we can be grateful for the future and again this can be only felt in the present.

What is this present? It’s where your body is right now. Your mind may be elsewhere and it may be pulling your body to go there too, but your body has the power to stay where it is, and call your mind home to itself. Your mind may be affecting your body by being somewhere other than here, but your body has the means to settle into itself and be in balance. The body is weighted in the present.

Thankfulness is to be contemplated and understood. It is to be deepened and dwelled upon. It’s a practice, an ongoing positive habit. Once established, it blesses every moment you breathe. Thankfulness isn’t only in hindsight. It’s real power is now, today, the current inhale or exhale that’s happening in your body.

Reframing exercise

Sit. Feel the physical boundaries and weight of the body. Let yourself settle. Let the body settle like an anchor settles on the ocean floor. Follow your body’s breathing, without changing it in any way. As the sense of this deepens, the mind follows suit. Keep calling the mind to settle with the body. Let all of you BE HERE.

Now recall a past difficult experience. Gently turn it over in your awareness until you notice a new angle, one from which you’d never sensed this experience before. Be open to the possibilities of how it actually enhanced and enriched you, despite the trouble it also gave. Note also that you’re on the other side of it today.

Sit in appreciation.

Now direct your awareness to the last month of your life, including the present day in which you’re practicing this. Reframe any difficulty that’s currently in your life.

Journal about your gleanings. You can take all major trouble spots in your life into this process. Once you’re clear and empowered, establish gratitude as the ground that your feet touch when you get out of bed each morning, and the ground on which you lie down each evening.


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