Gratitude and Giving Thanks
I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude lately, especially as we approach our Thanksgiving holiday here in the US.
Thanksgiving is a tricky holiday for me, and for many Americans. While I love the concept of a holiday dedicated to gratitude, celebration of the harvest, and spending time with loved ones, I am also aware of the issues of cultural appropriation, genocide, the theft of and continued assault on Native lands and the Earth that the traditional narrative of this holiday represents. (What Does Thanksgiving Mean to Native Americans? is a really thoughtful and clear article about the complexities of the holiday for Native peoples and other Americans who are aware of the dark legacy of colonialism in our country.)
And… giving thanks, not just on a special day, but every day, is a beautiful thing. We know that gratitude is one of the highest energetic frequencies available to us; having gratitude, giving thanks, holding the blessings of our lives in our consciousness is one of the quickest ways to shift our energy. I also believe that gratitude, and thanks-giving is one of the most powerful ways that we have to shift the energy in the collective and on our planet.
I have a daily gratitude practice that is very simple. It’s something that has sustained me for many years, and helps me to begin each day in a frequency of appreciation, open-heartedness, and love.
Each morning, I get up, make my coffee, and feed the dogs and cats. Then, the dogs and I, and often a cat or two (usually Milo) pile back into bed.
“We have a whole new day to love each other!” I say out loud, every day, to them, and then I kiss them… usually a bit more than they want to be kissed. And then we watch the morning light as it washes over the mountains outside the bedroom window, we greet the clouds, my neighbor’s horses, the gorgeous New Mexico sky, the birds at the feeders, the trees near the house. I offer my gratitude for all of them, for the blessing of being alive another day, for the immense gifts of love, safety, and goodness that envelop us.
Often, as I drink my coffee, I’ll write in my gratitude journal, which is a simple notebook in which I list the things I am most grateful for each day. I usually feel that I could fill pages and pages, but I spend a few minutes making note of the things that come first to my awareness and my heart.
As I do this practice, I also hold in my awareness all of those beings who are suffering, struggling, in pain. And so my gratitude practice then flows into a practice of sharing this energy, in my own simple way, opening my heart to the world… may all beings be well, may all beings be safe, may all beings be happy.
The impact of this practice on my life has been profound. As the day unfolds, there is an anchor… a foundation of energy that reminds me what this life is about. This doesn’t mean I don’t get stressed, crabby, upset, impatient, or that heartbreaks and difficult things don’t happen… all of these things are part of our human experience. What it does mean is that my relationship to those things changes. My gratitude practice helps me to keep a wider perspective, even when things are challenging.
So… at this time of giving thanks, I invite you to practice gratitude… for all of the gifts, blessings, joys of your life, small and large. Invite your animal friends to join you in some way… delighting in the ordinary joys of life is one of their specialties.
With deep gratitude for each of you,