Our subject for October’s discourse was Gratitude, and although Tisiola closed our discussion with the beautiful poem entitled Remember, by Joy Harjo, I am including it here to open our ears and hearts to the beauty of reflection.
Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are: red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth,
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too.
Talk to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people are you.
Remember you are this universe and this universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.
That beautiful poem, expressing such gratitude, is going into my ever growing “Favourites” folder.
Co-Facilitator, Ricci, gave us all a brief overview of the evening’s topic, gratitude, and explained to us some of the findings, modern day Science, Philosophy, and the Spiritual world, are discovering on this ancient practice.
Most religions have espoused its virtues, for millennium, but with the incredible advances in science and in the medical world, it is now possible to actually see the amazing beneficial aspects being experienced by those practicing a life of gratitude.
There have been thousands of studies into this age-old phenomenon, and they demonstrate without a doubt, that people living a life of gratitude fare so much better, mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and are even far more resilient than non-practicing people, in times of despair. They are happier, more purposeful, more passionate, higher achievers, more generous, giving and forgiving, with less depression, better blood pressure, and the positive list goes on and on.
Professor Emmons, who has studied this subject for almost twenty years, maintains that Relational, Physical, Psychological and Spiritual aspects of those living a life of gratitude, clearly demonstrate great improvements in all aspects of a person’s life.
Another leading advocate for living a life of gratitude, is Benedict monk, Brother David Steindi-Rast who like the many, many others who have also spent a great portion of their lives studying, and living this practice, agrees wholeheartedly with the current day findings.
Brother David Steindi-Rast, also suggests implementing the following formula to help us to remember, and incorporate gratitude into our lives. It is based on the simple method we were probably all taught, when very young, to safely cross the road:
He says, STOP. You don’t have to rush through life, missing everything along the way. Allow yourself the pleasure of stopping, just to be.
LOOK. Open all of your senses. Eyes, nose, ears, touch, and taste. You’ll be amazed at all the beauty and splendour surrounding you, that goes unnoticed and not appreciated, every minute of your day.
GO. With all the wonderful opportunities that open up before you, once you start practicing a life of gratitude. Some call it synchronicity, some serendipity, others, good luck, but whatever you call it, you will notice, magical good things happening in your life, with amazing regularity.
And just to prove this point, Ricci gave us all a small pebble/ rock, with Gratitude written on one side, and a reminder, on the other side, to be grateful, for not only the blessings, but also the lessons, life rewards us with.
We also watched a brilliant video by Mike Pettigrew, called The Crazy Gratitude Experiment, where he turned his life around, by practicing gratitude every 30 minutes of the day, and in three days, his life began to rapidly improve.
Tisiola, then took the discussion deeper, by asking us to consider the world we presently live in, and whether or not, the majority of the population lives a life of gratitude, or not. And also, to think about the quality of our gratitude. And to understand, that the benefits available, are not for ourselves alone, but also to the person, to whom you are expressing your gratitude. We all know how lovely it feels, to have gratitude expressed to us.
I think we all agreed, those living a life of gratitude, would be in the minority, so we were asked to consider why? Why, when the benefits of living a life in grace and gratitude, clearly illustrate that the emotions we experience when feeling grateful, have amazing rewards. Even the ability to heal ourselves!
Physically, we are calmer, mentally we are far clearer thinking, and being the social beings that we are, we even relate to those around us far better.
Is it ignorance?
Does no one teach us these things?
Are we too busy these days, to even think about it?
Does our easy life, make us feel even more entitled?
Are we just hooked on instant gratification?
Tonga, where Tisiola comes from, has a beautiful greeting, which is also an expression of gratitude, and it is, “Malo e le lei” which Tisiola translates it for us to greet each other as “Thank you for being here” and our responses is to say, Ko au ‘eni, Malo“ which again she translates it as “I am here, thank you”.
In the small village where Tisiola was brought up, material things were neither things had nor coveted. What they had in abundance, however, was love, strong community connection, family and friends, and this way of being is encoded in her. Good manners, the delights of gift giving, and the exchange of gratitude were taught to her in her early years. She considers any other things she now has in her life, a bonus.
But as Tisiola reminded us, as humans, we can be rather forgetful at times. We often lack awareness; motor on with auto-pilot taking us who knows where because we often lack clear direction or intention, and half the time, if not more, we are not even present to what is happening.
So, what can we do, to improve this situation?
STOP, for a start, and bring Awareness into our lives. Develop our senses, to be sensory acute, which will bring consciousness into our daily activities. When we are walking, talking, eating, greeting, working or shirking, we can teach ourselves to see, and hear, and feel far deeper. And when we do, our hearts will develop a far greater capacity to love and care for all around us. We will also be far more grateful for all we have.
The more we practice gratitude, the more habitual it will become. Like any habit, it is formed and maintained, through repetition and commitment. We become the change, when gratitude becomes our way of life, and when it does, it will flourish into a perennial harvest.
So, two ways we can get more proficient at practicing gratitude, are, David’s STOP, LOOK, GO, and also the keeping of a gratitude diary. Or even just daily awareness to become more aware of what is around us, and to be grateful. That’s a start.
OK, so what about when life isn’t going to plan? Now there’s the rub!
Well not necessarily. If we let go of the myth, that life is supposed to be “All Good”, we are viewing the same scene from a different angle. And from this different angle, it is quite obvious, that life is made up of gifts that look good and are good, sometimes, and sometimes not, and those that don’t look good, but are.
That’s because gifts come in all different wrappers, but they are still gifts, so we should appreciate them as such.
Often the gifts that come in the form of lessons, are those wrapped in hardship and difficulty, and it is not until you reach their core, and reflect, that you realise the gift you have been given. Often far richer than the one in the fancy wrapping.
But accept them all! Be grateful for them! They are yours and yours alone. Every one of them has been chosen especially for you. You can share your gifts and lessons with others; of course you can, but how you experience them, will be unique. These gifts and lessons were created especially for you. For you! How amazing is that!!
And it’s not even Christmas yet.
But it is time for you to STOP * LOOK * and GO
Go on, get out there and check out all your amazing gifts!
But just before you go, and I wrap up so to speak, I am grateful, YOU took the time to read this blog.
Thank you, and Toodle-pip for now,