In this fast paced, twitter-tweet-news-in-the-moment world, gratitude slows me down. When I consciously focus on the question—for what am I grateful today— the question in and of itself slows my monkey mind. After two and a half years of daily practice, I have trained my mind to slow and seek out the answer.
Lately, and to my delight, my friend Carol gave me feedback about her own experience of experiencing gratitude. She described it as a “process,” an apt description. In these weekly essays, I try to show how the process of gratitude engages one’s sense of self to include other human beings, the natural world and beyond.
The more I engage with the question—what encounter, what experience of noticing makes me grateful— the more I slow and go deeper within myself. In practice, the seeking is a spiritual quest, to go beyond the immediate and tap into what appeals and resonates with one’s being.
Yesterday, I attended a class with eight other mental health professionals. The topic, A Hot Button Intervention Model, was taught by Stanley Gross, Ed.D. Close to ninety, this was Stanley’s last teaching engagement on a subject he has studied and taught for much of his long career. We all have “hot buttons”—events out of the blue which set off reactivity and behavior that is familiar and often, uncomfortable.
I needed CEU’s for my professional license, and signed up in the hope that I would come to understand my quick, impulsive reactions in the face of a threating situation. Each of the participants shared a recent hot button experience. Mine was with a recent unexpected bout with vertigo. Stanley is all about process, and the need to take time to assess and evaluate the unconscious origins of a hot button reaction.
After six hours, I came away calmer, more aware of the how I over-reacted to this particular incident and its source in resurrecting a similar childhood experience. Stanley’s knowledge and teaching skills, a man in a similar life stage to my own, offered an experiential training. You can see how such a gift of new information and behaviors could bring immeasurable gratitude.
Additionally, I reconnected to a social worker/writer friend and renewed memories of a colleague we have in common. It made my gratitude experience all the sweeter.
In these Trumpster times, we need ways to move out and beyond the immediate, to give pause, to engage and refresh our senses. Each of the participants, all therapists who spend much of their workday dealing with others shared their relaxation practices. They included: swimming daily, dance, hiking, walking, working out, especially with weights. I practice David Dorian Ross’s Tai Chi Flow, a breathing/meditative/movement practice.
I am grateful to share my recent experience and the benefit that comes from a deeper engagement with unconscious aspects of myself. I am grateful to those of you who are reading this and would enjoy your comments about a recent gratitude experience.
My recent gratitude experience is reading this blog. so happy I inspired you to think “process””. Your description within this blog is helpful to your readers who will learn and appreciate your interpretation.
Hugs to you,
Carol, thanks for your affirmation and support in my endeavor to seed the gratitude process as a daily practice.
Yay, Faye! Your gratitude practice is rippling outwards. I sat on my yoga mat this morning and began to center myself. “Faye says gratitude is the best way,” I thought. Voila! It was comforting and beautiful. Thank you, Faye for your continued thanksgiving and writings on it. Much needed, and much appreciated!
Kat, Like a figure 8 energy release, your affirmation lifted off the page right into my heart. I could see you on the mat, centering yourself… Thank you!
Dear Faye – thanks for sharing your thoughts, as always. It got me thinking, which is, of course, what it’s all about. I had a lovely experience just a couple of days ago, which has caused gratitude to just bubble up. My 17 yr.old granddaughter asked me for help with a writing project she has for AP English. She has read “The Grapes of Wrath” and needs to answer the question: “What is an individual’s role in confronting injustice?” using examples from the intercalary chapters! This set off an exploration to find out about “intercalary” chapters – an adventure in itself – and then a re-reading of the book. The opportunity for new learning, a topic that is both timeless and urgent, and Elana’s loving and grateful response to me for my help combined to make me feel so grateful that I am still able to be helpful in a meaningful way.
Dear Joan, what a heartfelt and moving story. The connection between you and Elena is such a beautiful example of steadfast love and engagement. How fortunate she is to have you by her side taking steps in learning that will carry her far in future endeavors. Thanks for sharing!
I am grateful for you–and your heartwarming reflections.
Robin— I am grateful for your comment.
I am grateful for your blog and your consistent and kind counsel! Keep writing.
Heather, thank you, so much. I will keep writing and you, too!!
Faye…as you say, so much to be grateful for if we only stop and reflect. I’m grateful for the well trained drs. at MGH who have taken excellent care of both myself and steve during this past yr. And more recently, that the stomach bug i picked up yesterday seems to be subsiding! Grateful to be getting on a plane wednesday to visit sister in sunny california…and grateful that you continue to write this inspiring blog.
Pat, yes.Thank you for sharing your gratitude reflections. I am grateful to have you and Steve as dear friends and am so thankful that your recent health issues have been resolved. Enjoy sunny California and beautiful Carmel…. I will enjoy thinking of you on the beach! Safe travel.
I like how the “layers” of gratitude fill this essay–from discussion with a friend, to learning from a teacher on his last (teaching) engagement, to reflections from just an everyday encounter with a fellow social worker. The words feel filled with kindness, and warmth.
Rosemary, thank you for noting the “layers” of gratitude described in this piece. There were so many more, like a seven layer cake filled with unexpected delight.
I am grateful for my family and all the support they give me!
I am thankful for the opportunity to meet a lovely young man the day he became a US citizen!
I am thankful that Phil and I still live independently!
I am thankful for OLLI, and the stimulation and new friends it has brought into my life! I could go on and on…Iam a lucky woman and I am grateful for that!
Liza, I so enjoyed your comment, and especially your gratitude that you and Phil live independently and your gratitude for being so lucky! I’m grateful for your warm hearted embrace of your life and for the many, many years we have been family. Onward!
There are so many glorious parts in my life that I am deeply grateful for. Each day, upon rising, I smile when I focus on the images of my daughters and grandkids! I am grateful to know and love them deeply, and to be closely knitted into their busy lives.
Just being a traveler in Japan has given me a deeper understanding of my desires and yearnings. I am a foodie, and experiencing many exquisitely prepared and presented authentic Japanese foods in a restaurant such as Monk, just a ten minute bus ride from my place in Kyoto, brought immense gratitude to my plate.
I woke up this morning filled with warm memories of gratitude for my monthly women’s group, where I have loving feelings toward my dear girlfriends.
I am forever grateful, too, fot the joys of nature in all that it awakens in me! I will soon walk across the street to the Palace Gardens, where many surprises are waiting!
Bev, I so appreciated your sharing the many glorious parts of your life that bring you gratitude. I have the sense that the setting you chose for your visit in Kyoto, Japan, has offered enormous delight, beauty, and a deepening of your quest for self knowledge. How wonderful and special that you have been able to immerse yourself these past few weeks. I hope you continue to enjoy your foodie quest as well the surprises awaiting in sites like the Palace Gardens.