On Gratitude, Thankfulness & Remembrance
Okay, I realize it’s still a few weeks away (or already happened in October for Canadians.) But it’s my favorite holiday, and I try to practice 365 days a year.
I attempt to teach (by example in my daily life, and through my writing) kids and grown ups how to be more mindful. I am a school teacher (bilingual 3rd grade) and a yoga teacher.
Although mindfulness means being focused on the present moment, contemplating the past can also sometimes be a mindful activity. Gratitude means that look back on what has happened with appreciation for it. All of it. There is no failure. There is no wrong answer.
There are ways to cultivate gratitude. Write down what you’re grateful for. Say it out loud. Remind yourself of the good things in life. This is not to say, “be a happy, positive person all the time.” Plastering a fake smile on your face isn’t really going to help.
Gratitude begins with the breath.
Although our breath is with us from the moment of birth until the moment of death, most of the time we take it for granted.
With mindfulness, we cultivate awareness of and gratitude for the in-breath and out-breath which connects us to the body and the perfection that is the present moment.
There is no need to control or lengthen the breath. Just let it be natural. Let it flow in and out, feeling the sensation, enjoying the simplicity of the air filling your lungs and then exiting your nostrils, over and over.
What are you grateful for? Here are 11 things I’m grateful for today:
1. My sweet students
2. The freeing feeling of bicycling downhill and the fact that I have a bike to ride
3. My life partner, who loves me and who cooks and cleans better than I do
4. My sweet readers (Twice in the past couple of months, women who live here at Lake Atitlan who are mothers of students at the school where I teach have come up to me at school and told me they read and loved an article, only to get to the bottom of the page and discover that I had written it!)
6. My daughter’s infectious laughter
7. My yoga practice and the dharma teachings
8. Music—all of it
9. Oscar, my cuddly black cat
10. My ability to speak Spanish
11. My family and friends
Here are 22 of my favorite quotes about the importance and value of gratitude.
1. If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice. ~ Meister Eckhart
2. Gratitude is the memory of the heart. ~ Jean Baptiste Massieu
3. The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you. ~ John E. Southard
4. I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. ~ G.K. Chesterton
5. Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all. ~ William Faulkner
6. When eating bamboo sprouts, remember the man who planted them. ~ Chinese Proverb
7. Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving. ~ Kahlil Gibran
8. No one is as capable of gratitude as one who has emerged from the kingdom of night. ~ Elie Wiesel
9. Ingratitude is the essence of vileness. ~ Immanuel Kant
10. I thank God for my handicaps, for, through them, I have found myself, my work, and my God. ~ Helen Keller
11. Tolerate, change, or be grateful. ~ Anonymous
12. Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others. ~ Cicero
13. Saying thank you is more than good manners. It is good spirituality. ~ Alfred Painter
14. Gratitude is an art of painting an adversity into a lovely picture. ~ Kak Sri
15. If you have lived, take thankfully the past. ~ John Dryden
16. As each day comes to us refreshed and anew, so does my gratitude renew itself daily. The breaking of the sun over the horizon is my grateful heart dawning upon a blessed world. ~ Terri Guillemets
17. For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
18. If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness. It will change your life mightily. ~ Gerald Good
19. You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might pray also in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance. ~ Kahlil Gibran
20. Wherever I have knocked, a door has opened. Wherever I have wandered, a path has appeared. ~ Alice Walker
21. Who does not thank for little will not thank for much. ~ Estonian Proverb
22. All that we behold is full of blessings. ~ William Wordsworth
The Magic of Thanksgiving: A Harvest from the Seeds of Gratitude
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Ed: Bryonie Wise