Seeds

File:Crocus Buds Flowers March 16, 2010.jpg

I have posted this before but, like most of our practice, it is something we need to remember, or be mindful of. At times we fall into the trap of complaining,  causing suffering for ourselves or others:

We often ask, ‘what’s wrong?’  Doing so, we invite painful seeds of sorrow to come up and manifest. We feel suffering, anger, and depression, and produce more such seeds. We would be much happier if we tried to stay in touch with the healthy, joyful seeds inside of us and around us. We should learn to ask, ‘what’s not wrong?’ and be in touch with that.

Thich Nhat Hahn

photo steven depolo

Stop, look, go

File:Apple orchard.jpg

It helps me to review my practice of gratefulness by applying … the rule I learned as a boy for crossing an intersection: “Stop, look, go.” Before going to bed, I glance back over the day and ask myself: Did I stop and allow myself to be surprised? Or did I trudge on in a daze? Was I too busy to wake up to surprise? And once I stopped, did I look for the opportunity of that moment? Or did I allow the circumstances to distract me from the gift within the gift? (This tends to happen when the gift’s wrappings are not attractive.) And finally, was I alert enough to go after it, to avail myself fully of the opportunity offered to me?

My simple recipe for a joyful day is this: Stop and wake up; look and be aware of what you see; then go on with all the alertness you can muster for the opportunity the moment offers. Looking back in the evening, on a day on which I made these three steps over and over, is like looking at an apple orchard heavy with fruit.

David Steindl-Rast, Awake, Aware and Alert

Opportunities

File:Frosted leaf - geograph.org.uk - 651482.jpg

There is a simple question that helps me to practice the second step of gratitude: “What’s my opportunity here?” You will find that most of the time, the opportunity that a given moment offers you is an opportunity to enjoy – to enjoy sounds, smells, tastes, texture, colors, and, with still deeper joy, friendliness, kindness, patience, faithfulness, honesty, and all those gifts that soften the soil of our heart like warm spring rain. The more we practice awareness of the countless opportunities to simply enjoy, the easier it becomes to recognize difficult or painful experiences as opportunities, as gifts.

David Steindl-Rast, Awake, Aware and Alert

photo alan murray-rust

Space for gratitude

File:Brave person walking out on the glacier point ledge.jpg

Then there was Jim, who said that for many years he took walks that were ‘ranting’ walks. He would walk and contemplate all the things that angered him about the world. One day he decided to begin taking ‘gratitude’ walks. ‘Now while I walk I recount all the things I am grateful for in my life and don’t allow myself to think of negative things at all. I have found this simple practice to be a great gift.’

John Izzo, The Five Secrets you must Discover before Your Die