awakening joy: gratitude
What is bringing me joy right now?
I'm sat in a small town in the North coast of Wales called Criccieth. I found a small Christian community centre 'the nest' on the high street. There are teenagers hanging out in the room, hearing their conversations is joyful, entertaining. The silence when they leave is also joyful. Walking today along the rocky cliffs and sandy coasts. In the stormy winds, everything feels magical. Fluffy dogs, Hana and Chloe who I am living in a moving community with. Sofas, Cups of tea, the generosity of people we meet (being offered multiple places to stay, food, showers, songs). Receiving so many blessings in the night. Having completed my Awakening Joy Training, but still holding myself accountable to finish the blog posts, i like the sense of duty and commitment.
“The great open secret of gratitude is that it is not dependent on external circumstance. It’s like a setting or channel that we can switch to at any moment, no matter what’s going on around us”- Joanna Macy
Gratitude is a practice, its a cultivation, and a mind inclination. When we look for blessings in our lives, it is possible to find them and often its possible in even the most challenging times. If I'm having a bad day, or week, or month, and i choose to create a small amount of space to look for blessings, for things i feel grateful for, it always seems possible. It's definitely not always easy to carve this space out when i'm not feeling great or my mind is contracted, and sometimes its the last thing i want to do, but its possible, and it feels good to know that. Practicing gratitude is like training a muscle, the more we cultivate gratitude, the more we notice blessings, the more gratitude will arise. And when we practice, if we settle into the bodily feelings that come with gratitude, notice them, let them percolate, we get familiar with those too, and they become easier to access.
Think of something, someone you feel grateful for..... what happens in your body? Below is a drawing of what happened in my body when i thought about someone i felt grateful for.
PRACTICING WITH GRATITUDE
Gratitude Storm: I love this practice and i love bringing it to groups, I like calling it a storm because i love it when people throw gratitudes in at random and there isn't much structure. The gratitudes people bring seem to spark each other like lightning and the more gratitude's that arise, the more arise! The energy rises and i always leave feeling excited and very grateful.
Writing gratitudes: Whilst on a retreat last year, I wrote down what I was grateful for at the end of each day. I did this for a whole month. On day one i wrote down just a few things. By day thirty I was writing whole pages, and it took me over half an hour so I had to stop myself.
Texts with a friend: During the AJ course we got into pairs and texted at the end of each day some things we were grateful for. I did this with my friend Lucia for 2 weeks. It was such a beautiful way to reflect on the day, to notice blessings, to remember all of the beautiful things in my day, and have them heard by someone, it was magical to hear gratitude's from someone else's day too.
Three Gratitudes - By Carrie Newcomer
Every night before I go to sleep I say out loud Three things that I’m grateful for, All the significant, insignificant Extraordinary, ordinary stuff of my life. It’s a small practice and humble, And yet, I find I sleep better Holding what lightens and softens my life Ever so briefly at the end of the day. Sunlight, and blueberries, Good dogs and wool socks, A fine rain, A good friend, Fresh basil and wild phlox, My father’s good health, My daughter’s new job, The song that always makes me cry, Always at the same part, No matter how many times I hear it. Decent coffee at the airport, And your quiet breathing, The stories you told me, The frost patterns on the windows, English horns and banjos, Wood Thrush and June bugs, The smooth glassy calm of the morning pond, An old coat, A new poem, My library card, And that my car keeps running Despite all the miles. And after three things, More often than not, I get on a roll and I just keep on going, I keep naming and listing, Until I lie grinning, Blankets pulled up to my chin, Awash with wonder At the sweetness of it all.
Gratitude as a movement away from Capitalism
I was reading part of the chapter on gratitude: "What gets in the way of gratitude?" I had a few responses; capitalism was one of them and felt like an important one. In the AJ book - the responses to this question involve words like: "Rushing around, fatigue, goal, achievement, productively, to do's." One person said: "There just doesnt seem to be enough time to smell the roses." Those of us who live in capitalist societies are trained to keep going, our productivity is the most important thing, and is how we are accepted (or not) by society, so it makes sense that our goals, to-do lists and lack of time mean we don't/can't/won't stop to smell the roses. We are often taught we don't have enough and to be unhappy with what we do have, we learn to be ungrateful. If practising gratitude and cultivating Joy are supporting us to find fulfilment in our lives, then i believe they are anticapitalist movements.
1. Go back through the third AJ training call and write up notes. 2. Type up notes in my book from the fourth theme: Joy in difficult times, do some drawings for that post.