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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in gratitude
Gratitude Adjustment--8 Things That Make You the Luckiest Person Ever

As some of you know, I grew up in a funeral chapel family. All throughout my childhood, my brother and I would tag along when our dad went to work, and we would run around the back of the chapel while he embalmed or made funeral arrangements. We had two phones at our house: our house phone, and the chapel phone, which could ring at any hour.

This proximity to the certainty of mortality came with so many blessings. One of my favorite is my ability to remember - in an instant! - how exceptionally lucky I am to spend even the tiniest of moments with a loved one. Another is my ability to bring myself back to an awareness of the unfathomable preciousness of every individual breath.

Still, it's easy to forget these things during the daily grind and the relentless hypnotism of our cultural messages. So, in the spirit of gratitude (and to warm us up for the upcoming holiday) I thought I'd share 8 of the countless things that make you the luckiest person ever.

1. Your loved ones. When I think about beloved people and animals who have passed, I know without a doubt that a single minute with them would be the most magical and precious gift I could possibly receive. And just think of the loved ones with whom we still get to have not just minutes, but hours, days--weeks even! Truly, could we be any richer or more blessed?

2. Your relative degree of health and ability. Wherever you fall on the spectrum of health, you very likely have a number of wonderful abilities, including (but not limited to) any or all of the following: the ability to walk, run, dance, speak, hug, laugh, see, hear, taste, smell, and touch. You also very likely have many or all of your appendages. We don't think of these things much when we have them, but if one of them disappears, how much we miss it, and treasure the memory! But just by remembering this, we can treasure these things now.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

...My bounty is in conversation August 2015 106
circling the veranda in
steady, strong loops
of raw possibility
hope and wonder.

My bounty is in moments of despair and hopelessness
that break like waves on the shore
and make way for sunrise.

My bounty moves quickly
fluttering like a butterfly
and traversing continents of desire
before alighting on a thistle
and beautiful.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Candise
    Candise says #
    this is just lovely, it is my morning inspiration. Thank you.
  • Molly
    Molly says #
    Thank you!

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_grateful-car-sm.pngYou know how action movies usually include some kind of chase? Usually it's one car chasing another through tight alleys or the turns of a parking garage. Depending on the period, the chase might launch itself on foot, on horseback, or through interstellar space by starship.

One of my yet-to-be-finished screenplays lays out a skateboard-and-bicycle chase.

Yesterday, my spiritual journey (and my career as Belly Queen) took on the flavor of an action film: Driving my red Honda Element, I chased a white Ford Explorer through the streets of Asheville.

I was on my way home when I noticed, and deciphered, the license plate on this vehicle in front of me. I so wanted to get a picture of it. One hand on the wheel, one hand rummaging in my purse for my smart phone, I more or less kept my eyes on the road. The Explorer kept pulling ahead and out of camera range. I passed the turn off that would have taken me home and kept going, praying the traffic light at the top of the hill would be red.

The light was red, but the Explorer was turning right on the green arrow. I followed, hoping the next traffic light would be red. It was. I whipped out my camera and clicked just as the light turned green and the Explorer veered left onto the interstate. I followed, not sure that the snapshot I'd taken through my windshield had captured the plate.

Once on the interstate, the Explorer pulled out of sight. I took the next exit and went home.

b2ap3_thumbnail_grateful-car-inset.pngChecking the photo on my phone, there it was: IMGR8FLL

Thank you, synchronicity. Thank you, bestower of grace. Thank you, personalized alert system that messages me however it can.

Yes, gratitude. Yes, I'm grateful.

I'm currently in love with Barbara Fredrickson's book Positivity (Random House, 2009). Gratitude is one of ten positive emotions she champions. Along with joy, hope, interest, pride, serenity, amusement, awe, inspiration and love, the felt sense of gratitude leads to human flourishing — feeling "more alive, creative, and resilient" as she says.

The key to flourishing is embodying these positive emotions three times more frequently than negative emotions, which she identifies as various shades of anger, fear, contempt, and shame.

What do positive and negative emotions have to do with belly wisdom? How do positive emotions such as gratitude relate to deepening breath and awareness into our body's center and energizing our hara?

My friend and Integral Bodywork originator Everett Ogawa says that, for him, lowering the breath into his body's center leads him into a bigger circle of understanding. He recognizes how life is so much larger than any human can comprehend. In the presence of such enormity he's thankful for whatever may be the span of his life, his tiny place in the great scheme of things. And he's moved by compassion to devote his time to helping others. Deepening his breath, gratitude becomes a whole-being experience, a felt sense of the precious gift that is the body, that is life itself.

Witness Everett's expression not only of gratitude but also of awe, inspiration, interest, serenity, and hope.

These and the other positive emotions that Fredrickson names are forces of attraction, connection, and bonding, linking us with others and with our essential selves.

In contrast, her roster of negative emotions are forces of separation, distancing us from others and from our essential selves. (James Joyce describes one of his characters: "Mr. Duffy lived a short distance from his body.")

My hunch: If we need to get all bioscience about it (and I'm not sure we do), the negative, separating emotions follow from the cranial brain's capacity for analytical thinking — a.k.a. sequential sorting and ranking and judging. The positive, unifying emotions follow from the gut brain's capacity for simultaneous synthesizing and encompassing.

With all of psychology's current fascination with neuroscience, the goings-on between the cranial brain and the rest of the body, I'm waiting for the day when these investigations expand to include the gut brain, the enteric nervous system.

[Be forewarned, this paragraph gets technical.] Cranial brain and gut brain communicate with each other through the tenth cranial nerve, the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve also connects cranial brain and heart. Current fascination with neuroscience includes detailing the vagus nerve's role in, for example, heart health and social engagement. Fredrickson's research suggests that positive emotions increase a person's perception of social connection, which in turn increases vagal tone, an indicator of physical health.

Energetically, emotions such as joy, serenity, and love reflect a state of being in which a person's life force (prana, chi, ki) is flowing fully and freely. Emotions such as anger and fear reflect a situation in which life energy is stuck and unbalanced — too much in one place, not enough in another.

Deepening awareness into the belly, energizing the body's center with movement and breath, activates the hara as our central powerhouse. Our body's center serves us as a dynamo, generously pulsing vitality through our whole body and being.

With our hara-powered life force flowing fully and freely, we're susceptible to feeling all kinds of positive emotions. Chances are that we and our lives will flourish.

For that, for the dynamo of life energy centered in our bellies, I'm grateful.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

This weekend, I led a goddess-centric workshop at my local new age store. Although I’ve been working with goddess for over a decade and writing and participating in rituals for about half that time, I’d never led a class with strangers. The opportunity popped up unexpectedly because of my book Goddess Spells for Busy Girls, and in the years since I penned the book, I’ve realized to trust that it knows what it wants, so when I was invited to present, I embraced the unexpected abundance and said yes.

I had a wonderful time sharing four of my favorite goddesses with the lovely workshop participants, and, in the spirit of abundance that typifies the work I do related to my little pink book, I wanted to share one of the meditations I wrote for this weekend with you. It’s a Lakshmi meditation, and since abundance is on my mind (and since we’re turning the tide to Beltane this week), I hope you’ll enjoy this journey.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Gratitude As A Spiritual Practice

First my apologies for my disappearance. No excuses. I just didn't schedule blogging time into my day. I've missed y'all!

In 2008, I created a spread I called Gratitude As A Spiritual Practice. I based this on something Joanna Powell Colbert said about how she viewed Gratitude as a spiritual practice. Normally when I create spreads, I go for smaller patterns with seven or less cards. I find those work better for me. But this one seemed to really need more. So it ended up being a total of thirteen cards.

I wanted to share this here because I think I've been missing a serious practice of giving thanks. I seek joy daily, yes. However, there seems to be a nuance, a flavor, a texture that isn't quite right. It's my belief that it is gratitude. Not just a weekly gratitude list, but a pause in my day where I take stock of things. Where I acknowledge the joys and give thanks for what's going right in my life.

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I like to think that I have embraced the image of The Great Mother as the epitome of dualities. It’s a mature image: she is both light and dark, strength and weakness, savior and destructor. This helps people relate to her, as humans embody all these differing and conflicting traits and we’re not static, one or the other. The Great Mother is everything, combines everything, reflects everything.

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 b2ap3_thumbnail_image_20141118-225341_1.jpgYou are invited to The 2014 Annual Hassle-Free Thanksgiving Event.

I started it in the early 80s. It’s no longer annual or face-to-face, but I do it as many years as I can, because it makes me happy. Hey, the silly title alone always lifts my spirit.

Please join in the event, online.  To start, let me explain the event by sharing a bit of its history. 
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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Erika
    Erika says #
    I'm grateful to have discovered my life's purpose, and to be walking the path of healer. By far the most challenging thing I've e
  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Erika, happy Thanksgiving to you. I know what you mean about about the blessing of finding your life's work. Every time I provide
  • Marylou Johnson
    Marylou Johnson says #
    I am grateful for friends who take the hassle out of Thanksgiving by inviting us over to their house each holiday. They are adop
  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Marylou, thank you for sharing about the beautiful gifts in your life, that touches my heart.
  • Rommy Driks
    Rommy Driks says #
    I am grateful for frozen blueberries, my kids getting better at navigating the tasks involved in growing up, my husband and a week

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