Advertisement

Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters

G is for Gratitude: Mindfulness and the Gift of this Moment

Before Buddhist’s eat a meal they take a moment to acknowledge all the efforts by the countless beings that contributed to the possibility of this meal — the worms, farmers, pickers, truckers, grocery store clerks, even bacteria. This acknowledgement helps to inspire a sense of gratitude and overcome the pervasive tendency to take things for granted (“I have this food because I paid for it.”).

We can move through our entire life with this sense of entitlement and, with it, get caught up in focusing on what we don’t have, or what is not right. Gratitude takes nothing for granted. It’s a miracle that we can do the things that we can do. To breathe, to walk, to love. We only tend to notice when something goes wrong. These breaches wake us out of the trance of entitlement.

Advertisement

And still, that awakening can be into complaint. I’ve injured my knee, so I could complain about how I can’t do the things I usually do. Or, instead, I could reflect on all the unencumbered time that I enjoyed before the injury. I can realize it is not a right to walk but a wonderful happenstance. Once I have touched this gratitude, I can also reflect on the impermanence of this injury, and indeed, everything.

Everything is changing all of the time and in ways that I can neither predict or control. I am about the same age as Steve Job’s when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Life can change in an instant and over the long haul. Eventually my body will break down, so it behooves me to enjoy my mobility, health, and so forth while I have it. It behooves me to be grateful because gratitude helps to awaken me to what is happening in the moment. It helps to prevent me from sleepwalking through life.

Advertisement

Gratitude is an antidote to cynicism. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of negative thinking, after all, it’s how we are wired. We don’t need to practice negativity, yet, for many of us, we do need to practice positivity. Gratitude is available in any moment to move us into a positive frame. What are you grateful for? Make a list, read it often, add to it often.

For those of us with means living in the privileged developed world, there is so much to be grateful for. We don’t have to struggle to survive. We have ample food, shelter. As individuals, we consume enough resources to sustain a small developing country. We live in a warped bubble of entitlement with cars, clothes, medicines, dining out, vacations and so forth. We are so immured to material that we lose sight of how little much of the rest of the world has. The fact that we moan and complain in the midst of all this materials wealth is, perhaps, a form of psychosis. We are removed from reality; out of touch with the way things are.

Advertisement

So, if you are reading this, you are likely enjoying a high level of material wealth and privilege. This can, and perhaps should, blow your mind with gratitude. Today, I write on my MacBook Pro computer, listen to music streaming over the Internet and from my iTunes collection. After I have eaten all that I care to eat, I will take a hot shower, and select clothes from a large closetful of possibilities. I will drive my car from my secluded country home to my office where I will sit on comfortable furniture listening to my patients. I may go out to dinner afterwards or take in a movie. I do not live in a war zone; I do not suffer political oppression; I am not experiencing starvation; I am healthy, if a little gimpy; I make and spend ridiculous sums of money relative to most my planet mates living in Africa and Asia.

Advertisement

During the meditation hour that I host at my office, I will have the opportunity to reflect on my fortune. I can be grateful for my material privilege and reflect on I am using this privilege – for good, for awakening?

It’s an amazing day to be alive. What a precious opportunity. I am grateful for this day. I could generate a list of ten thousand complaints, but I choose to embrace the sun shining and the grace of this moment.

  • http://louellabryant.com Ellie

    Yes.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment karen

    Absolutely right and beautiful! I share your sentiment and actually wrote about this myself this very week! It’s essential to look at our lives through the lens of gratitude.

    Thank you Arnie!

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Craig-Villarrubia/150741681684572 Craig

    So right on! Appreciation is a state of perpetual growth in value. We are eternal abundance. Thank you for the reminder!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Rachel Grossman

    This is true to life. Give thanks daily and you will never be ill. Great blog.

Previous Posts

Be Mindful and Be Lovely
It is always a joy to discover a new poem that captures the spirt of mindful living. The late poet Galway Kinnell said, “To me, poetry is somebody standing up, so to speak, and saying, with as little concealment as possible, what it is for ...

posted 9:12:44am May. 04, 2015 | read full post »

The Awakened Introvert on the Radio
I had the pleasure, again, of being Mark Johnson's guest on WDEV for his morning call-in radio program. Mark and I connect as fellow introverts. Click here to listen to the show. We talked about the differences between introverts and ...

posted 1:34:58pm May. 02, 2015 | read full post »

Louis CK Teaches Buddhadharma
I was recently turned on to Louis CK's epistle on cell phones during an appearance with Conan O'Brian. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HbYScltf1c[/youtube] Louis CK is very funny and he captures the sense of infomania that ...

posted 8:23:15am Apr. 30, 2015 | read full post »

Love the Inside of Your Own Head and Be Free
I recently read Abigail Thomas's new book, What Comes Next and How to Like It. It's a poetic reflection on a lifelong friendship and life itself. You can read it, as I did, on the span of an airplane ride. After the death of her husband, ...

posted 3:07:12pm Apr. 28, 2015 | read full post »

Mindfulness Matures
A recent article in the Sunday Times is critical of the mindfulness movement. I read through some of the comments to the article and they ...

posted 9:22:21am Apr. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.