A few more post-retreat thoughts, this time about gratitude.
As I prepare my home for guests for Thanksgiving, I feel overly busy, as if I have lost a sense of the groundedness I felt on retreat. I certainly know how to return to this place of centeredness, yet the ego barks its commands "To-Do" instead of Be.
And sometimes we just need to put the ego in its place by saying, 'I hear you, but I'm choosing not to listen to you.' I believe there is a difference between hearing and listening. We can "hear" the ego but "listen" to the calling of the soul instead, especially when it invites us to centeredness.
One of the practices that is the most grounding for me is to connect with Mother Nature. I took a few hundred photographs while on retreat because I knew this moment would come—a pivotal time when I'd feel as if I'd lost my sacred footing and would need to re-immerse myself in the spectacular beauty of the Meditation Gardens where I spent so much time in silence. Nature, to me, provides a direct experience of communion with the Divine; with the Cosmic Creative Soul that molded and shaped such splendor. I believe in "Intelligent Design." Reviewing the photos I took there restores me.
You see, when you are on retreat, your body and mind move much more slowly. You can see--really see—what's going on around you in a more light-filled way. There is wonder and a grand sense of awe. And, not surprisingly, what often arises are feelings of gratitude. I noticed this within myself when something quite different greeted my senses. The patterns in tree bark ...
the perfect symmetry of a plant ...
... the incomprehensible uniqueness of thousands of species of growing things.
The heart expands and opens.
Such grandeur! Such ingenuity!
Gratitude bursts forth like a brilliant flower.
In this moment, there is nothing lacking.
You remember, all are of the One.
Thanksgiving blessings to you my lovely friends.
May your eyes and heart see clearly so gratitude can blossom in your own life.
Photos and text © Janice Lynne Lundy, 2013. All Rights Reserved.
A few thoughts on why we want to stay present ...
... present to ourselves
... present to the world around us
... fully aware of the preciousness of this very moment.
Why do we want to strive to spend more time
in the present moment?
Because as we do, our minds stop racing.
We are at peace.
Everyday stresses are gone.
We experience a deeper connection to life,
its daily events, joys, and sorrows.
In the present moment we feel vibrantly alive.
What a blessing it is to do nothing, to just "Be."
Surrender all thoughts of past events
and future worries to Spirit
and settle into the beauty of the moment.
Delight and savor the sounds, sights, and smells
of wherever you are at this instant.
As you do so, you will sense newfound appreciation
for what it means to be a vibrantly alive human being.
Join me each month for a new issue of our online magazine, "Meditate Like a Girl." It can fully support your journey to live in the present moment so greater peace can be yours! MeditateLikeAGirl. com
My heart is filled with gratitude these days. And to log-in all this gratitude, making it a forever memory, I am recoding them in the pages of an engagement calendar.
I like this format—simple and clear. A small space, 1 1/2 inches wide by 7 inches long, one for each day, to list 5 things I am grateful for. I'm currently using the "Inner Reflections" engagement book, produced by the Self-Realization Fellowship featuring the thoughts of Paramahansa Yogananda.
Every other page features a beautiful photograph, one of which is above. Oh, so inspiring, especially if you are lover of nature like me.
My "gratitudes" range from simple things like hearing the trill of a cardinal, taking day trip with my husband and stopping for a sandwich along the way, to having a clear enough mind to think and write.
I began the practice just over a week ago and am delighting in how light-hearted I feel. Recording gratitudes is not new to me. I have done this often throughout the years when I am feeling a bit snarky or whiny; when I forget my many blessings when life gets difficult.
Gratitude itself is a virtue of the spirit and has an exceptionally high "vibration." It naturally elevates one's mood, making a shift in perspective that may be much needed. It faithfully works for me.
Sometimes we make a very big deal out of the spiritual life. We feel that we must have extraordinary, other-worldly experiences to "be spiritual" or to demonstrate our spiritual prowess. While I have been blessed to have had many of those over the years, in time, their luster fades. What lasts are the simple, modest, daily practices—like gratitude—that keep us in touch with our true self, what is most important in life, and with the Sacred as we understand it.
It's amazing how a simple "Thank you" can shift your day and how a string of them, heartfully and consistently offered, can shape your life.
If you're interested in a very special gratitude practice you can do with your family, you might enjoy my article, "The Gratitude Bowl." With spring (Easter and Passover) celebrations near, this could be a lovely addition to your meal. Enjoy and may you be doubly blessed!
is a touchpoint. a resting place, a "remembering" of who we really are and how we can best live—kindly and compassionately with ourselves and others.
Janice Lynne Lundy, DMin
is an educator, interspiritual director/guide and retreat leader who has been pointing people back toward the Sacred for more than twenty years. She is the author of several spiritual growth books, including Your Truest Self, My Deepest Me and Portable Peace., and is the co-founder and co-director of the Spiritual Guidance Training Institute.