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“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”  William Arthur Ward

We are well versed in the merits of gratitude. It alters our outlook turning obstacles into opportunities and loss into lessons. Gratitude creates a spiritual viewpoint that allows us to ride the waves of human experience with equanimity, softening the hard edges with grace. Gratitude attracts like a magnet more of what we hold in appreciation into our life.

As with any practice, the virtues are only bestowed once we embody the teachings. In order for gratitude to bless the life we are living we must first weave them into our soul. How do we ensure gratitude does not exist merely as a concept or good idea? How can we ground gratitude into our bodies so the goodness of gratitude informs our actions?

One place to begin a practice of gratitude is to bring appreciation to the body in which you dwell. Do you know anyone who would work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, without a break or vacation and never once receive a thank you for their tireless efforts? Think of all the jobs your body performs every day. Your heart has not stopped pumping since your time in the womb. Your lungs continually regulate the flow of oxygen essential to your survival. Like an ever-running steam engine, your digestive system converts what you eat into fuel, providing energy to function. The jobs required to sustain your life every day are endless. Treating your body with appreciation helps heal and restore right relationship between you and your body. Holding your body sacred helps bring the sense of sacred to everything in your life.

In the spirit of giving thanks, I offer Attitude of Gratitude, a guided meditation, to help us embody the blessings of gratitude, not merely as a concept, but as a living and breathing teaching within us. This practice awakens a sacred awareness of your body temple. It offers an opportunity to give thanks for all the service your body so willingly provides. Lie comfortably on the floor, or as close to the Earth as you can. If you are distracted by any discomfort in your body, try placing a pillow under your knees or beneath your head for support.

Take a moment to reflect on your experience during this practice. What stood out or seemed significant to you? What, if anything, changed or shifted in your awareness? Ask your body what it needs to feel nourished and supported? It may require more rest, more water or more greens. Maybe it needs more movement or fresh air. Listen to the wisdom within and wait for a response. What is one thing you can do today to demonstrate this appreciation for your body and honor its needs? What is one thing you can do today to embody the goodness of gratitude?

AHO my friends! AHO!

Karen Chrappa
Author of A Structure for Spirit
www.karenchrappa.com

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A foretelling vision from a late afternoon practice:

As I lay with my stones on belly, heart and forehead, I set the intention to jump into the waters of my life. Immediately I am swept away in a fierce current, a power over which I have no control. The fury of this current clears everything in its path. I travel with rocks and boulders, tree limbs and boughs through these raging waters. A branch overhead is my savior. I grab hold and pull myself out. “Whoa, what was that?” Stillness beckons. Time to sit along the banks of these waters.

View of my car from the seat of the tow truck

In preparation for our New Moon Despacho Ceremony, I have been sitting with the intention of releasing the victim. The weekend before ceremony coincided with Family and Friends weekend at my daughter’s college. I began the 6 hour drive north. The trip came to a grinding halt 4 hours in when my car broke down on I-81. In the middle of very unfamiliar turf, I call AAA and am towed to the nearest mechanic. This was not my intent. With a one night hotel reservation I was expecting to be home the next day. I finish the drive with a rental car and my overnight stay stretches to three, adding expenses that now include a rental car, 3 more hotel rooms plus the bill from the mechanic.

The next morning, another breakdown is in the making. My boyfriend of five years says a final goodbye over the phone as he is in New Mexico and I am in New York. This long distance relationship is new for us and the plan was for me to relocate some time next year. Not only was my heart broken, but dreams and visions for my future were broken too.

“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”
~Kahil Gibran~

When I finally hear back from the mechanic days later, the news is crushing. My car needs a new engine. Enough depressing calamities had mounted to make me feel more than a little sorry for myself. I was walking a tightrope, precariously close to falling over the edge. Below me lay a familiar abyss of poor me. Alone in a hotel room, I longed to be wrapped in a well worn cloak of misery. The  cries of the victim were desperately near. Do I fall prey?

“Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they are a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight.” ~Rumi~

The sun rises on day three of my extended visit. I am surrounded by butterflies. Through the fury of this current, my heart transmutes with such soft vulnerability I can only hold it with the most tender loving kindness. I enter a void, no sense of ground beneath my feet. I return home from the weekend without my car, without my boyfriend, dreams for my future burned to ash. Yet in the midst of these raging waters, all I can come up with is a grateful heart. A weekend guised as a family visit becomes an initiation of empowerment. Not falling prey to the powerless victim, my heart stretches wider with the grace of gratitude.

I am filled with gratitude for guardian angels who guided me safely off the highway when my car lost all power. I am grateful for my godmother who each and every year sends a AAA membership in my name. I am grateful for the delight of my dear and divine lover, for the magic and poetry that our souls have shared. I am grateful to say goodbye with a heart whole in love. I am grateful for mystical poets whose verse sing to my sentient soul.

Stillness beckons. Time to sit along the banks of these waters. Faith and patience are my beacons to restoration. My heart is ready to rest in this void, washed clean in emptiness. A newness emerges, fresh as a butterfly breaking free of its cocoon. This tender heart longs to be fed with stillness and gratitude, nourished and sustained with the nectar of loving kindness. Soul metamorphosis, the medicine of butterflies.

AHO my friends! AHO!

Karen Chrappa
Author of A Structure for Spirit
www.karenchrappa.com 

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