Ending and Beginning with Gratitude

I wake up to a blanket of virgin snow wrapping up in its embrace, everything that is in sight. It is beautiful beyond words - clean and pure - untouched and new, like the year that is about to arrive...

I sit down to meditate and I light large votive candles, deeply moved by the energies of this day - a New Year's Eve, that is also a Blue Moon, and the day of an eclipse. It also signifies the end of a decade, and heralds the entrance of a new one...

I begin this day, the same way I hope to end it, with thoughts of Gratitude...

During the course of my meditation, I set my intentions to chart the course for the New Year. But I also reflect on the many things that I am grateful for. They come flooding into my soul and they are felt in the deepest recesses of my heart...

I am grateful for my community of treasured friends, for the opportunities I have been given, for the gift of practice, for the daily signs that I am given, for those who unknowingly touch and inspire my life, for the gift of words, and that of faith, that remains ever constant...

I could go on and on...

I think of an article I read in the Wall Street Journal yesterday, about a businessman who witnessed tremendous changes in his life by starting a gratitude journal. Every day, he begins by writing down three things he is grateful for. He also enlists the support of a small community of friends to check in and make sure he stays on track.

It reminded me of how this practice was popularized in the mid nineties - when Oprah took it up after reading Sarah Ban Breathnach's book, Simple Abundance. I tried to write down three things every day back then, but found it difficult and abandoned the practice. But then, I resumed it spontaneously, in my 50th year. Now, every time I sit in meditation, there is so much to be grateful for, I can only focus on a few!

The practice of Gratitude can be become a habit that can dramatically change our perspective and indeed, the course of our lives. In this season when many of us set impossible goals that we are bound to not keep, I propose setting just one - that of experiencing and expressing Gratitude on a daily basis. Begin by being grateful for just one thing - every day - and then notice how it will miraculously and exponentially multiply until you have to be selective of what you will acknowledge being grateful for!

I share with you these words from the "Go Gratitude" crew - that has sought to spread this practice of being grateful all throughout the world, with much success:

"May this New Year be one of Joy, abundance, good-will, peaceful awakenings and graceful journeys. May we have the courage to look for the blessing in every moment, and the audacity to celebrate it!

May compassion reign in our hearts and kindness ring through every word. May our waking dreams be filled with joy, creativity and passionate pursuits. May our hearts and minds be joined as One; unified within, so without.

May we remember we are all Children of the Earth: kindred spirits, brothers and sisters, members of the Great family of Love...

As we prepare to complete this wave, and this year, we invite you to join us, wherever you may be, at 11:11 AM or PM on December 31st for a silent world-wide Gratitude meditation.

Simply breathe into the heart, allowing Gratitude and appreciation to flow through you..."

I will end here with these two quotes, the first from Paramahansa Yogananda, and the second, a familiar one from Meister Eckhart that I have used over, and over again:

"Let us forget the sorrow of the past and make up with our minds not to dwell on them in the New Year. With determination and unflinching will, let us renew our lives, our good habits, and our successes. If the last year has been hopelessly bad, the new Year must be hopelessly good."

"If the only prayer you say is thank you,
it will be enough."

For more information on Go Gratitude, visit:
www.gogratitude.org

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