This is the first of four weekly audio posts I was guided to make available. It’s a five-minute guided meditation designed to awaken awareness of the beauty that’s all around you, and to help you set an intention to be grateful for your connection as a creator and partaker of that beauty.
There’s no denying that winter is coming … it’s already here. When I wake up in the morning and take that first bleary-eyed look out the window, I can see frost glittering on the roofs of neighboring houses.
I’m beginning my third winter in Michigan, and although I prefer a California “winter” (when you have to put on a sweatshirt before you go to the beach), I’m learning to appreciate the beauty of snow and ice, the crisp clean air, the silent fluttering snowflakes.
Soon after I moved to Michigan, I was complaining to one of my friends about how I missed San Francisco and wanted to go home. He gently reminded me that when I could be grateful for the place I lived, when I could see the beauty of it, then … and only then … would I be free to choose whether or not to stay here.
When I looked out my window this morning, safe in my warm house, and saw the glittering frost, I was reminded of what he said. When I’m feeling resentful, nothing is beautiful. When I’m feeling grateful and open, I’m free to see the beauty that’s all around me.
I invite you to call in tonight (646-929-2947) with your stories of gratitude … or post them below as a comment. Whether you’re struggling or are in the flow, what are you grateful for today?
In late August, a weird freak wind gust came racing down our street during a storm and tore limbs off some of the old trees that line the street I live on. Across the street from our house, the huge old tree in our neighbors front yard was cut in half, vertically, and massive branches came crashing down, blocking the street. When the city crews came and hauled everything away, they spray painted a big orange circle on what was left of that tree. Every time I looked out my window, that bright orange caught my eye, and our whole family knew the tree wouldn’t be there long.
It’s funny how, when you know something is about to be taken away, you pay much more attention to it. Our family watched the leaves change color, watched the squirrels (and the neighbor’s cat) run up and down the trunk … all the while knowing that this is the last fall we’d see those things.
This afternoon they finally came to cut down the tree. It took three men, making cuts in the trunk, checking each others work, and then finally … the tree came down into the street. It stretched from our neighbor’s house, across the road, and onto our front lawn. The crew cleared away the debris and drove away.
Now when I look out the window, there’s a new space where there wasn’t one just a few hours ago. The sky looks different … I haven’t seen it unobscured by branches since I’ve lived here.
The time we spent paying extra attention to that tree, sitting by its deathbed, in a sense, is a good metaphor for autumn itself. What half-dead habits, broken relationships, unhelpful patterns, are we holding onto because they’ve always been there? Give those things the courtesy, the respect of placing your attention on them. See them for what they are …
In this season of letting go of what no longer serves us, imagine how different your view could be if you removed the things that kept you from seeing farther, from having a clear path.
Rushing to meet a deadline on some voiceover recordings, I raced into the office, hooked up the recording equipment, looked over the script, adjusted the mic, pressed “record” … and was interrupted by the sound of chainsaws outside my window.
A couple of weeks ago, a sudden storm brought huge branches down from some of the old trees in my neighborhood, including the big oak tree outside my back gate. The city has been going around the neighborhood removing the debris, and apparently this afternoon it’s my turn.
So now that I can’t finish the recording … at least for the next few minutes … I have a choice. Do I jump up and down, curse the chainsaw-bearing men for interrupting me? Or do I see this as a chance to spend a few more minutes with the script, get a cup of tea, and relax until it’s the right time to begin this work?
Often, when I’m in a panic about getting something done on time, the Universe will throw a spanner in the works to get me to slow down. What’s the good of doing work you love if you’re too rushed to stop and feel how much you love it?
It requires being mindful of exactly who you are in this moment … not as you were in the past or hope to be in the future, or could have been if things had only gone your way.
Being aware of who you are in this precise moment, and being grateful for it … even if this particular moment is not comfortable, pleasant, or ideal … opens you up to gifts and opportunities you might not even notice otherwise.
I’m the mom of two energetic boys, and that means I do laundry. A LOT of laundry. The steps to our basement laundry room get so much use they remind me of the ancient worn stone steps in cathedrals. Just think of the generations of pilgrims making their way up and down these steps hoping to get closer to God! And just think of me, cursing and dragging my overflowing basket up and down my steps to get closer to the washer.
Anyway, I went down a few minutes ago to pull clothes out of the dryer and put in a new batch. The lint screen on my dryer has been messed up since the first day I used it. The fabric seal that runs around the bottom edge of the lint screen keeps coming out of its track, and that means lint gets stuck on the fabric seal and in the little track. Every time I empty the dryer, I curse at the lint screen, give it a halfhearted cleanup, and then shove it back in the track. And every time I do that, the dryer flashes its “check lint screen” light at me to remind me that I didn’t do a very good job. So I curse the light, too.
But today when I was in the middle of jamming the half-cleaned fabric seal back into the track, it occurred to me I had a choice. I could choose to take an extra 15 seconds to clean the seal carefully and put it back in the track. Or I could continue in my old pattern with the predictable results (cursing and flashing lights).
The patterns we hold onto are like those worn stone steps. We move in our accustomed paths from day to day, often no longer noticing what we’re doing or why. One of the steps that can help us break the cycle of fear-based thinking is to become aware that we have a choice … in any moment, no matter how small … about what our next step will be, and about what our attitude is as we take that step. Learning to be present, to be aware of what we’re doing, can lead to greater clarity … and even lint-free clothing!