Last week, Ruth Jewell wrote about gratitude in her post "Thank you - Prayerful Tuesday." A few days later, I stumbled across some videos of Br. David Steindl-Rast and Roshi Joan Halifax on Halifax's new YouTube channel discussing the same topic. I can't remember which ones of the twelve videos listed on this topic contain the messages I will share here, but you can listen for yourself to hear these masters of mindfulness ponder aloud the notion of gratefulness.
Br. Steindl-Rast's definition of gratefulness is acceptance of what is, and by that he means acceptance of what's happening in the present moment, even the people, situations, and events we find hard to accept. Whenever we like or dislike what's happening right now, our ego is operating. When we accept what is, the ego dissolves.
I'm taking a weekly class on meditation and cultivating compassion. One of the practices is to repeat time-honored phrases of lovingkindness (aka metta or maitri in Buddhist traditions) to oneself, such as "May I be happy. May I be free from suffering. May I know peace and joy" in meditation and throughout the day. The words can be changed, depending on your needs, but I've stuck with these basic, easy-to-remember phrases for now. We also "send" these phrases to others, known and unknown, in our lives in order to remind ourselves of our common humanity.
Although I don't necessarily feel the emotions of happiness, ease, peace, and joy when silently saying these phrases, with practice I'm now more likely to catch myself in the midst of a negative story in my mind and switch to saying these ...
Do you have control issues?
I do. In the past five years, my family has experienced a long string of stressful events—terminal illness diagnoses, deaths, breakdowns, emergencies, chemo and radiation, surgeries, and alarming revelations. Life kept falling apart. It still is.
I struggled to control the outcomes of these events because I found myself terrified by suffering and loss. Surely if I knew how to do just the right thing, I could make a situation turn out well, solve the problem, or keep people from dying. When I couldn’t, which was most of the time, I felt like I had failed: bad mother, bad daughter, bad wife. Self-loathing escalated.
Margaret Wheatley, a consultant, writer, and student of Pema Chödrön, sheds light on this idea of hating oneself because we think we fall short whe