Thanksgiving is my long-time favorite holiday. It earned that superlative for the family, the turkey, and the day off of my regularly scheduled activities. Thankfulness is part of it, but historically, that part comes after the pumpkin pie and whipped cream and right before the nap. This year is different. Giving thanks has a deeper meaning for me than it has before and it’s been a pivotal piece in helping me to see that every moment of my life is a sacred gift. (How’s that for gratitude?) It didn’t just happen. My yoga practice has made this possible, along with a special and ongoing meditation practice that I’ll share below.
I can now see that I can be grateful for every single thing in my life because none of it came from me. None of it is owed to me or is my due. It has all been given. Everything I enjoy, everything I do, every experience, my basic existence has been shared, lent, or given as a gift by someone or some power beyond my own. When I think about it now, it is so very humbling and my heart feels so big.
I’ve described the meditation below. There are lots of places that this process can take you and you’ll make it your own. It’s wonderful to practice again and again and the cumulative effect is pretty darn sweet. (see above paragraph)
Think about something in your life. When you begin, that may be too broad. I think it’s nice to think about something that you are touching or even the room that you are in. You might become aware of the floor or walls, an item of clothing, a ring on your finger, a chair, the air around you.
We’ll start with the chair I’m sitting on.
Notice how the thing feels .
It’s sturdy. The seat is firm. It’s a good height.
–Think about who made it or where it came from most recently.
This chair belonged to my mom and dad. My mom gave it to me. I remember when the seat broke out of this chair 3 years ago. My mom went online and found a seat bottom that have a bird nest design. She got the replacement seat, stained it to match and repaired the chair.
Thank you online vendor and factory people. Thank you to the people that made the little nails that hold in the seat. Thanks to the craftsperson who designed the little bird in the nest. Thank you mom.
—Where was it before that? Who was involved in that process and what happened then?
This chair probably came into our family because someone sold it at a store.
Thank you person who showed up to work on the day that someone I know needed a chair. For helping in whatever way you did. For providing this service.
—And before that
Someone made the chair. Someone with training and interest. Someone else who showed up to work (even though there are always so many other things that we might need or choose to do), and physically made this chair.
Thank you chair maker.
—And before that
Someone designed the chair and came up with something that is both sturdy and beautiful.
Thank you person, who designed this chair. Who took time to learn what a good chair needs, what materials are involved and how to make something with tools, hands, and creativity.
—And before that
The chair is made of wood. That wood came from a forest and someone cut the wood from the forest, made it into lumber so that it could become this thing that I am now using.
Thank you lumber people.
—Before that it was a tree, growing. The tree could only grow with dirt, air, water and an ecosystem that supported it.
Thank you nature and ecosystem, air, and dirt.
—Before that, the tree was a seed that had some genetic code that held all the information that allowed the tree to grow.
(There’s always a point in this meditation where people are no longer the connection and at this point, I think about Higher power. Seeds and genes and the miracle of life blows my mind and it isn’t something any person made or did and yet, there it is and here we are. I refer to the higher power in my life as God. Your meditation might take a different turn. You might see it as nature, biology, evolution. It’s a bigger order. It still totally works.)
Thank you God for this miracle of the seed that grew this tree.
So at this point, I’m usually crying because it’s all so amazing. On the rare day I’m not, I might just sit with this feeling of gratitude because it takes a while to let this stuff sink in: it’s not just the chair I’m sitting on that has come to me in it’s own amazing way, but everything. Everything I’m touching, along with the stuff I can’t actually touch but touches me, have come because of something other than myself. And I like the feeling and the reminder that I’m blessed to be touched by so much.
Happy Thanksgiving, readers. I’m so grateful for each of you.