Thanksgiving Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love gathering with my family, consuming large amounts of delicious food, and expressing my gratitude for the many gifts. When I was young, we always celebrated at my grandmother’s (Mimi’s) house. Our extended family would be there, generally with a few extras, whom Mimi was wrapping her wings around. It was always amazing that our table could expand to fit everyone. If you were on the far side and needed to get something, the only way was to crawl under the table. The food was incredible. I remember everyone sneaking into the kitchen trying to get a piece of turkey as my grandfather was carving it. He was constantly squawking and smacking hands.
Our table has changed over the years. We no longer need the large extenders as people have passed onto the other world or simply moved away. This year, we will be celebrating at my house. While we have changed (I am no longer the little girl acting out my part of the ballet recital! This shows the incredible love and patience of my family to watch me stand and tap my foot for several minutes before I dance-ran across the floor and did a jump, completing my part of Tchaikovsky’s “The Waltz of the Flowers”), the focus has remained the same: Family, Food, and Gratitude. Three of my favorite things!
This year I have really focused on gratitude. I’ve discovered that the more grateful that I am for the many gifts, the more I have to be grateful (“great-full”) for. It really has brought about so much change for me.
As I look around and go about my day, my eyes are constantly searching for gifts. While I don’t do this in a way of expectation, I do this with reverence. For instance, my son had an injury this spring. I went to look for Plantain to help with the infection; however, the Plantain was very elusive. I started seeing what I was walking through, it was a field of Red Clover. As I greeted her, I realized that this was the medicine that Sy needed. Red Clover is an excellent blood purifier. While I harvested some, I was completely overwhelmed with gratitude for her. This has happened to me many times (of course with other Plants). Some may say that it is a matter of being more mindful. I guess in a way it is. However, Plants are very intelligent, when we recognize that they are gifts and receive them with respect and honor; they are more willing to help and be a bigger presence in our lives.
On a more personal note, shifting my focus onto gratitude helped me (well is continuing to help me) through my grief. When my brother died, what hurt the most was that I would not see him or touch him again (not as I did when he was alive) and that he couldn’t physically be there for his son. I was very angry at all the lost chances. Then, I started remembering the times that I did share with him and the abundance of gifts that he gave me. I realized how lucky I am to have known him and shared my life with him.
Here are two techniques I feel help cultivate gratitude. Of course, you can also simply look around you and give thanks for all the gifts that surround you.
Breath of Gratitude
Sit with a Plant. If you like, you can imagine that you have roots that grow out of the bottom of your spine into the earth. Imagine that your roots intertwine with the Plant’s roots. When you breathe in, realize that your breath is a gift from the Plant. Breathe in ki’s Love. When you exhale, give your breath to the Plant. Send it with Love. Now breathe in again, this time breathe in the Love and gratitude from the Plant. Breathe out Love and gratitude for the Plant. Do this for as long as you like, preferably at least 5 minutes.
Remember we need Plants to survive. We rely on their exhale, for our oxygen. Recognize this as a gift of life. The Plants can survive without us. However, they do appreciate our exhale of carbon dioxide. We are intimately connected through our breaths.
Take some time for yourself. Sit in a quiet, peaceful place, outside is best. Spend some time breathing in and out through your Heart. You may find some resistance to this at first. That’s okay, keep trying. Our Heart is an amazing sensory organ, among other things. When we learn to breathe through our Hearts, or really acknowledge our Heart in any way, we see connections that before were invisible to us.
While I find that it is easiest to start in a quiet, peaceful environment. You can do this anywhere. I think this is a great tool for when you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation. When done within a group, I believe it helps to foster group connection or resonance.
While Heart breathing is a simple activity, it has profound effects. As I mentioned, it helps us to recognize our many connections. It allows us to tap into our natural intuitive being. It also helps us feel the world instead of think (or often ignore) the world. This is an important and necessary shift for our changing world. In The Secret Teachings of Plants, Stephen Harrod Buhner discusses what he calls “Heart-Brain Entrainment”. In essence, when we feel with our Heart, we change our physiology in a very positive manner.
To me, abundance is directly connected to gratitude. Once you start recognizing the many gifts that surround you, you start noticing the abundance of this earth. We are trained that there is a limited amount of wealth (and really almost everything), which tends to put us in competition with one another. However, if we give ourselves the ability to step back and look around, we see how fortunate we are. There may be a finite amount of money (I really don’t know); however, money is only one way of measuring wealth. The Earth by her very nature is generous. She does not like to see any bare spots. Gardeners can verify this by the amount of voluntary Plants (often called weeds) that appear. My favorite example is the Plant, often Dandelion or Plantain, who pushes through the pavement.
(Note: just because Nature is abundant, does not mean that we should be wasteful or disrespectful such as clear-cutting or harvesting to extinction. I think this is the role of gratitude. If we are great-full for Nature’s gifts, we do not want to take more than we need.)
Do you know anyone who can never seem to get ahead or to whom the sky is always falling? I often think that what they need most is a change of attitude. They tend to focus on what is wrong and what they don’t have and not on what they do. I know someone like this. She’s always struggling with money, complaining about how she’s been treated bad by the men in her life, always in some form of a crisis. (In case any of you think I’m talking about you, I’m not.) What she doesn’t notice is how fortunate she is to have beautiful children, a family who loves and supports her, that she has always had food to eat, and always had a place to live. If she would take the time to go outside, she would notice the gorgeous, breathtaking, and bizarre flowers that bloom, the trees that give us breath, the ever abundant source of energy (the Sun), the Moon who guides our dreams, and many of the million other gifts. Maybe that’s the secret, maybe being with Nature, in Nature helps us cultivate our gratitude and recognize the abundance.
There it is again, that message to spend time in Nature. That seems to be the answer to so much of what ails us.
I have been working with a new set of Essences from Delta Gardens that I feel helps me appreciate abundance, overcome my fears associated with it, and strengthen my manifesting skills. Through my training with this set, David Dalton (of Delta Gardens) reiterated that we are surrounded by abundance which each of us deserves to and can experience. However, we often send out mixed signals about what we want. Along with our requests we may send out our fears (“If I achieve this, my family will disown me”), negative beliefs (“I’m not worthy”), our past “programming” (“Money is the root of all evil.”), or other impediments. It is hard to manifest what we want when we send out these mixed signals. The good news is that when we work on these (primarily second and third chakra) issues, we not only make significant strides in our healing journey, we also are more easily able to manifest what we want. (I feel we also learn what we truly want.) So the question is how do we heal or do this work? Well, we can use many different modalities, yes, Flower Essences is one of them. What we want to focus on is ending toxic relationships; changing destructive habits (including negative self-thoughts); develop a worthiness program; and clear neglect, abuse, trauma. One of my favorite things that David taught us during this class (I took the class twice!) is developing a worthiness program. For this, you plan one pleasure per day for yourself, plan one special pleasure per week, plan one extra-special pleasure per month, and plan one extravagant pleasure per year. Sounds like fun (and very healing)! So if you feel guilty when you take time out for yourself or treat yourself to something enjoyable, remember that it is beneficial to your health and overall well-being.
Update on Nanny
I’ve heard from some of you concerning my grandmother, so I thought that I would include an update. She has been moved from a hospital to a local nursing home. She is passing therapy with flying colors. Currently, the plan is to discharge her to her own home next week! She is very happy.
After I sent out my last newsletter, I realized that I didn’t share something I thought was very important. I believe that Nanny’s shingles are a physical reaction to her grief. Nanny is a very strong woman, she never really allowed herself to dissolve in her grief. She always wanted to stay strong for the other members of our family and to make my Pop-Pop “proud” (her word). To me, her shingles were a reminder that when we do not express and heal our pain and emotions, they will fester and get louder and louder until we must take notice, often with a serious illness.
What I Love and appreciate so much about Flower Essences is that when we work with them, we are looking for the underlying pain (I’m using this as a general term, you can substitute guilt, anger, self-loathing, etc.) and its cause(s) so that we can heal and clear it from us. We recognize that the illness is a symptom, a clue to what lies beneath. If we only focus on the symptom (which is so often done in our culture), we miss the opportunity for true healing.
Please know I am thankful for you. I hope that this finds you well and I wish you a wonder-full Thanksgiving. Please remember to take some time for yourself and spend some awe-inspiring time in nature.