Antidote: Gratitude

Have you ever noticed that you’re usually in a state of wanting? Even right now, you want something. Maybe you want a glass of water. Or you want to lie down. Or you want to shift your body and sit in a different position so your back will stop hurting. Or your wants are bigger – you want to buy a house, go on a cruise, or find the love of your life and get married. It’s always something. We generally believe that if we obey our desires, keep chasing until we snare what we want, then we will finally be able to relax. But the enlightened masters have a different point of view.

I recently read a book called The Truth Is, by H.W.L. Poonja. Poonja was an Indian yogi-saint who lived from 1910 to 1997, and had an awakening as a student of Ramana Maharshi. Poonja invites us to think of a time when we really wanted something, then got it. When we got that thing, we were happy for a moment. The reason for our happiness, Poonja says, is not that we got what we wanted. The reason for our happiness is that for a moment, we were free from desire.

The Buddha said that craving is the source of suffering. When we stop craving, stop wanting, we are simply present with what is here now. What is here is enough.

But how to stop craving?

One antidote is gratitude. To acknowledge the beautiful aspects of life already surrounding us is to feel happy with things as they are. At any given moment we can find abundant gifts that are already ours. One gift is the air we breathe. Have you ever been unable to breathe – from a stuffy nose, or choking, or a fall that knocked the wind out of you? If so, you know the preciousness of breath. The brain can survive for only 4 to 6 minutes without oxygen. Every breath is a miracle that lets us live a little bit longer.

Another gift is our sense of touch. Skin is made of sensitive nerve endings that let us enjoy a cool breeze, warm water, slippery soap suds, the touch of a loved one.

I’m grateful for the yellow flowers on the table, which are miraculously fresh after 2 weeks in the vase. For my eyes noticing countless colors and shapes. For the computer that connects me to you. For an abundance of food in the kitchen. For paper. For fingers. For smiles.

What are you grateful for? What miracles are within and around you? If you’re reading this, send me your list of five things you are grateful for in this moment.


5 responses to “Antidote: Gratitude

  1. I’m grateful that:

    1. It’s summer (basically) and I can sit here in the evening with the window open.

    2. Since I got the twins hair cut a few days ago, I can again see the napes of their necks. I always forget how much I love those, in the winter when I let their hair get longer, and then am enchanted anew each spring when they are uncovered again.

    3. Well, it’s probably not very zen, but I’m grateful for sleeping children and this glass of wine.

    4. So grateful that we will be moving across the street from my dad, so we can really share in their lives before we have to move somewhere else some time else.

    5. Grateful that Rene and I can spend a day with the kids going to Target, to lunch at Rubio’s, to Cost Plus, then to the park and not bicker and totally feel like we had a fun day out together.

  2. 1. unexpected visits of silence
    2. yogurt drinks
    3. the warmth of the sun
    4. the ability to walk around
    5. the trees on my balcony

  3. 1. a skip in my step, how and I can and how that earth connection reverberates up through heel, shin, groin, tailbone, shoulder, head

    2. big laughter and that so many of my friends are still smiling more than not today

    3. that non linear yin time can be plunged into readily on vacations

    4. humpback whales breaching just outside our anchorage

    5. the love of friends evidenced in the time they are taking to plan a special day for me

    6. my tornado nephews

    7. what Shminke watercolors do on a page

    8. my art journal and how special it makes me feel

    9. my friends who keep journals too and inspire me to do so

    10. a fun loving exuberant cuddly cat and her catnip carrot

  4. I am grateful that
    1) I can feel the cool breeze on my back
    2) my dog is snoring contentedly on the kitchen floor
    3) I have someone whom I can call my son
    4) my friends support me with great cheerleading
    5) technology can provide connectedness

  5. Now

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