Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation Classes in 2015

Hello Dear Ones,

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything on this blog. My goal for 2015 is to get it active again. Watch this space!

I wanted to let my readers know that I’ll be teaching Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation through Coronado Adult Education in 2015. The first class will run January 8-February 26, Thursdays 6-8:30pm. The second class (a repeat of the first) runs April 9-May 28 at the same day/time.

TUITION: $112 (Seniors $101)

This is a great opportunity to take this class at a reduced price (normally $250-500).

Register Here: http://adulted.coronadousd.net/registration/registration/

When you get to the Adult Education registration page, download the registration form. Use the Spring 2015 booklet to find my class, “Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation” on page 11. Fill in the details accordingly. Any questions, get in touch!

Class Description: Mindfulness is the moment-to-moment awareness invoked by tuning into your breath and every other aspect of your life through the practice of meditation, gentle mindful movement (yoga), and other meditative practices. Find out how you can make changes in the way you relate to all aspects of your life, including stress, pain, anxiety, and illness, to bring about greater balance, clarity, and life satisfaction. Please wear loose, comfortable clothing and bring a yoga mat. Also, bring a meditation cushion if you have one.

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Dance Away Dementia

I love to dance. Always have. In our family’s Super 8 home movies the camera pans around the guests at a birthday party, and then suddenly my face pops up, and I twirl and cartwheel to show off my moves. In one segment, I’ve coordinated a routine involving the lawn sprinkler, gracefully leaping through the spray. Then my little brother joins me and we run through the water from opposite directions, crossing in the middle. For a finale we leap together, holding hands.

Teaching my little brother to dance

Teaching my little brother to dance

I’ve taken ballet, tap, belly dance, hula, jitterbug, ballroom, Zumba, and a host of other dance classes. But the way I love to dance the most is with total abandon, no set rules or steps to coordinate. I’ve taken to dancing in my living room as a way to get some exercise without having to go to the pool or the gym, or lace up my hiking boots. I put my ear buds in because I like to listen to the music loud, and so as not to offend my neighbors or my bunny’s ears. I put on a playlist of my favorite grooves, and then just start moving. I dance for an hour with a little cool down and stretch afterwards.

There’s something magical about moving in a way that’s spontaneous and free. I feel euphoric after I’ve danced my hour. My body’s warm and tingling and my skin glows. My lungs expand. And I feel more creative–it’s a great exercise to do before writing or crafting or even cooking.

Out of curiosity I looked up how many calories I was burning in an hour of free-form dance. According to Harvard Health Publications, you burn about 180 calories in 30 minutes of fast dancing if you weigh 125 pounds. If you weigh 155 pounds, fast dancing for 30 minutes burns about 223 calories.

While researching calories burned, I came across a slew of statistics about how dancing can prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. Apparently, moving spontaneously helps the brain stay active, as it quickly processes decisions about movement and coordination. Just today I saw this article at NPR  which talks about how the brain processes rhythm and its role in coping with Parkinson’s Disease and other neurological diseases.

Bonus! Not only does dancing burn calories and feel great, but it can help your brain as you age! Sometimes I wonder what would happen if the UPS man showed up while I was dancing, as I usually have my doors and windows open. For a moment I fear that I might look foolish, but then I remember that I’m dancing to keep my faculties intact. And perhaps I’d just invite him to join me…

 

 

 

Learning to Fly

I thought it was interesting, after my last post about changing the energy around my home, that other creatures began taking up residence there, too. Mostly birds began to nest in the eaves and the trees around the house. It was as if they, too, felt the change in vibration, and decided it was a good place to raise a family.

A house finch even took over an abandoned nest outside my kitchen window and began sprucing it up with new twigs and bits of fluff. It made me smile, knowing we were both doing a little redecorating. When mama finch began to spend a lot of time in the nest I knew she must have laid a few eggs.

A couple weeks later I heard high-pitched peeps coming from the nest, and saw the mom coming and going with insects and worms in her beak. The babies were too small to see, but I could just make out a beak over the lip of the nest, always open in anticipation of being fed. Then I counted three beaks and began to see little feathered heads reaching upward.

Another week passed and soon the little birds were looking back at me as I watched from the window, cocking their heads this way and that, taking in their new world. They had already grown in their pin feathers. I knew it wouldn’t be long before they flew away.

One day I looked out the window and saw one of the babies perched on the edge of the nest. “Oh my god! This is it!” I thought to myself. “He’s going to make his first flight!” And then, he did.

It happened so quickly. He just dove out of the nest, into a landscape he’d never seen, and soared away over the neighbor’s roof. I still stood in the window, thinking he might come back and do it again. But he didn’t.

I stood for a long time in the window, contemplating what I’d seen. The bird didn’t sit in the nest saying, “I wish I could fly. Yeah, I’ll do that next year, when the kids are grown, when I retire, when I’m rich…” He just did it. He didn’t perch on the edge, worrying about failure. “What if I can’t do it? What if I fall?” He just did it.

Somehow, the little finch just KNEW. He was born knowing how to fly, even though he’d never experienced it. He didn’t have to take lessons. When his time came to spread his wings, he just clicked into that innate knowledge and soared.

What if we were more like the birds? We’re born knowing that we are perfect, whole, and complete, that we can do anything. Yet, somehow we get separated from that truth as we grow. We let worry and doubt and fear take over. We forget that we have wings of imagination, that we can do anything we set our minds to.

Is there a part of you that has forgotten how capable you are? Spend a few minutes in nature, observing how the birds know how to fly. See the trees, steady in their roots. Watch as flowers grow toward the light and blossom. You are a part of all that. Now, FLY!

 

Making a House a Home

“Neighbors keep you up again?” said my co-worker, noticing the dark circles under my eyes.

“Yes! Ugh! They are driving me crazy with their noise,” I replied. “I’m still thinking about moving.”

“It seems a shame for you to have to move when you haven’t even been there a year,” she said. “It’s such a cute place, so convenient and affordable. And you have that great little yard for your bunny.”

Yes, my house had a lot going for it, except for the neighbors that I’d been at war with for months. Tired of sleepless nights, and sick of waiting for my landlord to make some promised upgrades, I began looking for a new home. For months I checked the ads online, but didn’t see anything suitable in my price range. Once a possible lead came up and I went to see it, but it wasn’t nearly as nice as what I already had. I told this to my co-worker the next day.

“Well, if you like your current place so much, why don’t you just change the energy around it? You know, do some feng shui stuff, put a cactus by your neighbors.”

I knew she was right, that the energy had to change, but I failed to see how putting a cactus in the yard would change anything significantly.

Then I caught a virus and had to stay home for a couple weeks recovering. I spent a lot of time lying on the couch, looking out the window at my sweet little yard. I enjoyed the beauty of it, how the sun played across it throughout the day, and the contrast of the orange tree against the purple morning glories growing on the back fence. I also spent a lot of time staring at my four walls, and began to get ideas on how I might improve the space. “You know,” I thought to myself, “I could put a shelf there above the kitchen sink for my cookbooks. And if I consolidated these files, I could get rid of this cabinet and use that nicer one instead.” Ideas began to percolate around my head.

As soon as I felt better, I began to change the energy in and around the house. I opened all the doors, drawers, and windows and let the breeze sweep through. I lit some sage and wafted it around every room. Then I walked around the outer perimeter of the property, saying aloud, “This is my space. I claim this as my home. I am safe here. I enjoy peace and quiet and prosperity now.” I waved my hands around an invisible fence, setting my boundary between my neighbor’s house and mine.

I put up mirrors on the front door, the back gate, and one in my bedroom window, all facing outward toward my neighbors. Then I put up an actual fence, just some bamboo reed, but it created another physical boundary.

Then I had a sudden urge to start rearranging my furniture, realizing that certain pieces would work better in a different place. As I pulled the furniture out I gave everything a good spring clean, vacuuming and dusting and washing blankets and linens. I put up shelves and a rack to hang my pots and pans in the kitchen. I reorganized my closets and drawers. I bagged up old clothes and books to give away to charity. I repotted plants and brought some new herbs into the yard. I made small repairs that I’d been meaning to get to for months, and threw out junk that had been accumulating on the side of the house.

And then miraculous things began to happen.

My landlord suddenly appeared and made all the repairs and upgrades that I had been nagging him about. I discovered that another neighbor whom I’d never met was also a rabbit lover, and was delighted to find a bag of carrots by my door one day. And to my utter astonishment, the neighbors who had given me such grief suddenly moved out. My attempts to shift the energy had worked better than I ever imagined.

This new energy extended into other parts of my life. After months of uncertainty about which new career path to take, I suddenly felt clear about the direction to go. New friends appeared. Income flowed in easily. I even had a party, something I hadn’t felt like doing since I moved into this space.

Feng shui mirrors and a cactus in the yard are just outer tools that represent a shift in mental energy. If I hadn’t put my positive thought behind my actions, all the sage in the world wouldn’t have shifted the energy. I know it was literally changing my thoughts that helped my outer world come into alignment with what I wanted. And as my co-worker commented as we toasted glasses at my party, “And all you had to do was put a little love into it!”

Should There Be a Fee for Meditation Instruction?

Should learning to meditate be free? Should instructors be paid for sharing their expertise?

I’ve been thinking about these questions intensely since attending a recent meditation teacher training in which the answer was a resounding NO.

Without naming names, this training was offered for free by a local non-profit that has brought meditation into public schools, churches, the military, large corporations, prisons, hospitals–you name it. Although I already had formal training as a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction teacher and other forms of meditation, I wanted to learn more about best practices for working in the public sector.

But the day left me feeling very frustrated and discouraged. We were told that we were not being certified as representatives of the organization, that they did not want any volunteers, and if we wanted to teach meditation on our own, we should should still follow their provided script and not bring in any other wisdom or techniques. They reiterated again and again that we should not charge for meditation instruction, period.

I felt confused. While I feel that meditation should be made accessible to all, those sharing their skills also need to make a living. How to balance those issues?

At the lunch break I sat with a few participants and informally polled them about their reasons for attending and intentions to teach meditation. Everyone had noble aspirations, from teaching their grandchildren to meditate, to working with battered women’s shelters, to making meditation available to non-English speakers. Sharing the benefits of a meditation practice with others is a beautiful thing; with that I could not argue.

Yet I had invested $2500 in my training as an MBSR teacher, not to mention the money I had spent learning bodywork modalities, yoga teacher training, and personal enrichment, trying to make myself a well-rounded teacher. Was I wrong to want to be compensated for my hard-earned expertise and experience?

I decided to press the instructor further on his financial model. If his organization has no outside funding, there are no paid employees, he doesn’t charge for his services, and this is his full time career, how does he support himself? I asked him this pointedly in front of the group and he replied, “How do I live? I live peacefully and happily.” It was all I could do not to flip him the bird.

I felt insulted, frankly. I am serious about my meditation practice and about sharing its benefits with others. I am just as serious about paying my rent on time and wanting to secure a future for myself. Money is not a dirty word; it’s just energy. Exchanging money for instruction in meditation seems acceptable to me. I have always donated some of my time and services to underserved populations, which is my way of making them accessible to those who might not be able to afford them.

After this experience I began to wonder, should people charge for meditation instruction? I mean, what could be more simple than focusing the attention on the breath? It’s the birthright of everyone on this planet. Everyone has the tools, yet I hear from people all the time that they want help in developing the skills, and some are willing to pay for that expertise.

But not all. Twelve years after starting my massage practice, two years after my yoga teacher training, and a year after my MBSR training, I am barely getting by financially. I am in my mid-40s and have never made more than $20k per year. I’m over it! I don’t aspire to be rich and enjoy living simply, but I would like to feel secure, knowing that I can pay my bills and be planning for my old age. Mindfulness was recently on the cover of Time magazine, evidence that it has become mainstream, yet here I am.

I’m not sure what I want to do with all this. I am planning to go back to graduate school in the fall and finish my master’s degree in library and information science, hoping it might lead to a better job where I can still help people. I’m not sure what to do with this blog, or my website, whether to market my teaching or where to put my energy.

I would really like to hear from people about whether meditation instruction has value, and whether to charge a fee or not. If you are “making it” as a spiritual teacher, let me know how. Is there a model that you think works well (e.g. a corporation sponsoring meditation instruction made available for free to participants)? Teachers, students, I want to hear from everyone.

Thank you!

A Basketful of Love

I had an amazing teacher from kindergarten through second grade, Ms. Bonnie Hegg. Ms. Hegg saw me not as just another five year-old, but as a soul. She encouraged my creativity by teaching me to play the autoharp; when I cried because I was upset about littering she told me it was important that I cared about the world; when I mastered reading above my level she put me to work teaching the other kids to read. She showed us films like The Red Balloon and allowed us to do our work in beanbags instead of desks.

Ms. Bonnie Hegg

Ms. Bonnie Hegg

On Valentine’s Day our class made paper heart-shaped baskets by weaving together strips of pink and red construction paper, stapling a handle over the top. We hung the baskets on a wall, and then buzzed around filling them with our hand-made Valentines, one for every classmate.

As I was leaving class that day with my filled basket, Ms. Hegg beckoned me over. “Hey, I need you to do something for me,” she said as she reached under her desk. I thought she was going to ask me to help her with alphabetizing files, a task I loved.

Instead she handed me an identical Valentine basket, filled with the paper Valentines. “This is Timmy’s,” she said, referring to one of my classmates. “I need you to hold onto it for him.” “But why?” I asked, puzzled. “He’s not allowed to have these because of his religion,” she said, not explaining further. I didn’t understand, but I trusted Ms. Hegg and took the basket. “Your heart has room for it, Chandra,” she said.

Timothy

Timothy

When I got home I sat on my bed and emptied my own basket, spreading out all the sweet Valentines from my classmates. Then I emptied Timmy’s out. The cards were virtually identical to mine. I felt deeply troubled. What kind of God didn’t allow someone to be loved and get a Valentine? If all the kids loved Timmy as much as me, why couldn’t he be told that? I felt sad and confused, and pushed the basket under my bed so I didn’t have to explain to my mother.

But I took my assignment seriously and tried to “hold the love” in my heart for Timothy. Whenever I saw him I thought to myself, “You are loved,” and pictured all those Valentine cards.

Me in kindergarten. Mom forbade me from wearing my homemade necklace of mussel shells I collected on the beach for picture day, but Ms. Hegg said Go For It!

Me in kindergarten. Mom forbade me from wearing my homemade necklace of mussell shells for picture day, but Ms. Hegg said Go For It!

As I grew up and moved into adulthood, I never forgot this lesson. I discovered that sometimes people don’t know they are loved, and when that happens you have to hold onto it for them, safekeeping it like a paper basket under the bed, until they realize their own wholeness. I learned that, indeed, my heart did have room for all.

Is there someone you know that could use a little reminder that they are loved? A friend, a co-worker, a perfect stranger? Don’t get fancy. Draw a heart on a sheet of paper and give it to them, reminding them that they are loved. I guarantee you’ll feel love when you do it, too. Happy Valentine’s Day!

The Meditation Diet

Here we are in the third week of January. This is the time when most of us who made New Year resolutions are already slacking off. Statistics show that only eight percent of people who make New Year resolutions actually stick to them, and most people abandon them after just one week.

Weight loss is the number one resolution we make, and I was no exception. I decided to try a low carb diet to lose ten pounds, and started January 1. After three weeks of it, and not losing a single pound, I got discouraged and gave up.

My other resolution was to change not just what I was eating, but how. I’ve always been one of those people who likes to read while I eat. I like classified ads or small bite-sized information that I can read between glances at my plate. Maybe it’s a habit from living alone. Not sure. But I do know that it disconnects me from the eating experience.

I don’t have a dining table. Well, actually I do, but it doubles as my sewing table and it always seems to be covered with fabrics and notions and knits being blocked. The table used to do double duty but I’m still reeling from the time I tripped and spilled an entire plate of spaghetti marinara over my sewing machine and project. Since then I’ve moved to the worst place of all to eat: at my desk in front of the computer.

Yep, one hand on the mouse, the other holding a fork. And is if it couldn’t get any worse, while I eat I surf the internet for those bite-size nuggets of information, typically news. And what’s usually in the news? Bad stuff. Death. Destruction. Suffering. Not really what I want on my menu.

I looked over at my bunny, Gilligan, and how he eats. He’s focused. He eats one piece of cilantro at a time. He chews, he swallows, then he starts another piece. His eyes half close in contentment. When he’s full, he stops.

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When I teach my mindfulness classes, we eat a single raisin as slowly as possible, using all the senses and observing what happens when we slow down and focus on the task at hand. Eating becomes a meditation in itself.
Evidence is emerging that the best approach for long term, healthy weight management is mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation reduces stress, bridges the mind-body split that is at the root of most disordered eating, and puts you in touch with your natural hunger and satiety cues. It also frees you from the influence of emotions and thought patterns that provoke you to eat (when you are not mindful and conscious of them).
You can practice this yourself, using a single food like a raisin or a handful of nuts or an orange. Then extend it to your whole meal. Then expand it to the steps in cooking your meal, savoring it, and even cleaning up afterward. I love the idea of washing your dishes as if bathing a baby Buddha. With practice, your whole life becomes a practice of mindfulness.
Here are a few tips to explore mindful eating:
  • Eat in a place free of distractions such as TV, computer, phone. Before the first bite, take a few deep breaths to get settled.
  • Appreciate your food. Take a moment to ponder where it came from, who grew it, who transported it to your table, even your own efforts to prepare it.
  • Notice. Are you feeling impatient? Are you mentally distracted? Don’t judge yourself; just notice what’s happening as you prepare to eat.
  • Use your senses. What textures, colors, smells do you notice in the food you are about to eat? Observe.
  • As you take your first bite, keep noticing what’s happening in your mind. Are you making judgments about the food (too hot, too cold, too salty…)? Notice how easy is it for the mind to make comparisons.
  • Chew thoroughly. Savor all the textures and flavors you experience.
  • As you continue to eat, the mind will likely wander off into thoughts. When you notice this, bring your attention back to your food and the experience of eating.
  • When you feel full, stop eating and spend a few moments breathing quietly before moving on to the next task.

The Magical Laundrymat

Yesterday was laundry day, which meant a trip down to the Magical Laundrymat. Yes, that’s what it is actually called, an unassuming place with a name that always makes me laugh. Magical? Laundry? My experience there had always been absolutely mundane.

Laundry is one of my least favorite chores. I put it off as long as possible. Then I find ways to spend the least amount of time in the actual laundrymat. I put my washer load in, set a timer on my phone for 28 minutes, then go run an errand like mailing a letter at the post office, or washing the car. At minute 27 I go back in and move the clothes to the dryer, reset the timer for 32 minutes, and find something else to do. Usually I go sit in my car with a book.

Except this time I forgot my book. Doh!! I thought about walking the couple blocks home to get my book, but by the time I got back the laundry would be finished anyway. My familiar bugaboo, boredom, loomed large.

A little voice in my head went off: “Hey, Mindfulness Teacher! What if you just did nothing?” I sat down on a bench and crossed my arms, resisting the idea. I saw the timer on the dryer: 28 minutes to go. Sure seemed like a long time to do nothing.

A spiritual lesson just waiting to be discovered.

A spiritual lesson just waiting to be discovered.

I drew a few deep breaths and gazed at the dryer, the tumbler going round and round and round. Round and round and round. I felt mesmerized. The rhythm of the motor began to take over the buzz in my head. I picked out a piece of clothing, a red top, and watched it circling around and around. Then another piece caught my attention, my pink bunny-print pajamas, and I followed its circuital route with my eyes. Then a black sock took over.

Suddenly it occurred to me: this is like meditation! Thoughts flit across the tumble dryer of the mind like clothing. We latch onto these thoughts and follow them, churning them around and around. But we don’t have to.

I softened my gaze, letting the image of the dryer go blurry so it was just a wash of color like an Impressionist painting. I could still detect movement, but instead I focused on the image as a whole. Clothing coming and going, thoughts coming and going, breath coming and going. I felt peaceful.

A buzzer went off and the tumbler stopped. My laundry was done. I was surprised by how quickly the time had passed. I realized then why the place was called the Magical Laundrymat, and how little moments of inner sight can come from the most mundane of chores. I vowed to leave my book at home the next time, too.

Lost and Found

It was the day after Christmas and I was ready to take a break between massage clients. I thought I’d walk down the street and get a hot chocolate. I reached into my purse for my wallet, but the wallet wasn’t there. Huh, that’s odd, I thought to myself.

I began to retrace my steps. I’d last seen it the night before in a restaurant when I paid cash for dinner. I called the restaurant. “No, no wallet has been turned in here.” I texted the friend who had given me a ride to dinner: “Any chance my wallet is in your car?” “No, I looked under the seats and it’s not there.” I walked out to my own car and looked under my own seats. No wallet. Please let it be at home on the table where I usually put my purse, I said to myself all afternoon, an uneasy and vulnerable feeling seeping into me. I lost my appetite for the hot chocolate.

I got home and looked everywhere. Still no wallet. I then called my bank and cancelled all my accounts. When I called I said, “My wallet’s been stolen,” noticing that I couldn’t say that I’d lost it, taking responsibility for possibly making a dumb mistake somewhere. I’m usually so organized and together, I thought. This couldn’t possibly happen to me. But it had.

I knew I’d be okay. My accounts were safe, and I could get copies of all my membership cards. I could print out new photos of the bunnies. My driver’s license photo needed updating anyway. Yet I still felt uneasy. Why did this happen to me?

A friend left a loving message on my voice mail: “Remember, you are not your wallet. You are whole and complete. You cannot be separated from what is yours. The meaning of this event will become clear in time.”

Yes, I wondered, what is the meaning of this event? I reflected on how before Christmas I’d made a list of the different organizations that I wanted to tithe to, those that I felt had uplifted and supported me over the year. Yet I only made one contribution to one organization. I felt tight fisted. My spousal support payments would be ending very soon, and I still hadn’t found enough income to support myself. I couldn’t let the money flow outward, and wondered if that might be blocking the flow of money coming inward.

Another friend gave me a prayer technique that she said had worked for many others who had lost objects. “Picture the object in your mind, and say, ‘Reach!’ It will probably show up in a few days.”

I practiced the prayer. At first I kept thinking, “This seems like New Age mumbo jumbo. How is this going to help?” But then I set my doubts aside and tried to pray with faith. I began to see the image of a Dumpster in my mind’s eye. Huh. Maybe my wallet was in a bin somewhere. I kept praying, “Reach!”

Three days later I got a phone call from a stranger. “Hi, you don’t know me, but I was cleaning out my recycling bin and found your wallet at the bottom. Give me a call so we can connect.”

I burst into tears of relief and gratitude. I was so glad to see my green wallet, which I’d bought for myself during my divorce as a reminder that I could fill it with green on my own. All the cash was gone, although all those pennies I’d picked up on the street were still there. I took out the cancelled credit cards, and in the little plastic windows I inserted two reminders to myself:

PRAYER WORKS!

and

THIS IS AN ABUNDANT UNIVERSE! GIVE MORE MONEY AWAY!

I added up all my pennies, and saw that I had enough for a hot chocolate. I walked down to the cafe, grateful and willing to let the money flow.

Words Without Thoughts

I was lying on the couch last night watching Hamlet, like you do, when I heard these lines:

“Words without thoughts never to heaven go.” –Gertrude, Act 3, Scene 3

I paused the video to reflect on this. It seemed to jive with what I had heard in church that morning, which was that prayer is a thought, a belief, or a feeling arising within the mind of the one praying. Without the feeling behind it, words are just words. To make prayer effective, you’ve got to fully embody the belief behind it.

I’ve been working with some affirmations for abundance and prosperity lately. I taped a few little mantras to the refrigerator and the bathroom mirror. I noticed that some days I’d recite them mechanically, just saying the words and then mentally ticking off the task, wondering when my prosperity was going to show up. Then when nothing happened I’d fall into the old attitude of lack. I began to wonder if I really believed in what I prayed for, or if I just thought I believed.

I started an experiment and began reading the affirmations out loud with passion. I said them with zeal and used big hand gestures, like an evangelical preacher. Even if a small part of me was still doubting inside, I tried to act as if I really believed my words. Then I’d stand with my eyes closed for a few minutes, trying to feel the truth of my words, letting them soak in.

A few days after this experiment I received an invitation to teach a meditation class and two yoga classes for an adult education program, something I had been trying to attract. Naturally, I accepted.

I am learning that gratitude is the prerequisite to abundance, not the other way around. You can’t sit around in a separative funk wondering, “Where’s my abundance?” and expect it to just show up. If your attitude is always that there is never enough, then that’s what gets reflected back to you. God doesn’t hear the words without thoughts. But if you start out with a feeling of gratitude for anything, even the beauty of a sunrise, that’s a signal to the Universe that you are open and ready to receive.

I challenged myself to make a list of 100 things that I am grateful for. It started out with some basics, like having a roof over my head, food on the table, and a job. The more I wrote, the more I realized how fortunate I really am. Things like having access to clean, running water; the right to vote; paved roads; the ability to drive…things that some of my ancestors didn’t have, and many people on the planet right now don’t have. I began to notice small things, like having clean sheets, the public library, and an orange tree in my yard. Once I got going, it was easy to find things to be grateful for.

Thanksgiving is an ideal time to work with the concepts of gratitude and abundance. I invite you to also make your own list. Let the feeling of gratitude grow in your mind and crowd out any feelings of lack or want. You could even start the list by taking a deep breath, and feeling grateful just to be alive.

abundance

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