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Thanksgiving is a holiday here in the U.S., and it’s also a form of spiritual practice. Learning to be grateful, truly grateful, even for the most difficult and challenging parts of our lives is a powerful spiritual practice that busts up fearful and limited thinking.
In 1997, I was still new to meditation. I had been meditating only for about 11 years. I went to a Good Friday service at Agape in Los Angeles. It was a day of meditation and prayer offered in the sanctuary and people were coming and going all day. I drove over to Agape to steep myself in the Good Friday energy of healing with prayer and meditation at my spiritual community.
I took a seat in the darkened stillness of the Agape sanctuary and I turned within to meditate and connect with Spirit. A few minutes later, I could hear the slight sounds of someone coming in and sitting directly in front of me. After about 30 minutes or so, I opened my eyes to look around, have a stretch and I saw that my minister, Rev. Michael Beckwith, was the one sitting in front of me. I recognized him immediately as he had been my teacher for several years.
What I also noticed was that he was sleeping. He had his head leaned forward and the movement of his breath and his head were the clear signs of someone who was having a nap sitting up. And I rejoiced. I did an inner victory dance. I was so grateful.
I was so grateful because at that time I was finding it still so difficult to meditate and have a quiet mind. I was still falling asleep in meditation. I was still so distracted in the stillness. There was stillness in the room, but my mind was moving like the Indianapolis 500. Vroom, vroom, vroom!
I was so grateful because I believed this: If my teacher was sleeping in meditation at church, then I wasn’t so bad.
I was grateful because I felt that I wouldn’t always be at the place I was, and I was glad that I was beginning (after 10 years of meditating on and off) at the place of feeling that I couldn’t have a complete inhalation or exhalation without an intrusive thought.
I was grateful precisely because I was starting at the very bottom starting point and I knew that I wouldn’t stay there. I KNEW I would make progress. And I knew that someday I would teach meditation and I would be able to say, “When I started, I couldn’t take a breath without a thought. When I started meditating, my mind was like a barrel full of hungry monkeys.”
And I knew that when I would eventually teach meditation, and share about where I started from, people would relax and feel more comfortable because they were starting in the same place as me, and because I didn’t stay there, they might not either.
And that’s Thanksgiving without the turkey.
What if you flipped your opinion about yourself, or someone else, the way I did? Instead of feeling like a lost loser, or a failure, what if you celebrate the growth that’s unfolding and claim your spiritual destiny of awakening awareness?
Let’s keep our eye on the prize and know that wherever we are, we’re still headed in one and only one direction – awakening and enlightenment. Let’s focus on what’s unfolding rather than what has been. Let’s be thankful that we’re spiraling upward together.
Gratitude lifts our vibration and helps us to see, feel, hear, and know more clearly. That’s where we place our attention now and we’re grateful we can choose to be grateful!
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