As you probably know by now, this month's theme is Spread Infinite Gratitude, not only because we Americans celebrate Thanksgiving later this month, but primarily because Abundance (October's focus) and Gratitude go hand-in-hand. As Eckhart Tolle so eloquently put it:
"Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance."
This month I'd like to draw the distinction between gratitude "lite" and gratitude "deep", and see if we can't all take a profound plunge over the next 30 days. Are you in? So, what do I mean by "lite"? I'm talking about the garden variety thankfulness we feel when we know we should be grateful for all the little and big things in our lives. We give ourselves a few minutes to say thanks, and then move along, perhaps not fully incorporating into our busy lives the deeper quality of gratitude that has the potential to truly shift how we perceive the world and operate within it. It's when life throws us a curve ball, as I'm sure you've experienced, like an illness, an accident, or even an unexpected gift, that we tend to experience a more profound quality of gratitude. You know what I'm talking about - the kind that rocks you to your core. Often, it is the loss - or potential loss - of something precious that gets our attention to this other level. This month I'll offer up a few simple suggestions and practices to help access that deeper state but first, a story...
There are an endless number of personal stories that I could share on this topic but I'm just going to pick one. Eleven years ago, I was living a nightmare. In January 2010, I received notice that my estranged father had become fatally ill and was brought from Florida to NYC, where his oncologist practiced. Because my three younger siblings lived at far greater distances than my 2 1/2 hour commute, I represented the family and went to see if I could help. What ensued was 9 months of drama and trauma, including an unending rotation of hospital, rehab and apartment stays for my father, the suicide of my step-mother, and ultimately, the stealing of my father's estate by my youngest sibling. These shocking, devastating events rocked my view of the world, and demonstrated to me that mental illness knows no boundaries. I spent those 9 months running back and forth between NYC and my home in Massachusetts, trying to navigate both the medical and familial worlds. Emotionally, mentally and physically, it was a great strain, and I especially worried about the impact of my absence on my two teenagers, who were each going through their own crises at the same time. By my father's passing in mid-September, I was completely empty of all my inner resources, and became concerned that I might experience illness myself as a result of all the stress, destruction, loss and heartbreak. Fortunately, I was able to sign up for two sound healing workshops with Tom Kenyon in WA in early November. I set my sights on those as my recharging opportunities. One night in October, I was finally relaxing in front of a lovely fire with my husband and a friend when the home phone rang. Upon answering, I heard a faraway, unfamiliar male voice with a heavy Indian accent saying that he had been repeatedly receiving my number in his meditations and was calling to give me a message. I'm embarrassed to say that my first thought was that this was some sort of scam, although the man had asked nothing of me. On the caller ID was a long series of numbers, which I wrote down before asking the man to please call back in 10 minutes. Looking back, I know it seems like an absurd request but I needed time to collect myself and to understand if this was for real or not. Sure enough,10 minutes later he called again and this time I had the phone on speaker so the others could hear. Over the crackly line, he repeated that he had "seen" my phone number over and over, and was compelled to call me. He then said that he knew my life had been very difficult recently and his message was that it would vastly improve very soon. And then he hung up. The three of us sat there stunned as our minds tried to make sense of what had just happened. If ever there was a moment to test our belief in the quantum, this was it! Could we fully receive and accept such a pure demonstration that we are indeed all connected in a beautiful matrix? For me, this confirmation of the all-knowing Divine produced a swell of gratitude that was down to my bones. It was humbling to face the inescapable truth that not only was my little life seen and felt on other levels, but my need for a bit of encouragement was picked up by a wonderful soul who was listening on the other side of the world, a soul who courageously took the extra step to help a stranger. I was moved, grateful and speechless. True to his prediction, the Infinity Wave arrived a few weeks later on the heels of the sound healing workshops, and my life was irrevocably altered. Of course, I've had my ups and downs like anyone else but the quality of my life improved exponentially from that point onwards. Much like the song, "When I find myself in times of trouble...," I think back to my Indian friend's miraculous message, and the deep gratitude moves through me once again. So, I'm asking you now, is there a moment in your life that brought you to your grateful knees in recognition of how precious your (or a loved one's) life is? If so, my first suggestion is revisit that touchstone moment for a few minutes every day this month and see how that quality of gratitude changes everything. I'm betting it will reshape your reality in all the best ways.
Have a beautiful week!