Overwhelming gratitude? Yes, please!

I heard once that expressing gratitude everyday would change my life (thank you Oprah) but to be honest, I was underwhelmed by the results of my gratitude journal. At that point in my life I was impatient and looking for instant gratification in pretty much everything I did. Thankfully (pardon the pun), I stuck with my gratitude practice and now I credit it for most of the happiness in my life.

During my time in Asia, I experienced many “firsts” including intense feelings of overwhelming gratitude – the kind of emotion that makes you tear up. I experienced this nearly everyday on my trip and when I came back to Canada, I vowed to do whatever I could to have that feeling as much as possible.

So, how am I doing? Not bad. Definitely room for improvement though so I starting thinking about what makes intense gratitude possible for me. Number one, it takes conscious awareness of the present moment. I’ve learned that moments to be grateful for are happening all the time, the work is really in noticing them. So that brought me back to the power of meditation. All the skills I need to experience appreciation for the present moment can be cultivated through meditation. And there’s another area I could stand to improve… my meditation practice.

So here goes. I’m making a commitment to meditate every day for 30 days, starting today, Saturday, June 1, 2013. That could be 5 minutes or 50 minutes, silently or with music, in my living room or on the bus. I’m doing this because I know that only I am responsible for creating the best possible life for myself. If you have accepted that too then join me, and we will feel grateful and proud together. meditate_20 a day

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Oh fear…take my hand, let’s go.

climbing kid 2This is what I saw when I walked into the climbing gym yesterday…a little kid scaling the wall like falling just wasn’t an option for her. I was thoroughly impressed. Then, it occurred to me that maybe fear of objectively safe things is something we learn in adulthood. Lucky us.

But wait, it’s not all bad news. One of the major benefits of being an adult is the power of choice. Why not apply that to your relationship with fear? You can choose to run away from your fear or choose to stare at it stunned…but what if you choose to become friends with your fear? Friends (ideally) accept you for what you are; they don’t try to change you. They guide you toward paths that allow you to grow and they’re loyal through it all.

At one point, the job I used to have was my dream job so leaving it was definitely scary. So scary in fact that I had to take a macro-perspective of the fear itself to get a handle on it all. That’s when I realized that I could decide that my fear wasn’t going to stop me from doing the things my heart wanted to do. Instead, I chose to use that fear as a guide. I let the presence of fear be an indicator that I was facing the potential for some important personal growth.

That shift in perspective is what makes me appreciate my fear, tuck it in my pocket and take it along with me on whatever proverbial mountain I happen to be climbing. And like any trusted friend, fear is always there for me. Of course after scaling one mountain, it takes a bigger one to bring on the fear next time. And thank god for that because otherwise, I wouldn’t know if I was evolving or not.

If you’re not convinced that you and fear can buddy up, try this mantra that I learned from Swamiji, a man who I visited at his wall-less house in a Balinese rice paddy (seriously).

“Oh fear, I’m not afraid of you. Take my hand, let’s go.”