When you rise in the morning,

give thanks for the Light

and for this experience of Life.

Give thanks for your food

your body

your breath

and for the joy, wonder and beauty of Life.

If you see no reason to give thanks

enter into the Great Silence,

look deeply within

and there re-discover

all that prevents —

all that obstructs —

the river of gratitude, joy and wonder

from

flowing

freely.”

*— a literary adaptation of a teaching of Tecumthé" ('Tecumseh,' meaning 'Shooting Star') of the Panther clan of the Kispokotha (Kispoko) sect of the Šawanoki (Shawnee) tribe, early 19th century leader of the North American Šawanoki and inter-tribal confederacy**

It is commonly accepted (be-lieved)

that gratitude arises from a state of happiness and contentment —

but what if happiness and contentment were likewise

born from a cultivation of gratitude?

Even if we do not follow a particular spiritual tradition,

a natural progression of growth and maturity in the journey of Life,

*(which is innately, incontrovertibly spiritual in Essence)*

is the cultivation of gratitude —

regardless of socio-cultural roots, religious background, personal beliefs or ideological biases.

For it is in the practice of training our selves to mindfully re-cognize, re-member and realize (i.e. re-actualize — to embody or manifest in physicality)

our innate natural state of joy, wonder and beauty

'without'

and

'within' —

*(though in Reality there is no "without" and "within," we only call them "without" and "within," but that is a reflection for another day perhaps),*

and to give thanks for the gift of Life

in all of it’s myriad manifestations

and infinite variations —

that an increasingly progressive, perpetual, elevated inner state of happiness and contentment

begins to naturally, effortlessly and gracefully arise

from the thalassic depths of our Be-ing

and our experience of Life

becomes firmly rooted and grounded

in what the first century Hellenist Jewish philosopher, theologian, scholar and teacher, Saul of Tarsus described as:

"The Infinite Indescribable, Unfathomable Peace that transcends all rational comprehension."

But often this takes time and intentional cultivation —

particularly in seemingly turbulent, tumultuous times and seasons.

Like any farmer, crofter, or gardener knows,

planting a seed in the ground

is not the beginning of the journey to harvest —

the work begins far before the seed is ever planted —

the conditions must be right to receive the seed —

the soil must be prepared first.

And likewise, there are no shortcuts to the cultivation of gratitude

or any other spiritual virtue —

it often takes awareness, vision, openness, trust, honesty (inner veracity), courage, patience, perseverance and time

to reap the benefits.

So, if you would like to begin or perhaps re-invigorate the cultivation of gratitude,

here is a little spiritual exercise

you can easily incorporate into the natural flow of your day.

**A Simple Practice Of Gratitude**

This exercise centres around the practice of mindful eating.

The next time you sit down for a meal, give your self an extra 5 minutes, either before or after the meal, for this practice.

As when we begin anything new, the exercise will take a little longer at first, so give some extra time to really experience this without undo force, tension or constraint.

It does not matter what kind of food you have or how much.

The meal can be simple or elaborate.

It can be made at home or taken in a restaurant.

The food could have come from a garden, a shop, a farmer’s market, a local food pantry or from a kind friend or neighbour leaving a box of groceries on your doorstep.

It does not matter.

What matters is the quality of your state of present, loving awareness

and a willingness to open your heart in gratitude.

The practice can be done as you are preparing your food,

before taking a meal or even after eating a meal,

but the time often most natural and effective for many is just before a meal.

Experiment and see what works best for you.

As you sit down to a meal today, take five minutes to sit in silence and relax.

Do not just sit down and heedlessly, mindlessly begin to eat.

Stop.

Relax.

Close the eyes.

Enter into the Great Silence —

into the Power of Now.

Enter into a state of present, loving, awareness.

Bring conscious awareness to your body.

Notice the breath.

Inhale and exhale slowly, deeply and fully three times.

Breathe deep into the core of your body —

into the physical and energetic centre of your body —

by allowing your diaphragm to relax and naturally descend,

your belly to expand

and your lungs to fill with air in a calm, relaxed and natural way.

Now, activate the physical senses.

Savour the aroma of the food as it wafts around you.

Hold a plate or cup

and feel the warmth or coolness of the food

rising from the plate or cup.

Feel the saliva in your mouth begin to increase

as you anticipate the food you are about to eat.

Now look at the food in front of you —

look at it’s colours, shapes and diversity —

visualize the life and vitality in each seed, nut, grain, herb, vegetable, piece of fruit, or morsel of flesh.

Next, begin to trace back the roots of the food you are about to eat.

Where did it come from?

Who were the people who had a hand in preparing the food and who had a hand in bringing it to your table?

Starting from the plate in front of you, give thanks for this sacred, syzygetic, synchro-destinous moment which you are experiencing.

Give thanks for this incarnate experience of Life,

which in and of itself is a truly a gift,

whether we perceive it or not.

Now, in engaging the power of your imagination —

as if watching a movie in the theatre of your mind —

trace back the journey of the food as it came to you —

imagining all those who might have been involved in bringing it to you.

Imagine you, your partner or your children preparing it.

Give thanks to your self.

Give thanks to your partner and your children.

If you are eating with others, give thanks for the companionship of family, friends and the other Selves with whom you are sharing the experience of communal eating.

Give thanks to them for the companionship.

If you are eating in a restaurant, imagine the serving staff who brought the food to you. Imagine the cooking staff preparing it for you.

Imagine the restaurant owners whose vision and business savvy has provided this restaurant experience.

Give thanks for and to them.

From there, continue to trace backwards.

Imagine the cashier who helped you at the check-out counter.

Imagine the stock person, the grocer, the butcher, the baker or any other people you can think of.

Give thanks to and for them.

Continue to go back further.

Imagine the pilots, truckers and material handlers who transported the food.

Imagine the factory workers processing the food.

Imagine the workers, harvesters, farmers and ranchers raising and growing your food.

Give thanks.

Imagine the produce in the gardens and fields, the fruit on the tree, the animals in the pasture, and the fish in the lakes and oceans.

Imagine this nurturing, resilient Earth and all of her myriad manifestations —

mountains, forests, fields, pastures, oceans, lakes and rivers, clouds and rains, minerals, plants, animals and humans be-ing —

all healthy, rich, abundant and faithfully helping to produce and provide water and food

day after day,

month after month

and year after year —

for us all.

Give thanks to them and for them.

Trace back further.

Imagine the sun, moon, planets and everything in our solar system, our galaxy, and our galactic super-community,

comprised of billions upon billions of galaxies all whirling and spinning

in a perfect synchronistic, synergistic celestial dance —

all celebrating the gift of Life —

and in the very process of acting according to their own innate Nature,

generating and sustaining this experience of Life

as we know and en-joy it.

At each stage, as you trace further and further back, give thanks for the vast web of relationships that has allowed us this wondrous, synchronous moment and all of the privileges, comforts, conveniences and resources we en-joy.

Give thanks for the gift of Life.

Give thanks for all manifestations of Life —

your brothers and sisters

with whom you share this planet

and this incarnational experience of Life —

all

our

relations.

Finally, finish up your journey of the imagination

by giving thanks to That which is the very Source of All Life —

the Very Wellspring of Life —

from which all manifestations of Life arise

and inevitably return.

Now one last little tip before your food gets too cold —

it is helpful, if you can not only imagine or visualize,

but that, as you become more and more adept in your practice of this exercise,

to open your self —

to allow your self —

to *feel* gratitude arising within you.

Feel gratitude in your body.

Feel gratitude in your heart.

Feel gratitude in your mind.

Feel the sensations of gratitude permeating body, heart-mind and spirit.

Oh, it’s ok if you can not right away.

Just stick with it!

Keep practicing,

and over time,

with practice and perseverance,

you will soon begin to notice little affirmations

that something indeed is changing.

Perhaps over time,

you will even begin to notice

just how much more happy, content and grateful you are be-coming.

May your every breath be

peace

light

and

profound

gratitude.

Not two.

/|\