Practice Gratefulness

Returning after a long time to your childhood home, you may find your bedroom pretty much unchanged, though someone else may live there now. In contrast, the body in which you live is constantly changing. As you know, over a space of seven years your body replaces practically every single molecule with a new one. But did you know that every morning, the first time you open your eyes, the top layer of your vision-sensor receptors is simply scorched away, and you literally see the world with new eyes? And still more amazingly, that two million of your red blood cells die every single second; and two million new ones take their place?

It is one thing to see bones, muscles, nerves, and blood vessels depicted “out there” on your screen (go here); vividly to connect these mental images with this living body of yours is quite a different thing. It takes training; you have to shift your attention. All this million-fold dying and renewal is actually going on within you at this very moment. Just think of it: two million red blood cells — that is more than the population of some countries! Close your eyes and say a few times slowly, “Now, now, now,” aware that with every “now” this million-fold renewal is happening in your body. Now, now, now: a pure gift. Maybe it was an experience like this that made Abraham Heschel exclaim, “Just to be is a blessing; just to live is holy.” You may want to repeat your “now” a few more times, with closed eyes — not so much thinking about, but feeling the life force at work within your body.

You have been focusing your attention inward to become aware of the blessing of life bubbling up within you. But you can also expand the conscious awareness of your embodiment outwards. Where are the borders of your bodily reality? Are you imprisoned within your skin? Is not your very skin an organ of encounter and exchange? Every breeze that touches your cheek connects you with the farthest reaches of the earth’s atmosphere. A whole ocean of air has gone through your lungs, wave by wave. Portions of some storm raging now in the arctic may once have been inside you. The poet Rainer Maria Rilke mused on this and called our very breathing an “invisible poem.”

Your eyes take in stars that are unimaginably far away. And what about the food your body takes in? At every meal, what has been alive and died becomes alive again in you by nourishing your own aliveness. Eating is an act of holy communion with the Earth. Letting this sink in will take time, but you can make a start at any time. As you pause for a moment before your next meal, you can think of the cosmic connection established by eating. Promise yourself right now to do so.

Which of the marvelous functions going on in your body amazes you most? Your heart has been beating uninterruptedly since before you were born. What keeps it beating? You eat an apple; a mysterious life force made a tiny seed grow into the tree that produced this fruit. That same life force will guide your digestion, turning this apple into energy to move and think, even the very thought you’re thinking now. You drink a glass of water, and your kidneys know how to take care of the rest; the same life force guides them.

Have you ever shown yourself grateful for these everyday marvels too deep for your mind to fathom? Now is your opportunity. Write the simple sentence: “I am grateful for my… (eyes, kidneys, spine, teeth, lungs, etc.) … because…” To write this sentence down is a helpful exercise. It gives your gratefulness a body. Inspire others by leaving it in the comment box or send it to me. I will gather them and put them in a new article on my blog. Wanna be anonymous, you have my guarantee.

Love all, play to the max, achieve anything. Be Awesome!

Many thanx to

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