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Radical Gratitude is a stance, a choice, an offering, and a practice. It can be scheduled, like a meditation, or simply arise in a moment of noticing. It can arise out of the familiar, or out of the utterly unexpected. It is available to us in any circumstance. It comes from our willingness to be present to grace on a regular basis.
By grace, I mean the deeply felt/deeply known awareness of our belonging to life.
By deeply felt/deeply known, I mean that we take our awareness beyond simple mental noting, into our heart, our body, our spirit, our intention.
I like to say that we need to take it down a few chakras.
We can explore ideas and practices to do just that- expand and deepen our relationship to gratitude, and thus our sense of belonging to the world. We live right now in a culture of dissociation on so many levels, leading to an epidemic of dissatisfaction and separation. Our consumer culture, in fact our whole economic system, is dependent on that dissatisfaction which fuels our perceived need for getting stuff- more stuff, better stuff, other people's stuff. It encourages dissociation from our heart, our bodies, our creative energy, as well as the land, our food, our families, our communities, politics, and economic structures. In many ways, the major ills of our time- physical, social, political, and spiritual- are a direct result of this dissociative state.
Thus, paying attention is an act of resistance to a dissociative, dysfunctional culture. Re-inhabiting our life- our body, our heart, our creativity, our relationships, our communities, our earth, our cosmos- is done easily and joyfully through the practice of gratitude.
The practice of Radical Gratitude supports us as we move out into the world, for a being who is grounded in gratitude is capable of generosity, courage, and the resilience needed to be an active participant in the healing of our culture and our planet.
PODCAST: CULTIVATING RADICAL GRATITUDE
Barbara has been an activist, therapist, facilitator, singer, and artist. She is an impassioned leader of the Great Turning and a visionary artisan of cultural evolution.
On this podcast episode, Barbara shares what to do during The Great Turning. In these times of injustice, ecological crisis, and cultural dissociation, we talk about the tools to help us re-connect- to our hearts, our creative capacities, our communities, and our planet. Barbara explains what it means to live in a culture of disassociation and how we can all be empowered by radical gratitude.
Radical Gratitude has the following qualities…
Emergent - Gratitude arises in proportion to our openness to the moment. When we develop the capacity to pay attention what’s happening in our lives in the present moment, we are present to all the beauty of our world - birdsong, a glint of sunlight on leaves, the sweet presence of a sleeping pet. With each noticing, we can say “Yes…that…that…that...” to the beauty of the moment, the connection we feel to
the world, and to our deep sense of thanks for the gift of life. This is something that can simply occur (like when you see a beautiful flower), or something you can choose (like setting your phone alarm to sound at a particular time or interval, and letting that be a reminder to pay attention with Gratitude.
Embodied, rather than just a cognitive process.
Instead of depending on our mind to “remind” us of what we are or should be grateful for, we can deepen the experience by “taking it down a few chakras” - allowing the experience of gratitude to move into our heart, our belly, even our arms and legs. Breath, movement, and intention come
together to bring us into a state of experiencing a moment of wonder, of thanks, in a way that stays with us longer than mere thought.
Empathic - Gratitude helps us connect to other ways of seeing and feeling, and is a catalyst for generosity, kindness, compassion, and solidarity.
Expressive - sharing Gratitude deepens and expands our relationships, and can be an active offering of blessing. Additionally, gratitude can be a fuel for creative endeavors - art, music, movement, to ground, expand and share the experience with others
Ecological - Ecology is about the relationship between us and the larger world. Gratitude strengthens our sense of interconnectedness and belonging with all beings.
Enduring - the practice of gratitude supports us for the ongoing story of our life, and the life of our world. It is available no matter what circumstances surround us.
Empowering - Gratitude is a revolutionary tool to subvert the power of the consumer culture, and allows us to discern what we really have, what we really need, and who we really are. It supports a sense of sufficiency and capacity to offer ourselves in service to the world.
Some Notes on Creating and Maintaining
a Gratitude Practice
1. As you go throughout your day, notice when the experience of Gratitude is already happening.
2. Know that Gratitude is an act of mindfulness, of inhabiting the present moment. This is something that can simply occur (like when you see a beautiful flower), or something you can choose (like setting your phone alarm to sound at a particular time or interval, and letting that be a reminder to pay attention with Gratitude. Gratitude, as an act of choice, deepens and increases in frequency just in the choosing.
3. Choose a practice that uses more than your mind- writing, a gesture, speaking your gratitude, singing, petting your cat, etc. Anything that brings Gratitude into the body, deepens it.
4. Engage your imagination and creative capacities. Write a gratitude haiku, make a collage, chant, song, that is wholly YOUR version of gratitude. Gratitude expressed with your creative self, deepens it and honors your creative capacity.
5. Express your gratitude to people in your life- family, friends, the store clerk who bagged your groceries just right. Let them know. Gratitude shared is deepened in the sharing, and also is a catalyst for others to feel and share their own gratitude!
6. In times of personal or collective pain, do not turn away from that pain, but allow it to be a catalyst of gratitude for your heart’s capacity to love, to have compassion, to see how our concerns are joined with others concerns, and to act from our heart. Look for the people, ideas, images that support you in your journey. Gratitude can be a ground that will hold us, and is always available in difficult times.