As I reflect upon my own mindful gratitude practice and gather resources to reboot my Mindful Gratitude workshop, I am continuing to explore the work of Brother David Steindl-Rast. The “Stop. Look. Go.” practice is one of the new tools I found and wanted to share. It is an informal practice that happens in the comings and goings of daily life and takes only a few minutes and some reflection. Here are the three parts:
1.) Stop. This alone is a quite valuable practice. We live in a culture that is all productivity, rush and noise. Can we take a moment and be still? What benefits might we experience if we do? In Steindl-Rast’s words, we need to create “stop signs” in our lives that create a pause and be still.
Take a moment and reflect: where might you create a stop sign in your own life? What cue will you use as a reminder?
2.) Look. Be curious about your own experience in this moment. What do you see? Hear? Feel? For what can you experience a sense of gratitude? You don’t need to manufacture anything, and if something quite difficult is happening, there is no reason to try and change it. Perhaps you just remember that you are alive. That you are breathing. That there is no moment exactly like this moment.
3.) Go. What seed for action is this moment offering you? Living is an art that you create as you go. How can you make it beautiful for yourself? For others? Ask yourself these questions and wait patiently for an answer. When you get one, do it, act on the insight that comes from your own intuition and reflection.
Need inspiration to start this practice? Here is a beautiful video from gratefulness.org’s website.
Did happened when you took a moment to stop, look, go? What did you find? Please share your thoughts below.
In reflective conversation and in the surveys I send out to participants after working with me, I find that gratitude practice is consistently the most impactful in daily life. Many months later, even people who are not doing formal mindfulness meditation are still using the Beautiful Moments practice and experiencing gratitude as a part of daily life.
I am doing a gratitude workshop with two amazing administrators on Monday who are trying to implement mindfulness practices into their whole building. We are going to explore gratitude together, and I am happy to have this opportunity to find some new resources and revisit some old ones.
While reconnecting with the work of David Steadl Rast, whose TEDTalk is below, I once again came across Gratefulness.org.
I took the opportunity to engage with the “light a candle” practice they provide through their site. I used the moment of pause to be grateful to all those people who support my work in the world and are willing to engage in the process of growing with me. Then I made this dedication:
After making a dedication, the candle burns for 48 hours, and there is a link to click and be provided with a mini-candle for your laptop during that time.
Mine is burning right now, and every time I see the flame, I am mindful of the love it represents.
For what can you be grateful today? Please leave your thoughts below.
Thought I would share some of the Smoky Mountain sweetness from my vacation in North Carolina last week. Enjoy!
Catching the rolling clouds overhead,
powerful forces of beauty
reshaping the landscape’s light and shadow
Admiring the flowing elements softly changing the earth,
inhaling the sweetness of less inhabited air
Finding a kindred soul while searching a cabin bookshelf,
reliving my pilgrimage through the written word
“Squeaky swings and tall grass
The longest shadows ever cast
The water’s warm and children swim
And we frolicked about in our summer skin”
– “Summer Skin,” Death Cab for Cutie
There is something about the summer months that change the way it feels to be human. Maybe it is the thick, humid air. Maybe its some sort pheromones from the fecund earth (if the earth has pheremones). Who knows. It’s one of those great mysteries of existence.
I do know what it feels like though. Something like this:
The dirt on my hands connects me to the earth in a new way, the sweat on my brow reminds me I am part of everything else that came from that dirt. I feel lazy for everything but laying in the grass, staring up at trees and tracing clouds in the sky. Being human feels like enough.
It’s pretty beautiful.
A few weeks ago, we set up at a camping site at Mohican State Park with a clear, cold river running twenty feet behind our tent. We built fires every night and played in the running water every day, burning to ash then washing away all of the worries built up through the busier months, leaving something else behind. Not refreshment exactly, but more like reminder. It’s still all over my skin.
This past weekend, I attended Sawyer’s best friend Sarah’s birthday party. Her parents are super-cool, fun people who turned the party into a science themed adventure complete with a balloon pit, Easter egg/scavenger hunt, and color-explosion science lab.
I snapped some photos, and gained some inspiration. (I had a request from a workshop yesterday to host a Mindful Play Learning Lab that consists of a children’s birthday party sans kids… Yes. I shall do this.)
Appreciating the rain,
Stumbling through the sky-
inverted images underfoot
Imagining the opening of the bloom,
wondering about the feelings:
timidity, curiosity, wonder, fear, courage?
There is an enchanting beauty found along the simplest paths of life. Mostly this is a metaphor, but sometimes, if you are open enough, it is literal, too.
Last Sunday on an early-morning walk so cold that our fingertips were icy-cold bits of numbness, I had to dance and skip alongside Mel to keep from becoming too chilled. Despite the cold, however, we walked for hours, and along the path we encountered some wondrous little surprises that enchanted us both.
Feeling held by candle light and love
appreciating the magic of regular moments
made particular by caring hands and connected hearts
Translating absence to deeper appreciation
attempting to express with inadequate words
the “love that let us share our name”
It’s hard to imagine a more quintessentially American expedition than taking a train out West, a.k.a. our holiday season this year. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of traveling by rail or landing in the frosty winter of Montana, here are a few images to capture the experience.
This week, my husband Jamey and I ventured in to the woods to see the world “stripped of its secret.” In this seemingly seemingly stark and monochromatic wilderness, it is easy to miss the subtle beauty of the natural world. I hope this post inspires you to keep connecting with the earth this December.
Following the winding path-away-from-the-path,
getting swept away by rippling waters,
traveling with the fallen leaves