Our bodies are a vast landscape of truth and opportunity in every single moment. We can experience injury or illness in one part of the body and wellbeing in the rest. One day we have health, the next we are sick or hurting. We may wrestle with acute or chronic illnesses, addictions, and/or the varied transitions of aging. Every day we grow older. All these experiences can be like teachers taking us through a course for which we cannot remember ever signing up – and we often feel ill-equipped to cope! Indeed the terrain of the body offers us infinite opportunities to evolve and awaken.
Grateful Living is beautifully suited to “befriending” the body, and helping us to remember that, as Jon Kabat-Zinn says, “as long as you are breathing, there is more right with your body than wrong with it.” Healing is not the same as “curing.” Grateful living brings many distinctions to the exploration of “being with” what is. And, practices can help us focus our attention on that which serves us, all that is intact, and remind us that we are alive – and that life is an unconditional gift.
Try a Sample Practice: The Body As It Is
A lot of so-called “positive psychology” can seem a bit flaky, especially if you’re the sort of person disinclined to respond well to an admonition to “look on the bright side.” But positive psychologists have published some interesting findings, and one of the more robust ones is that feeling grateful is very good for you. Now a brain-scanning study in NeuroImage brings us a little closer to understanding why these exercises have these effects…
““Happiness” is not an emotion, an inherited disposition that is awarded to a select few, or even dependent on events that happen to you in life. Rather, Murthy argues that happiness is a perspective, and that everyone can create it for themselves with four simple, free approaches: gratitude exercises, meditation, physical activity and social connectedness”…
Nov. 26, 2015 Kristi Nelson, cancer survivor and executive director of A Network for Grateful Living, speaks to Jim Skinner of “Stories with a Purpose” about her cancer journey, being mindful, and the power of grateful living.
(July, 2011) Actor Thandie Newton tells the story of finding her “otherness” — first, as a child growing up in two distinct cultures, and then as an actor playing with many different selves. A warm, wise talk for which we are grateful.
A grateful living practice for those who offer massage and other healing treatments….
(August, 2015) Jonathan Foust presents a unique method for tapping our deepest wisdom through the body — combining mindfulness meditation, focusing, and intuitive inquiry.
(The Washington Post, August 2015) “Everything has been pleasant for me. So I’m thankful. And hopeful.” With those words, and a big, toothy smile, former President Jimmy Carter, 90, ended his press conference Thursday. He looked so completely, boyishly happy that you could almost forget he’d also announced he has cancer in his brain.
(June 2015) Powerful and deeply moving music video celebrating courage, perseverance and possibilities. The video depicts several disabled people living bold, full and inspiring lives. It had a personal aspect to it, since band member Casey Harris has been blind since childhood. “We wanted to make it emotional and personal — and that’s as personal as it gets for me, Casey and the band,” stated lead singer, Sam Harris.
(New York Times, July 2015) “A few weeks ago, in the country, far from the lights of the city, I saw the entire sky “powdered with stars” (in Milton’s words); such a sky, I imagined, could be seen only on high, dry plateaus like that of Atacama in Chile… It was this celestial splendor that suddenly made me realize how little time, how little life, I had left. My sense of the heavens’ beauty, of eternity, was inseparably mixed for me with a sense of transience — and death.”
(The Atlantic, July 2015) In 1992, the neuroscientist Richard Davidson got a challenge from the Dalai Lama. By that point, he’d spent his career asking why people respond to, in his words, “life’s slings and arrows” in different ways. Why are some people more resilient than others in the face of tragedy? And is resilience something you can gain through practice?
(2010) Nick Vujicic wholeheartedly believes that there is a purpose in each of the struggles we encounter in our lives and spends much of his very active life empowering others to see their own strengths and beauty. That he was born without arms and legs adds an unassailable trustworthiness to his message.
(2012) When Christoph Niemann stumbled on a “Fresh Air” interview with Maurice Sendak, wild things started to transpire.
Scientific research proves that meditation and mindfulness both prevents and reduces the risk for stress related illnesses. The Mindfulness App has what you need to get the scientifically proven benefits for your health that meditation and mindfulness brings.
(2015) A bunch of skeletons kiss, hug, and dance in front of a crowd … to make an excellent point about love. Also, it’s not scary, we promise.
Website which explores life beyond adulthood. “What we need is a radical reinterpretation of longevity that makes elders (and their needs) central to our collective pursuit of happiness and well-being.” – Dr. Bill Thomas
(On Being, 2015) Eve Ensler has helped women all over the world tell the stories of their lives through the stories of their bodies. Her play, “The Vagina Monologues,” has become a global force in the face of violence against women and girls. But she herself also had a violent childhood. And it turns out that she, like so many Western women, was obsessed by her body and yet not inhabiting it without even knowing she wasn’t inhabiting her body — until she got cancer.
Allow your body to soften. Bring your awareness to the present moment and allow yourself to open to the possibility of greater ease…
What does grateful living have to do with death and dying? They are two sides of the same coin, one inextricably informing the other. Awareness of our mortality can heighten our ability to live into the exquisite preciousness of life, and living each moment as the gift that it is, informs our experience of the approach of life’s end.
A list of books related to aging which we’ve found inspiring, educational, truth-telling or resonant and which have left us, ultimately, feeling grateful.
(2015) Kristi Nelson produced a digital story about her journey with cancer, in conjunction with the PBS Ken Burns documentary series, Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies.
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