Thanksgiving morning. Sitting here in bed at 7am and feeling grateful for the incredible blessings that continue to show up in my life. I’m also sitting here feeling a bit apprehensive about what’s to come over the next few weeks.
I’m set to attend a 10-day silent Vipassana meditation retreat that starts on Wednesday. Ten days of silence. No yoga or exercise. No reading or writing. Very little food and 10 hours and 45 minutes of meditation everyday. That’s about 110 hours of meditation in under two weeks.
The schedule is intense, as is the food regimen , so I’m taking this opportunity to feel VERY grateful that my retreat begins a few days after Thanksgiving. I plan on eating way more than I should in an effort to fatten up before I drive out to the desert to waste away. The feast before the famine, so to speak.
Besides my immense gratitude for this opportunity, what I imagine to be a life-changing experience, I am also especially thankful for these 3 realizations that I’ve come to understand over this last year.
1. My mother’s incredible dedication to my development
My mother made the long trip to come and visit me for a week and we spent our time going through her old journal entries and listening to audio of me as a child. She had recorded a few of our conversations and one stood out as being very interesting.
I was 8 years old and my mother was asking me all kinds of questions and out of the blue I said something about my baby sister being “so fat and cute and she must have been born again” and basically I began telling my mother that good people who die go to heaven so they can come back and live again.
I was raised Catholic and went to Catholic schools so reincarnation was definitely not on the menu for any curriculum I would have been exposed to. My mother listened to me and began to explain that I was describing reincarnation and proceeded to give me a very intelligent and in-depth lesson in who believed in reincarnation and why.
This was cool for me on two fronts: 1) Seeing that I’ve had ideas about energy and life that were uniquely my own since I was very young. Ideas that had to have originated from somewhere outside of what my parents or school were teaching me; and 2) Seeing that my mother was open to my curiosity and did everything she could to educate and encourage me.
These audio conversations between 8 year old me and my then 31 year old mom have been such an incredible gift this Thanksgiving.
2. Learning the full art of forgiveness
Last night I enjoyed a little pre-Thanksgiving feast with an old friend. Someone I used to have an on/off relationship with over the course of many years. It wasn’t the healthiest or kindest relationship most of the time, but I always felt a connection to him that seemed like it was important for me in some way. Anyway, it had been maybe 3 years or more since we’d had any real contact and earlier this month he reached out to me to say hi and apologize for his behavior in the past.
I had been reading “A Course in Miracles” (ACIM) and was at the part where the act of forgiveness was being discussed and it felt like appropriate timing for me. When he apologized, I accepted it and told him not to let it worry him any further. It’s taught in ACIM that forgiveness is more than just saying “I forgive you” or “just letting it go” – forgiveness is actually taking the step beyond those things and doing whatever is in your power to balance the energy again.
In this case, that meant going to meet him and his new baby son for dinner without carrying anything from the past with me into the situation. We ended up having a really nice evening and it felt awesome.
Because I chose to release pride, ego, past hurt and all the other junk, I was able to reconnect with my old friend on the things that were always good between us. I felt incredibly happy holding his son and seeing parts of his dad in his little baby blue eyes. By truly forgiving and taking the final step in forgiveness to reset the balance in the energy between us, I gave myself the gift of having this relationship transform back into a positive force in my life, rather than a sad or injurious one.
3. The ability to feel from the inside and radiate out to connect with others
Through all of the yoga and meditation and self-guided study I’ve undertaken this past year or so, I’ve come to a place where I’m able to feel my way through life more. Where in the past I was living from a place mostly inside my mind and thoughts, this year has brought the blessing of being able to trust in the sensations presenting in my physical body. These sensations are the manifestation of an intelligence that is always available to me if I take the time to slow down, let go and get quiet.
Because of these new practices, I’ve witnessed my love of self flourish and my capacity for love increase. I feel more love being attracted and drawn into my everyday life and I feel so grateful for all that it’s brought to me. My close friendships are growing even closer and feeling more and more like family everyday, and the relationships with my family members feel easier and more transparent.
I’m especially grateful for the connection I’ve made with a new person in my life. Someone I met last month who I never ever ever in a thousand years would have come to know if I hadn’t been available to accept and respond to the tiny sensations in my body telling me to remain grounded, listen and finally take action to speak up and connect in a vulnerable way.
So these are my things… What about you? What are you grateful for today? What lessons can you reflect on from the past year?
Happy Thanksgiving wherever you are today on your journey
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