Joanna Macy – mindfulness teacher, prolific author, activist, systems theorist and teacher – begins all of her workshops and books with gratitude. In fact, she would probably say she begins and ends with gratitude, and carries gratitude throughout.
Because we come to the spiritual path from a deep yearning for truth, for meaning, and for hope. We come to this path from our experiences of pain, and our wish to be free from it. We are compelled to do something to improve our situation – and as we seek, we learn about those solutions that lead to disappointment, and those solutions that hint at something greater than ourselves. Can you find real gratitude in your life? What are you truly thankful for? Gratitude points us toward our truest path, our ultimate meaning in this life.
Real gratitude, according to Macy, “is not dependent on external circumstances”. We all know how to start with the limited kind of gratitude – being thankful for our friends and family, for our health, for our children…but when we look closer, all of those things are temporary, and our gratitude from them is shallow.
Deeper gratitude comes from asking ourselves, “What gives me a sense of awe…that is greater than my circumstances?” Joanna Macy, author of World as Lover, World as Self, tells us that we are complete, and perfect, unto ourselves, and that is sufficient for the most profound gratitude. If we can “be happy in our skin” – we no longer need external circumstances to discover our gratitude.
We could spend the whole week deepening our connection with this deep gratitude, this gratitude that frees us and opens us to others. But for now, let us spend five minutes with Joanna Macy, and incorporate a meditation on gratitude into our retreat practices throughout the week: at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end.
You can still register for Winter Retreat 2020: Bridging the Gap February 9-15 to receive bonus material, and support to customize your retreat.