A Warm Winter’s Meditation on Gratitude

For many of us, the world moves along so quickly, and the endless stream of appointments, phone calls, emails, and other Things That Need To Be Done Next continually distracts us from the all important step of positive feedback. The nature of our world is such that many decisions need to be made by the unconscious levels of the mind.

Unless we create a clear, compelling image of the way we want to be and the life we want to create, that part of us may head in the wrong direction. And with so many negative messages (eg, economic woes, climate change, illness, pollution, politics), it is easy to lose our way and succumb to the toxicity of stress and depression.

Actually, there are many more positives within than negatives, and here is a way to make these known to your faithful unconscious mind – to really assume leadership in your life – by touching the positive experiences of the recent past and connecting them to the deepest level of your being. In this way you are setting your compass – and empowering the behaviors and experiences you want more of in your life.

So find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed for ten minutes and recharge!

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Ask Dr. Miller: Dealing with Stress in the World Today

What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 stress?  In this podcast I explain the difference, give examples of each and provide simple ways (affirmations) to quickly release stress and enter a relaxed state of mind, body and spirit.

This audio excerpt is from my program Stress Fitness Volume 1. Please visit my online store at ShopDrMiller.com for more information about this and my other audio programs.

Airdate: May 6, 2010

Jackie Parker is a poet and novelist who employs meditation and interactive experiences in the classes she teaches at UCLA and to professional groups. We will explore her process of “No Thinking Writing,” the necessary qualities every artist needs, and how our writing can connect us to a greater awareness and sense of ourselves. She will share the experiences that have led her to conclude that every person has a gift of some sort that is absolutely required. What we all need, Jackie explains, is Love, to know each of our lives have meaning, be appreciated and valued, and to pass on what we know to others. We need to use our machines and computers wisely, then turn them off and discover the deeper oneness.

– Listen and download the audio for this show at the end of this post

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Gratitude, the Gift that Keeps on Giving (text and video)

“If the only prayer you say in your life is, `Thank you,’ that would suffice.”

– Meister Eckhart

`Tis the season to be grateful. … It may be difficult to remember to be grateful, and that it is not just a seasonal thing, heavily corrupted by merchandising. At least, it does provide us with a teachable moment.

In these tough times, it may be difficult to remember to be grateful for what we have instead of anguishing over what we don’t have.

Try this reality check: Do you have a roof over your head? A bed to sleep in? Food in a refrigerator? Indoor plumbing? Electricity? Clean water to drink? A car? An education?
Compared to the rest of the world, you are fabulously wealthy – and lucky. See how many things you can find to be thankful for during this brief song:

Why us? Why are we so privileged to live in the most prosperous country in the world? Life’s a lot tougher in Bangladesh or Somalia.

And why we are blessed with freedom? Long before we were born, patriots fought and died for the fundamental freedoms we enjoy today. It’s not like we did anything. We just inherited the benefit of their sacrifice.

We should rejoice in gratitude for our lucky circumstances.

So why are we so busy complaining about what we don’t have, and not appreciating what we do have (unless you count jealously hoarding what you’ve got with no willingness to share as “appreciation”).

Acquiring an Attitude of Gratitude

Many of us operate on an obsessive consumerism with the philosophy that, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” What kind of game are we playing. “Greed is Good,” goes the philosophy that has infected the world since time immemorial, even before it became the motto of American business in the middle of the last century. And if you find that you seldom take the time to feel appreciation and gratefulness for things in your life, perhaps you have contracted a case of this affluenza yourself! If so you may find yourself complaining about what you don’t have, feeling envy of others who appear to have more, or jealously guarding what you have instead of sharing it.

Are you constantly on the lookout for how to get more? When will we ever learn that more is never enough?

Was it a surprise to you when, after receiving a huge helping of corporate welfare in the form of bailout funds, the robber barons whose policies had led us to the brink of disaster voted themselves million dollar bonuses? Check your DQ – your Denial Quotient.

And isn’t the health care debate that has gridlocked Congress really about power and money? Recently, Lily Tomlin reprised her Earnestine role as a heartless “service” representative on the phone. This time she blows off a patient: “We’re an insurance company. Your health care is our business, not our concern.” Watch the video here: Ernestine for CaliforniaOneCare.org

And during recent climate change summit in Copenhagen, representatives of developing countries protested that First World nations – rather than reducing their carbon footprints – seem comfortable with allowing a 2-degree rise in global temperature. Are we really that greedy that we would allow the disappearance of some island states and “certain death” for much of Africa?

Despite overwhelming evidence that we are blessed with so much, too many of us feel strangely entitled to what we have – and are markedly lacking in compassion for those who are less lucky.

Though you will not hear them from some of today’s most visible and influential Christians, the Bible contains more than 300 verses on the poor, social justice, and God’s deep concern for both. Consider:

Deut. 15:7. If there is a poor man among you, one of your brothers . . . you shall not harden your heart . . . but you shall freely open your hand to him, and generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks.

Luke 3:11. And [John the Baptist] would answer and say to them, “Let the man with two tunics share with him who has none, and let him who has food do likewise.”

How can I be grateful when I have lost so much?

A man’s home was burgled. “Are you not sad?” he was asked. “No,” he replied, “I am feeling grateful – for three reasons. The first is that, although they took a great deal, they did not take everything. Secondly, though they took my possessions, I was not harmed. Thirdly, I am most grateful that it was they who stole, and not I.” (I try to emulate the fellow in this story, and though I have not equaled his equanimity, I am getting better.)

Corporate robber barons have run amok, often legally. People have lost their life savings, their homes, their cars, their jobs – and more. We have all been the victims to one degree or another, and it may seem difficult to be grateful in the face of such personal disasters – but strangely enough, that’s when we need gratitude the most. This is when we most need the willingness to open ourselves fully to the knowledge that there are things that are more important than our own emotional reactions and collection of possessions.

In fact, many times, it takes the shock of losing what we think is important to realize what is actually important. But we will never discover that which is of greater value if we are immersed in feeling sorry for ourselves.

The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings. –Eric Hoffer

All Pervasive Gratitude

To get the most out of life, perhaps, it might be a wise move to endeavor to develop a kind of all-pervasive gratitude – a New Paradigm kind of gratefulness – one that sees an opportunity for gratitude everywhere, in every flower, in every movement, and every sound, in everything. Grateful to be. Grateful to experience love. To appreciate the incredible richness of the world with deep respect – indeed, with awe – and in appreciation of something greater than self, a sense of reverence for humanity.

And if you are fortunate enough to have people in your life that love you, then gratitude is clearly in order. As Albert Schweitzer reminded us, “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”

There is always something to be thankful for, if you take time to look for it. For example, I am sitting here thinking how nice it is that wrinkles don’t hurt!

How can I begin?

Simply start with the intention to feel gratitude. Don’t stand around waiting for it to happen, intend it! Remember, your feelings are behaviors, they belong to you, and you can choose, intentionally to guide your thoughts to focus upon those things that awaken your ability to feel grateful for your gifts.

Right now, allow yourself to be willing to actually give yourself the time to feel how wonderfully good it feels, taking a deep breath . . . Now . . . breathing in a full, rich inspiration . . . letting that breath inspire every cell of your brain . . . and every organ of your body . . . and realize that feeling gratitude is feeling love . . . and is a blessing of infinite magnitude.

Here is a brief video clip to help awaken appreciation and gratitude: From service dog to SURFice dog

Maybe at the end of our lives we can leave behind a message similar to that of Charlie Mechem, former head of Taft Broadcasting. Charlie wished that this might be put on his tombstone: “Dear God, Thanks for letting me visit. I had a wonderful time.”

So be well, enjoy this holiday season and remember that one of the very best ways to express gratitude is to give. O. Henry’s classic short story “The Gift of the Magi” reminds us this in a most profound way.  Here it is retold again in an animated short: The Gift of the Magi

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