An 8-day practice of opening to the gifts of and in our lives, and of sharing the blessings of those gifts with the world.
You think this is just another day in your life?
It’s not just another day. It’s the one day that is given to you today.
It’s given to you. It’s a gift.
~ Br. David Steindl-Rast
What would life be like if we truly lived each day as if it were a gift?
Look around you. Reflect on that. Can you sense the possibilities?
We invite you to journey through this 8-day practice of opening to the gifts of and in our lives, and of sharing the blessings of those gifts with the world.
Inspired by Br. David’s timeless meditation, “A Grateful Day,” we offer these days of practice as a joyfully simple opportunity to experiment with, or remind ourselves of, orientations that open us to living each moment as a gift. As we know, each day is filled with abundant moments, and each year is robustly filled with days, so together we will embark on the co-creation of A Grateful Year!
We leave you with the inspiration for this practice: Br. David’s 5-minute meditation, A Grateful Day:
Day 1: Live as if Nothing is Promised You
We are impermanent and everything changes. Recognition of our fragility, abundance, and vulnerability (including that of this wondrous planet) can be both painful and also liberating. It frees us to not take things for granted and to come more alive; to honor and enjoy all that which will change, and to treasure that which is available to us now, such as our bodies, our relationships, fresh air, a meal, and/or a beautiful sunset.
Day 2: Look Around You, Look Inside Yourself
In the midst of the hustle and bustle of busy, modern life, it can require effort and commitment to truly notice and stay awake to the people, events, and moments in our lives. Whenever we are not alert to what’s happening in and around us, we miss the opportunity to live our lives to the fullest and to offer our best selves to the world.
Day 3: Appreciate the Ordinary as Extraordinary
Have you ever stopped and found yourself filled with wonder at the most “ordinary” things? The complexity, competence and humble service of our hands; a transcontinental flight; or the miracle of white dogwood? In A Grateful Day, Br. David draws our attention to “the incredible gifts that civilization gives to us,” — electric light and running water — aspects of our ordinary lives that, with simple reflection, are revealed as extraordinary.
Day 4: Recognize Your Privileges
Today we get to contemplate the fact that many of the “ordinary” gifts and miracles in our lives are also privileges, meaning that they might be available to us but not to everyone. For the first time in history we are among a large cohort of people who have instant access to other cultures and information from around the globe; wisdom teachings that could previously only be accessed by traversing continents, along with the education, security and leisure to pursue things beyond what we need for survival.
Day 5: Notice Beauty
We sense that beauty is so much more than simply an aesthetic that evokes pleasure. Living gratefully opens our eyes to beauty. And so let us be curious about beauty. Let us, as “the beholder,” look for and find beauty “where others have not dared to look.”
Day 6: Be Surprised
In Teaching Gratefulness, Br. David writes “Yes, it is indeed possible to teach and learn gratefulness. A good starting point is surprise. We can cultivate surprise at waking up to another day, surprise at whatever the weather happens to be that day, surprise that there is anything rather than nothing!” In cultivating a greater availability to the experience of surprise and wonder, we open the door to gratefulness, awe, and hope.
Day 7: Open Your Heart
What does it mean to open your heart? And what does it have to do with gratefulness? When we talk about opening our hearts, we are pointing to a deference to the wisdom of our hearts with the understanding that the heart has an intelligence beyond that of our minds. In cultivating open-heartedness we are expanding our capacity to be with challenging emotions, situations and people, and to do so with tenderness, compassion, love, and gratefulness.
Day 8: Share Your Blessings
When we live our lives in great-fullness and are in touch with the blessings and abundance that come from this, giving and sharing is a natural next step. But, it’s not always the step we take. It can be tempting to save and savor the “goodies” for ourselves and enjoy the richness of what delights us as private pleasure. But in sharing our blessings we participate in a virtuous cycle, and bring ourselves, others, and the world the full benefits of the good, the true, and the beautiful. Blessings need to flow and when they do, we are all richer for it.
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