What are you grateful for, right now in this moment of your life? Is it easy to see? Gratefulness and being generous become part of the essential fundamentals of mindfulness practice because if we watch our minds closely, we are often preoccupied with things that are wrong and things that we would like to be different from how they are in this present moment. When we are busy complaining or worrying about things that are not quite how we would like them to be, it becomes difficult to be grateful and it then becomes equally as difficult to be generous to others.
Gratitude becomes a shift in focus to what we already have and what is serving us in ways that support our lives and our practice. When our focus is on what we already have, it is less likely that we get consumed by what we do not have. We develop a mind that realizes that what we have right now is enough. One of my teachers, the late Zen Master Seung Sahn used to say that a big part of suffering comes from the "not enough" mind. When we are grateful we can come from a place of peace and contentment. We can enter into a state of calmness as opposed to a state of being discontent which drives us to always have more. It is a difficult practice to engage especially when commercials and television shows and social media are constantly reminding us of what we do not have and what we are missing. The fear of missing out is a large part of what drives people to spend countless hours on social media.
The practice of gratitude helps us to counterbalance this. When we practice gratitude we shift from "not enough" to "there is enough" or "this is enough." When we truly realize that we have enough we can in turn be more generous to others. When we feel content and satisfied, we can more easily see when others are in need and be in a place to give more freely. Ultimately, there is a interconnectivity between the giver and the receiver. It is one way in which we help the world go around as it were.
In the meal gatha that we recite in Zen practice we say:
Now we set out our eating bowls;
may we, with all beings,
realize the emptiness of the three wheels:
giver, receiver and gift.
The emptiness of the three wheels means that we are all interconnected to each other. Sometimes we are receiving and sometimes we are giving. Sometimes we give and receive at the same time. Each moment provides the opportunity to give and receive. When we realize that this very moment contains all that we need, we are better able to provide and receive.
I will leave you with a poem by David Whyte called "Enough."
Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.
This opening to the life
we have refused
again and again
by David Whyte
We refuse often times because we are not content and we miss the opportunity to receive what is right in front of us as well as what someone needs right in front of us so that we can provide.
I have said enough.