During our Gandhi Institute annual board meeting last week, we reflected on how well we embody the spirit of nonviolence in our thoughts, words and deeds. We re-committed to the idea that from our mission to educate, embody and serve, embodiment is the stand-out virtue to cultivate!
One aspect of embodiment is a continued focus on celebration and gratitude. When I was in the early days of learning Nonviolent Communication, I asked the originator of that work, Marshall Rosenberg, how he developed the capacity to become more present to his own life. He smiled and pulled out a little book from his pocket (now perhaps he would pull out a smart phone!) and showed me his gratitude log. “This is how I do it still,” he said. “whenever I have a free moment I jot down what I am grateful for.”
That practice has supported me to train my attention on the ongoing flow of gifts I can tend to take for granted: blue skies and birdsong as I type in this moment, a good night of sleep, food, help from colleagues, friends, neighbors and family that flows in all of the time. Gratitude of this kind balances tendencies I have to overwork, and to worry about the future because it invites me to awareness of what is in front of me. It helps me to stay open and curious that I don’t know what my most important act of the day will be! Maybe it will be the thing I predict (a meeting or writing something like this). Maybe it will be stopping to notice and connect with someone, especially when I notice distress, instead of just walking by.
Paul Chappell, who is visiting the Gandhi Institute later this week, added to my understanding of the importance of celebration and gratitude through his recent book Peaceful Revolution by noting that this practice also leads to increased sense of stewardship. More appreciation of my body helps me want to take better care of myself. The same is true for my relationships, and for the earth itself.
Invite friends and family to hear Paul speak in Rochester this Friday, Mar 23 7:30 pm- FREE! Donations gratefuly accepted. C-span will record this talk.