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what blessings are these?

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“Why don’t you tell me what’s going on in your heart,” asked my spiritual coach as we begun our bi-weekly telephone session. Not much, all’s well, I reported, no problems. In fact, I’m not sure we have much to talk about tonight. Without a juicy problem to present, so my thinking went, what was the point of wasting her precious time. 

If all’s well, she came back, then tell me what it is you’re grateful for. What a concept, I mused; spend time to articulate what’s going well? Identify blessings and gifts? I’m much more experienced, I explained, at looking for deficiencies in myself, in others, and the world around me. There’s even a name for this psychological phenomenon, I said by way of stalling: negativity bias, whereby one pays more attention to and gives more weight to negative rather than positive experiences. [We then spent 45 minutes uncovering and celebrating the layers of my current and persistent state of happiness.]

And so I pass the question to you: what are you thankful for? What’s right and good about your life? What blessings are bestowed on you. Ask the question any way you wish. Make space to sit or lie down, to notice your breath, to follow it to your heart space, to become aware of softness and warmth. Let yourself move past the surface responses (such as “grateful to be alive”) and wave off negative thoughts trying to interfere (“not now; take a break”). Again and again, ask very simple questions about goodness, gratefulness, and blessings. Now listen … 



4 responses »

  1. ultramarathoning








    Happiness… consists in finding out precisely what the “one thing necessary” may be, in our lives, and in gladly relinquishing all the rest. For then, by a divine paradox, we find that everything else is given us together with the one thing we needed.

    Thomas Merton. (1955) No Man Is an Island. New York: Harcourt Brace.

  2. In his poem “A Psalm,” Merton writes:

    New eyes awaken.
    I send Love’s name into the world with wings
    And songs grow up around me like a jungle …

  3. ultramarathoning

    Living Psalmody…

    ps… thank you for amending and focusing the credit. I don’t know which etiquette to apply in this (blogging) context… spoken etiquette as applied in a conversation… or written etiquette with footnotes and references…

    • not to worry about such etiquette: my practice is to give as much source information as possible. i’m therefore thankful for receiving whatever you have. formatting (i use APA format) is my job.


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