In Appreciation: Mindfulness in the Face of Uncertainty

Mindfulness in the Face of Uncertainty

Uncertainty is always with us, though we are elaborately and profoundly adept at masking it under layers of practices and to-do lists to keep the uncomfortable, frightening feelings that come with uncertainty at bay. But for me, this past month shattered many of the illusions of certainty to which I was clinging. I was suddenly cast into a deep discomfort and fear of the unknown that I had never before felt so strongly or across so many aspects of my life, as well as the lives of many people whom I love.

When I first began to study mindfulness and Buddhism years ago, it was because on an impulse, I purchased the book Comfortable with Uncertainty by the American Buddhist nun Pema Chodron. I really liked the title, because I was young, insecure, and totally not comfortable with anything. Since in the immediate days after the election, I have been googling how to move to Canada, compulsively cleaning my house, and spending hours composing long, eviscerating responses to comments on Facebook that I would never actually post. I was clearly once again not comfortable with uncertainty. I pulled Chodron’s book back off the shelf for a refresher course on mindfulness when dealing with uncertainty.

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In Appreciation: 3 Ways to Practice Kindness and Teach Gratitude During the Holidays

Three Ways to Teach Gratitude in Time with the Season

With the many weekends of harvest festivals winding down and Thanksgiving right around the corner, the air is thick with the pumpkin spice aroma of, well, everything, and it is hard to miss that another season of thanks is upon us. While every day is an opportunity to be grateful, with children I find this season in particular can offer some prime opportunities to practice gratitude in unique ways. For my family, there are a few variations on familiar themes of gratitude that I have found work to teach both gratitude and interconnectedness, the latter of which helps teach how far our circles of gratitude really can reach.

This first practice is one I only recently learned (with many thanks to my mother-in-law, who introduced it to us during a recent visit). During her trip, I had finally got my Pinterest-deficient self in gear and had purchased some orange and black construction paper so the kids could make festive paper chains to string up in the house as decorations. As they worked on this project with my mother-in-law, she introduced a lovely idea that will heretofore become a ritual in our house. On each strip of cardboard, before you glue it in a ring and add it to the chain, you write something you are grateful for on it.  Read the rest of this entry »

Serving up Gratitude & Kindness for Thanksgiving

The Good Life: A Year of Thoughtful Seasons by Sarah Mattison Buhl

Growing Beyond Thankful

Expressions of gratitude often happen as a result of some small gesture of kindness… By offering our best, kindest selves, the people we encounter will find themselves profoundly grateful, though it is unlikely we will ever fully realize the power of our gestures…

This Thanksgiving, like many other families, we will travel to spend time with close family. We’ll load the van too full, then ease southward toward the Hudson River Valley to gather at my husband’s childhood home. It is lovely there. The fireplaces are inviting, the beds are generous, and the company is good. I am thankful for so much comfort and good fortune, but beyond that, I am grateful for the enduring love and generosity of this family.

On the surface, thankfulness and gratitude seem interchangeable, but the more I think about the words, the more sure I am that there is a difference between them. Thankfulness is cool, polite and controlled. Many of us celebrate Thanksgiving in the tradition of our New England founding fathers and mothers. They were Puritans. They were polite…and controlled. Gratitude is different. It is bigger. Gratitude is deep, abiding, personal, and emotional. Gratitude is lasting and humbling…

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