Bringing the practice into our everyday lives being the focus of the challenge this week has got me thinking about the deep gratitude I’ve discovered this month. One of the suggestions I took to heart was the keeping of a gratitude journal. Each night I’ve sat I’ve made time to do some free writing with a positive focus on my practice. As I’ve begun to do formal Loving Kindness practice regularly the process of writing in conjunction with the meditations reminds me of all those who have supported me, my practice & my wandering along the Buddhist path.
In the end it’s the practice techniques themselves that are bridging my interior & exterior worlds via rivers of unexpected, unseen yet abundant gratitude just under the clatter of my rattling monkey mind.
Free writing it turns out was one of my first encounters with Buddhism. I was first introduced to the process through Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. The book was given to me by a friend who knew I was having a hard time after switching schools my sophomore year. Free writing became my main creative outlet in those dark maudlin days of trench coats, The Cure & Gothic 80’s Rebellion. In my Advanced Placement English classes my writing teacher helped me develop my free writing practice to work through my teenage angst, while squeezing out some moving college application essays.
Returning to the practice all these years later in many ways feels like a homecoming, though I’m seeing the world through bright eyes of gratitude. When I began the positive journal work it was a struggle at first finding things, people & situations I had genuine gratitude towards. Then I began the LovingKindness practices.
I’d done the repetition of Metta positive phrases many times over the years but it wasn’t until I had a little concentration foundation that I opened my eyes & heart honestly. Sharon’s suggestion of seeing the practice as an experiment in attention and not a ‘fake it till you make it’ thing helped me ease into things.
I am so grateful for the privilege & opportunity I have to practice. The deepest gratitude goes to my teachers & fellow challenge participants. Not sure with out the online support (and audience) I’d have been able to follow through on my daily practice commitment.