Gratitude: The Courage to Receive This Moment
To all Canadians, happy Thanksgiving!
The temperatures are cooler. The leaves are turning gold and crimson. Houses are warming up with fires and extra blankets. We are preparing for the deep freeze of winter. I understand that weathermen are predicting a cold one again here in North America!
Historically, Thanksgiving in Canada is traced back to Martin Frobisher’s 1578 marine voyage from England in search of the Northwest Passage, a once highly dangerous, ice-thick sea route along the Arctic Ocean connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Due to melting ice, French sportsman Charles Hedrich successfully sailed the Northwest Passage solo in September 2009.
It is fitting that this weekend I am putting the finishing touches on a grant submission for my next show, an immersive experience inspired by my trip to the North Pole to help raise awareness of the melting polar ice. With grace, it will be funded and I will share the cornucopia of creativity with you in 2015.
Thanks to our British colonialists, Canadians have learned how to say “Thank you”. We have a reputation of being easily apologetic, polite and generally “nice”. It is almost cultural to say “Thank you” many times a day as we interact with colleagues, family, friends and our daily environment. Similar to the casual way in which we say “Hello, how are you?” without really asking for a sincere response, we often say “Thank you” as a knee-jerk reaction, rather than opening our hearts to what this moment brings.
I have observed this tendency in others and myself for some time. It seems we tend to say “Thank you” in three different ways. There are those who express gratitude and project their energy out towards the person to whom they feel grateful. As though they were exhaling when they say “Thank you”, they don’t really receive the gift for which they are supposedly expressing thanks. Instead, they energetically push it back and away from them, often because at some level, they don’t feel worthy to receive. They have done the polite thing by saying “Thank you”, but not really opened to the gifts the moment brings.
I have noticed others who tend to say thanks as if they were inhaling it. With a more voracious sense of “me” than those above, they seem to feel a sense of entitlement to praise, as though there is an unspoken “of course” with the thanks. They too miss the moment.
Then there are those who do neither. In saying “Thank you”, there is presence. There is a sense that they are a witness to the moment as it is. They are both inhaling and exhaling the exchange. They are breathing with the now. In the giving, there is also receiving. Life flows in and out. The giver is the receiver and vice versa.
My default tendency is more in the first camp. I tend to be a giver by nature, and think more of what others may need, than of myself. I am evolving into the two-way flow of giving and receiving. When I was last on tour in England, I had a soulful lunch with my friend Jamie Catto. At the end of the meal, he graciously got up to pay for our food. My now-husband Rishi and I both immediately jumped up to reach for our wallets. Jamie quietly smiled and said, “It’s safe to receive. It’s safe to receive,” as he walked to the cash.
His words have stayed with me as I challenged my comfort zones since getting back from that UK tour. I have opened myself up to receive love and support from family, friends and fans in ways I have never done previously. The January Indiegogo campaign, finding the support to produce two music videos, was just the start of a year filled with much newness for me. For this new learning and resting into abundance, I give thanks. I am inspired by the new growth and the possibilities it brings. I breathe it in and out and trust the whole.
Feeling safe to receive comes from a healthy sense of self-worth, which stems from sensing our place within the whole. Sustainable self-worth is not built upon an inflated or deflated “me” that sets ourselves apart from others. It flowers as we rest into knowing that our inherent being, beyond condition, is enough. We are loved just as we are.
To receive this moment as it is, we surrender any tendency to impose ideas of how it should be. It may be easy to receive and give thanks in a pleasant moment. But when life presents us with painful challenges, as we all encounter to some extent, it can be harder to be receptive and find gratitude. I explored one such situation at length last week on this blog, and shared how I came to find gratitude after feeling hurt.
By opening to that which feels uncomfortable, as I explained last week, we come to meet our core beliefs. We find our shadows and we see our imposing projections. In seeing them, we become able to see beyond them to the true wholeness of our nature and of this moment. When we open to what is and rest in gratitude for what we find, we discover our whole self and fully live.
May you rest in the cornucopia of the now and give thanks for the delicious fullness of it all.