725th Week: Noticing Relationship and Gratitude

As I write this practice, I’m sitting in Central Park on a Sunday morning, having some quiet time to write, to soak in the sounds of birds, insects, hawks, dogs, and people.  It’s a place I come to each weekend morning when weather and schedule permit.  What comes to mind this morning is that I bring my iPad so I can write. I bring my container of coffee.  I bring the muffin I buy along the way.  I carry everything in my backpack, including my phone and earbud connections.

As I think of all these things that are part of my weekend morning routine, I also begin to think about the many people and resources that went into making this moment possible, people I will never know and yet without whom I wouldn’t have all the things with me that I want to bring along on these quiet, meditative morning journeys. And, I invite myself to be more aware of all the resources that were necessary to create and make available these elements of my morning routine.  My awareness also includes the countless people—employees and volunteers—who work in Central Park to take care of it for the rest of us who come here to enjoy the park.

The sense of relationship is with all these people, and with the non-human elements of all that is involved—metals, water, electricity, energy, life forms that we use for food, coffee beans that have been grown in a fair-trade country—with all that goes together to create and fill this particular moment in time.  As I drink the coffee, I am in relationship with everyone and everything that contributed to my having access to it.  As I bite into a piece of muffin, I am in relationship with everyone and everything that contributed to creating it, to getting it to the store, to putting it on the shelf, to creating the bag in which I carried the muffin to the park. The list of relationship in this moment could go on and on and I find myself filled with that certain kind of gratitude that arises when I take time to recognize how utterly interdependent everything is, including myself.  I am in relationship to my whole world and moments like this reinforce how completely true this is.

For this week’s practice in conscious living, I invite you to be even more attentive to the many relationships you have with the world around you, with all the things you may take for granted in your everyday life, and with aspects of your world that you might not ordinarily consider to be alive and engaged in relationship with you.  As you acknowledge all the many people and sources involved in what you have in your life and in the flow of your routine, notice what this recognition adds to your sense of gratitude as you engage your daily activities.

One of the things you may notice as you engage this practice is that recognizing and experiencing relationship automatically brings into awareness your heart perception and intelligence.  The heart brain is all about connection and relationship, so be sure to notice what arises in the quality of your internal experience as you emphasize your relationship with the world around you.  The reality is that none of us can do this life alone, that we are inescapably interdependent and related to everything in our world. Acknowledging this can have a powerful and positive impact on our everyday quality of life.

As with all these practices, remember that it helps to bring along curiosity as your constant companion because of the ways in which curiosity tends to open us to what is around us. And, it’s equally helpful to remember that judgments will inevitably arise and one of the most useful responses to them is to gently pat them on the head, allowing them to arise, move through, and move on.

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