Each morning, I post a daily inspirational quotation and nature photograph on the Devadana Sanctuary Facebook page and the one I put up recently has stayed on my mind. I thought I’d share it as this week’s practice, given the amount of contention and negative feelings and events happening in so many of our human communities around the world.
The quotation is from the work of Pierre Predervand, who writes about the powerful practice of offering blessings as an aspect of, and activity in, daily living. I include gratitude in this practice because, for me, both offering blessings and expressions of gratitude are powerfully related. Here’s the quotation from Pierre Predervand (from his book, The Gentle Art of Blessing) that I posted the other day:
“Blessing is not a healing technique, rather it is a loving impulse from the heart which surrounds a person or situation that arouses our compassion. I won’t give here a definition of blessing…but the experience of thousands of people all over the planet who have adopted this practice is that, after a while, it becomes a way of living and looking at the world. Some who practice blessing in their daily lives have reached the point where they spontaneously and above all instantaneously bless any form of suffering they encounter during the day, be it an old peasant woman carrying a load much too heavy for her (in which case blessing might lead to a concrete act of carrying her burden!), an aged prostitute trying to find one last client at 3a.m., a dictator bellowing on television, a wounded bird, a country field ravaged by a terrible thunderstorm. Everything can be a subject for blessing and has indeed become so for some who use this practice in viewing life and the world.
Every single blessing heals in that it brings peace, it acts as a balm to any suffering, and it expresses heartfelt joy in the presence of beauty, kindness or any other form of good.”
For this week’s practice in conscious living, I invite you to explore your relationship with offering blessings (and gratitude) as you move through your day. Allow yourself to become aware of any mixed feelings that may arise as you play with this practice. It can sometimes be quite challenging to offer blessings to someone you feel is “a terrible person” or to someone whose actions are the opposite of what you would do in a similar situation. Having mixed feelings is often part of a practice that invites a new behavior, or that stretches you beyond your comfort zone. Notice if it’s okay to allow mixed feelings to be part of your experience as you do this practice, making room to both disagree with a person and also to bless them anyway.
Also, explore whether it’s as easy to offer these things to yourself as it is to offer them to everything and everyone else in your world. Some people find that it’s much easier to offer blessings to others than it is to oneself. If this is true for you, give yourself some time to explore how you came to feel this way and to also explore how it is to move beyond your discomfort and to include yourself—your body, your psyche, your whole being—in a practice of offering blessings and gratitude as part of your every-day activities.
As part of this practice, take time to notice what happens in your body and in the quality of your thoughts and feelings when you offer blessings and gratitude as part of moving through the world. Notice how this practice affects your internal self-talk, as well as how it affects what you focus on as you engage the activities and interactions that make up your day.
As with all these practices, there’s no right or wrong way to do this one. Rather, it’s yet another invitation to explore how the focus of your attention, and the ways in which you engage your world, have a powerful effect on the quality of your internal experience—of yourself and of the world you inhabit.
Also, remember to bring along curiosity as your constant companion and to pat gently on the head whatever judgments arise, allowing them to move on through without your having to do anything at all about them.