November 21, 2018
Action Letters, Gratefulness
026 Gratitude is Breath
“WOW, I am a total jerk when I don’t take time to stop and breath.”
That thought hit me like a cold bucket of water in the middle of my first chance to workout in over three weeks. I had been winding myself up into a bigger and bigger ball of anger and frustration as my resentment of deadlines, big projects, and over scheduled days grew. There was a flood of harsh words, snapped tongues, and rude moments I had allowed to flow into my day to day routine.
But, I didn’t fall into shame and guilt in that moment, because I immediately remembered all the kind people who had given me grace and patience through those moments. I felt this overwhelming gratitude; a gratitude practice I had stymied and silenced over that last three weeks. I could see all the ways others held me during my tough times – supports I had completely ignored. I had put process before people. My anger had turned into dehumanizing hatred as I stopped connecting into giving thanks.
That same week i received the gift of my conversation with Grayling Cunningham on practices of gratitude – Grayling called me back into a path of being more human again.
At this time of year, gratitude gets commodified. We treat it as an obligation we do in rushed thank you notes, or in cliches around a table. We miss the power and potency of daily commitments to gratitude that can ground us. Gratitude isn’t the after thought at the end of the meeting, or gift, or meal – it’s the breath that needs to flow through every moment of our day.
In honor of gratitude I wanted to share the full excerpt of Rob Berezny’s musing from a conversation between two of his characters in The Televisionary Oracle:
“Remember, there is a difference between grateful anger and
dehumanizing hatred,” he shouted above the din.
“What do you mean?” I yelled back.
“Grateful anger is good darkness. Dehumanizing hatred is bad darkness.”
“More clues, please.”
“Grateful anger flows when you have engaged and studied your shadow. Dehumanizing hatred flows when you have ignored and denied your shadow. One is fertile, the other hysterical.” A mathematical formula: I liked that. I assumed he meant the shadow that Carl Jung described. The unripe and unillumined corners of the soul.
He continued: “Grateful anger is when you feel thankful for the irritating people and sickening situations that have spurred you to clarity and righteous action. Dehumanizing hatred is when you are so in love with your terrible emotion that you forget what needs to be changed and turn yourself into your enemy.”