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Posts Tagged ‘seasons of grace: the life giving practice of gratitude

“The fruits of the harvest are gathered and stored. The trees shed their leaves and reveal their true forms. The days grow shorter and darker, reminding us of how brief our time on earth really is.  It’s autumn:  a season for reflecting on what it means to be truly alive, and for giving thanks for the gifts an authentic life bestows.”
Alan Jones and John O’Neil, Seasons of Grace: The Life-Giving Practice of Gratitude

Although the weather is still warm for many of us, autumn is here and requests our attention. Autumn invites us to reflect on the fruits of our harvest and make sense of a way forward. We know the fallow period of winter is not far away. I love this time of harvesting, gathering and reflecting. Around this time of year, I also find it much easier to reboot my gratitude jar practice if it has fallen off track. Keeping a gratitude jar is like rocket fuel for your creative life. Don’t know what a gratitude jar is or how to fill one up? Here’s my post on this amazing practice.

Here are some writing prompts to feed your creative impulses as you explore the gifts of fall:

-Look at the following two words—autumn and authenticity. What connections between these two words do you sense? (Authors Alan Jones and John O’Neil note that both of these words share the Latin root aut-, meaning “to increase or grow”.)
-What are you harvesting this fall?
-Write about a time when you felt bountiful.
-Write about the bounty of your writing and/or creative life as it is right now.
-Write about what you’re most grateful for.
-Write about what you feel like you should be grateful for, but aren’t.
-Write about the gifts from summer. What came to fruition? What didn’t? What are you letting go of for fall?
-When do you feel the most authentic? Alone? With others? At work? In nature?
-What are your favorite autumn flavors?
-What was a ‘back to school’ ritual that you loved as a child? What rituals do you enact during fall as an adult?

 

 

 

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Have you noticed a slight chill in the air? Have you been marveling at the changing colors of the leaves? Have you started to think about unpacking your fall sweaters?

Autumn is here and it requests our attention.  At each change of season, I turn to Seasons of Grace: The Life-Giving Practice of Gratitude by Alan Jones and John O’Neil. Seasons of Grace traces gratitude through the metaphor of the four seasons, encouraging readers to practice gratitude in new ways.  It’s a remarkable book that has taught me so much about the power of gratitude as a foundational practice.

I have found that gratitude is a creativity enhancer. The more that we can cultivate gratitude, the more we can withstand the ups and downs, the boons and dry spells of a creative life.

autumn-leaves

They begin their chapter on autumn in this way:

“The fruits of the harvest are gathered and stored. The trees shed their leaves and reveal their true forms. The days grow shorter and darker, reminding us of how brief our time on earth really is. It’s autumn:  a season for reflecting on what it means to be truly alive, and for giving thanks for the gifts an authentic life bestows.

It’s no coincidence that autumn and authenticity are linguistic cousins. Both share the Latin root aut-, meaning “to increase or grow.” Autumn brings the harvest bounty:  the earth’s increase. Authenticity brings the reward of increased self-knowledge and awareness, of a life augmented (another word cousin!) through integrity. As autumn represents the ripening of the crops, so authenticity represents the coming into maturity of our characters. The link is gratitude, which allows us to ground ourselves in humility and recognize our authentic nature. When we live gratefully, we become more truly ourselves.”

autumn09_large

Autumn presents us with an opportunity to reflect on our inner and outer harvests. Here are some writing prompts to feed your creative impulses as you explore the gifts of fall:

-Look at the following two words—autumn and authenticity. What connections between these two words do you sense?

-What’s most authentic in your creative work right now?

-When do you feel the most authentic? Alone? With others? At work? In nature?

-Write about the gifts from summer. What came to fruition? What didn’t? What are you letting go of for fall?

-What is your creative bounty?

-Finish the sentence:  If I were living more authentically, I would…

-What are the 10 things you’re grateful for right now?

-Explore the list of seasonal words and phrases below. Pick one or two words or phrases that carry the most energy for you and free write about them for 5 minutes. Then choose one or two words or phrases that carry the least energy for you and free write about them for 5 minutes.

I’d love to hear your reflections on any of these prompts!

Seasonal Words and Phrases

Inner and Outer Harvest

Fruit

Light and Shadow

Waning light

Yearning

The out breath

The in breath

Change of color

Change of form

Surrender

Yield

Journey

Marvel

Inner equinox

Wheel of seasons

Going Within

Cyclical

Spreading

Season of preparation

Fallen Leaves

Opening

Closing

Balance

Turning

Radiate

Joyful completion

Roots

Autumn Light

Abundant core

Living in gratitude

Deepening

Mellowing

Maturing

Bountiful

The harvest is stored

Labor

Lady of the Sunset

Blessing

Harvest Moon

Revision

Practice

Letting Go

Seasonal Change

Ripening into autumn

Gathering and storing

Bird migrations

Wonder and Awe

Winds of Change

 

 

 

 

“The fruits of the harvest are gathered and stored. The trees shed their leaves and reveal their true forms. The days grow shorter and darker, reminding us of how brief our time on earth really is.  It’s  autumn:  a season for reflecting on what it means to be truly alive, and for giving thanks for the gifts an authentic life bestows.”  Alan Jones and John O’Neil, Seasons of Grace: The Life-Giving Practice of Gratitude
Bountiful-Harvest-150x150

 

Yesterday was World Gratitude Day. Did you celebrate it? World Gratitude Day was officially started in 1977 by the United Nations Meditation Group. The idea for it was seeded some years before at a dinner with spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy. World Gratitude Day provides us an opportunity to express appreciation to others and reflect on what we’re grateful for in our lives. How nicely the reminder to practice and extend gratitude leads us into the marvel of the first day of fall.

Autumn requests our attention in a way that feels different than the other seasons. Autumn invites us to reflect on the nature of our harvest and make sense of a way forward. We know the fallow period of winter is not far away.

Here are some writing prompts to feed your creative impulses as you explore the gifts of fall:

-Look at the following two words—autumn and authenticity. What connections between these two words do you sense? (Authors Alan Jones and John O’Neil note that both of these words share the Latin root aut-, meaning “to increase or grow”.)

-When do you feel the most authentic? Alone? With others? At work? In nature?

-What is in your harvest?

-Write about what you’re most grateful for.

-Write about what you feel like you should be grateful for but aren’t.

-Write about a time when you felt bountiful.

-Write about the three most authentic people you know. What do they have in common?

-Write about the gifts from summer. What came to fruition? What didn’t? What are you letting go of for fall?

Creative Harvest Meditation:

Sit in a comfortable position. Rest your hands on your belly. Take several deep breaths noticing how the belly expands on the in breath and contracts on the out breath. As you settle into your body allow yourself to imagine (in your mind’s eye and through sensations in the body) a feeling of great warmth flooding through the stomach and low back. Breathe in the feeling of expansion. Let your mind’s eye experience the different colors associated with fall: blazing yellows, scarlet reds, pumpkin oranges, rusty browns and deep majestic purples.

Feel the richness of your inner landscape with each breath.

Slowly repeat the following phrases to yourself (in your mind or aloud, whatever feels right in the moment)—The harvest asks of me, the harvest intends for me, the harvest gives me…(you can also substitute ‘autumn’ for ‘harvest’).

Invite the energy that has gathered in your core to offer bodily wisdom. Repeat these phrases over a few times and then freewrite the first responses that come to mind.

 

Being able to slow down is one of the gifts of summer. Authors Alan Jones and John O’Neil of Seasons of Grace: The Life-Giving Practice of Gratitude remind us that summer can be a time of ‘sweet rest’: “Sweet rest is not a matter of zonking out. It is not a mere passivity but a kind of passionate waiting in the moment.”

Cultivating ‘sweet rest’ can lead us to a feeling of interconnectedness, a sense of the sacred. How do we get there? Artist and writer Lucy Curran offers us three practices.

 NaturalCalmWomanCalmLegs

Stop, Repeat, and Thank You

When life gets busy, it sometimes feels as if there’s no time for the sacred in the midst of everything else. However, if we rush through life without pausing now and again to ground ourselves and reconnect with our spirit in whatever way we know how, life can begin to lose its luster.

In case this sounds familiar, here are three practices that have helped me reconnect with the sacred in my life. I hope you will find them useful, too!

 

STOP

Peaceful-WomanPausing for a moment to simply breathe can be a revolutionary act of healing and empowerment. I sometimes do a quick body scan: how am I feeling in my body? Are there any places where I am holding tension or where there is discomfort or pain? Without trying to “fix” anything, I bring my awareness to each point of tension in turn, and focus on breathing into each with the intention of creating space and ease there.

REPEAT

It is tremendously powerful to have a positive phrase, vision statement, or mantra that feels sacred and inspiring, and that you can repeat to yourself at least once a day, every day. I have a “personal contract” that I repeat out loud to myself every morning, (while I wash my face!) It goes like this:

“I am loving, kind, and grateful, trusting in my heart and in life!”

I developed this contract as part of a workshop at Wings Seminars in Eugene, Oregon, and I have found it to be tremendously useful. I treat it as a sacred practice, and it serves as a reminder of the person I believe myself to be, and also the qualities that I aspire to live out in my life.

THANK YOU

bigstock-Gratitude-37954498

Developing a gratitude practice has been completely transformational for me. I simply write down a list of ten or more things that I am grateful for in my life.  Some days it takes a little longer than others (let’s face it: we all have challenging days from time to time). Eventually, though, writing out the list allows me to shift my focus onto the myriad ways in which things are going well in my life. In other words, the practice helps me remember my true priorities and allows me to focus on the positive.

Making space for the sacred in the midst of daily life is not only important: it’s imperative. Whatever your beliefs or practices, finding a way to reconnect with a sense of the sacred provides energy, healing, and fuel for a better and more impactful life lived from one’s deepest values.

Lucy Claire Curran is a freelance writer and artist living in San Francisco, California.

Website: www.lucyclairecurran.com

Twitter: @curran_lucy


Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

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