On February 28th I completed a 30 Day Appreciation Challenge on Facebook. This was a wonderful practice for me that came at a very significant and auspicious time..."divinely orchestrated", as I am fond of saying. This is the second time I've done a 30 day practice of Appreciation. The first one was focused 100% on appreciating MYSELF at the end of the day and no one else. Now there's a challenge for you! This time I had the width and breadth of all of life's people, places, things and experiences to appreciate. I found both of these processes to be powerful, life-enhancing and life-changing. I became aware of how easy it is to take appreciation for granted. I found myself pondering the difference between appreciation and gratitude. Even though I missed a few days here and there for putting my appreciation into written form on the Facebook group page, I found myself in a heightened state of awareness and mindfulness about appreciation. I never missed a day of appreciating someone or something very consciously, sometimes many times over in a day, expressing it internally in my own mind/thoughts and/or sharing it in the moment with another depending upon the kind of appreciation I found myself experiencing. Likewise, I had a heightened awareness of the times I felt distanced, alienated or separate from a state of appreciation. In those moments I knew all I needed to do was LOOK for it...change my perspective...change my mind...someone or something is always there to appreciate. If nothing else, I am always there to be appreciated. Right? Right.
I smiled at the irony of the timing of this practice of appreciation and communication coming during an intense Mercury retrograde when I either have diarrhea of the mouth or the cat can often get my chatty Virgo-Mercurial tongue and leave me tongue tied or stumbling over my words and thoughts creating misunderstandings and heartbreaks rather than more understanding and heartfelt connection.
More divine timing and orchestration was afoot often leaving me in awe and wonder as I spent half of this month away from home, in upstate New York in the Catskills where I've never been before, immersed in a totally new healing adventure with very close family and holding space for that healing journey. I felt almost sequestered and we ended up snowbound by a nor'easter which gave us all 5 more days to deepen into whatever the healing adventure was gifting each of us. It was a deep, powerful, fertile time of reflection, rebirth, transformation, new growth and awarenesses for me on many levels of life. My commitment to keeping my mind focused on appreciation was a critical moment of choice every day and key for strengthening me to hold sacred space for healing, to see the glass half-full in every way, and to be open to receiving the grace, peace, trust, faith, hope, serenity and a renewed sense of inner well being that I experienced there and brought home with me. Appreciation kept my heart open. Yes. That's what appreciation does. That's what commitment does. That's what the heart does. It changes us. Forever. For the better.
Although this time was not a recitation of a single prayer or mantra and it wasn't a minimum of 40 days as we practice sadhana in kundalini yoga, this became my sacred 30 day Sadhana of Appreciation and I am forever enriched and changed because of it. I have made a personal commitment to continue this practice of appreciation for 40 days, 90 days, 180 days...and on and on and on...
My deepest appreciation goes to Linda Coussens whose creative inspiration and commitment to facilitate and hold the space for this sadhana of appreciation was my invitation and inspiration to say yes to the journey. I am forever grateful.
The excerpt that I'm choosing to share below pretty much puts it all into perspective for me. Like everything else in life, it's a dance with duality...bridging heaven and earth. Simple, yes. Easy, no.
Excerpt from my 30 Day Appreciation Challenge ~ February 22, 2014 ~
I appreciate the ebb and flow of expression, communication, energy, perspectives, connection, and creativity. I appreciate the fluctuations I feel and observe in my own state of mindfulness, emotions, or well-being as a result of this natural ebb and flow of life. I learn so much from the differences in this continuum of everyday life and living.
I appreciate the emptiness and the fullness. I appreciate the quiet and the noise. I appreciate the connection and the solitude. I appreciate the uncertainty and predictability. I appreciate the chaos and the creation that comes out of chaos. I appreciate tenderness and strength. I appreciate the knowing and the not knowing, the fog and the clarity. I appreciate wisdom and folly. I appreciate the space between all duality where the divine expression is created, birthed, and made visible.
I appreciate experiencing when I am without words to share or express my appreciation, sometimes for days, and yet so aware and present now to an ongoing experience and awareness of appreciation very deep within me. I appreciate when the words are there and they flow effortlessly. Because of this I am learning to trust the power of silence as well as shared expressions, deepen my discernment in the dance of communication and connection between self and others, and learning to trust myself, trust life, and trust Creator more.
I appreciate being reminded and experiencing that the most important connection and communication is the one between myself and Creator and that all appreciation arises from that space which rests in the heart.