Thinking About – Gratitude

Thinking About – Gratitude

I’m currently reading Rupert Sheldrake’s Science and Spiritual Practices and one of things I’ll be doing more here on the blog is book and music reviews, so expect a full review in the next couple of weeks. In the mean time the book has inspired me to look at the topics it covers from a modern Druid perspective. There are seven topics covered in the book, the first being meditation, which I recently wrote about here, the next is gratitude.

It was many years ago now. I still remember taking part in one of my first interfaith conferences. The talks were interesting, and there had been some very thought-provoking theological discussions, but eventually it became time for lunch. We all queued (as is the divine-given right of all Brits) and eventually sat down together to eat. Everyone immediately tucked in to the jacket potatoes we had chosen. All except for one Christian priest. I watched him pause for just a moment or two, eyes closed, obviously saying Grace in quiet contemplation of the food he was about to receive. It touched me deeply. I looked around and everyone else, all of the Pagans, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, everyone, was all eating and chatting, oblivious to that small moment of gratitude. It was obviously done is a regular practice. It didn’t come across as holier-than-though, and at no point did he look around to see if anyone had been watching. It was a beautiful, honest, moment where a human being acknowledged their gratitude for the life-sustaining food he was about to eat.

In the section of Rupert’s book he makes this observation – when we go to a restaurant the consumption of food has become more about a financial exchange. We sit down, chose from a menu, and place our order. When it comes to the table we expect it to be well-cooked, attractive, smell delicious, and to be exactly what we ordered. The food is about enjoyment, and coming up to expectations. If that food happens to be an eight ounce rib-eye it needs to have been cooked to our requirements. The fact that we are paying good money for this meal is one of the over-riding elements. Not the fact that we are eating what was a living being, or that this experience is such a privilege when compared to many areas of this very same planet, where many are starving. No. It’s all about value for money and getting the service we require.

Now, there might be many reading this who may be thinking, well, that’s not what I feel or do, but you can’t deny that it’s what seems to be the norm. The western capitalist sense of privilege over-rides the sense of gratitude. I’ll be honest. I’ve done it. And sometimes it takes reading a chapter in a book to remind me how much I can take for granted something so essential, so primal and a part of being alive. I’m making the promise to reset, to remember the actions of that priest all those years ago, and to take a moment each time before I eat, to give thanks for the food that sustains me. I’ll add this to my morning daily practice, and my daily meditations, which are already making such a difference to my life.

If you already do this, hats off to you. If you don’t, maybe you’d like to join me?

But of course gratitude doesn’t stop with our food. There is our health, family, friends, job, where we live, the music we listen to, our very breath, wild nights out and calm peaceful moments of contemplation. Like meditation, moments of active gratitude can help with our moods, our well-being, our health.

When things are so weird in the world it might sound odd to suggest that taking moments of gratitude can help us to be more positive, but it’s probably because of those things that we really need to seek out and remember what we are grateful for right now. From the sun rising every day, to the glass of clean water we drink, there is still plenty to be grateful for.

And I am grateful for you for taking the time to read this article. Let’s be grateful together.

23 responses to “Thinking About – Gratitude”

  1. You have it absolutely right. I confess that I don’t remember to say my graritudes every day, but when I do I feel so much more centered the next day.
    I am.calmer and happier.

  2. What a beautiful and thought provoking post. It is so true that we have so much to give thanks for and yet at times give no consideration to the miracles and sacrifice around us. It can be seen as a monotheistic practice but surely following the path we have chosen we have a lot to thank the earth for every time we eat. Lives given whether animal or plant. The toil that has gone into putting food on our plates whether by the farmers or otherwise. Thank you for making me stop to think Damh, I am with you.

  3. A wonderful quiet moment that clearly made a profound impression on you. The main point is that it wasn’t for show,it was a humble thanks,and that is how it should be. I always try to have respect for my food (and everything else!) ,I’m vegetarian but I make a point of never wasting food and to make the very best meal that I can. These TV programmes from the US involving a man eating ridiculous quantities of food with no thought of where it’s come from sicken me. Vile…..Rant over…

  4. Interestingly, doing a simple gratitude exercise each evening, like thinking of three things we’re grateful for in the day, raises happiness levels greatly over time. As a therapist, along with mindfulness, it’s a technique I try to teach all my clients and it really makes a difference. We begin to focus on all the good and the positive, which gradually allows us to become more aware of goodness, beauty and abundance in our lives. Thank you for this reminder!

  5. Some time ago, I changed my morning meditation/prayer to be one where I thanked the Universe for all it had given me. In July of last year, I narrowly avoided a heart attack, and that just reinforced my giving thanks for waking each morning, regardless of the weather, how I feel that day (old bones and allergies), or anything else.

    That I am up and moving, witnessing another day, and able to do the things I enjoy moves me to give thanks for all who have touched my life, from the farmers, to the doctors, my friends and family, even the joking fellow who emptied the waste can in my hospital room. I wish them joy, happiness, health and peace, and then I start my day.

    Thank you for your post and allowing me to share my thoughts

  6. When I pray, it’s 90% thank You, thank You, thank You. I think you’d be surprised at the things I thank the Gods for. One of the main things is for the grave to see and appreciate the beauty of everyday things. I thank God for storytellers, and for grocery stores. I thank Gods for those whom I love.
    But you struck a chord with me. From now on, I shall thank the beings who gave their lives, both plant and animal, for my nourishment.
    Thank you for that.

  7. My husband has a favourite comment: “Thank You is a sadly neglected form of compensation”. It costs nothing to stop for a moment and acknowledge what we have received, but so often we don’t take that moment to do so.
    Right now I am grateful for having had the company of a little dog who has been staying with me over the weekend (her Mum is collecting her this afternoon). And grateful for having been well enough to take care of her.

  8. A lovely post Damh.
    I like to give thanks and show gratitude each morning and evening. I’m lucky in having an open field behind my home and can step out onto this at anytime, away from everyone, away from the eyes of others and just enjoy that quiet moment of gratitude and peace. Often acknowledged with just a gentle breeze across my face, at just the right moment, even on the stillest day.

  9. Thank you. We all need this reminder again and again as an antidote to the sense of entitlement Western society fosters in us.

    In the Light ♥️

  10. An absolutely beautiful article Damh, Thank You for sharing it. I was raised as a Christian, so the idea of giving thanks for each meal was second nature. When I started on my Pagan path 30 years ago, I integrated that practice into my path. Whether you follow the God, Goddess, or whomever, I think it is indeed a beautiful thing to pause our hectic lives for a moment to share a moment of Thanks for what we have been given.
    Blessed Be!

  11. Absolutely! I am a tired, middle-aged, achy girl, with a mum-head full of so many things. When I remember to do anything, it’s always too late, and another Sabbat has passed me by, despite my trying to plan for it comfortably in advance. However, I am thankful every day; it comes in waves, and the gratitude washes over me and leave me with a warm glow. I feel liberated when I actually manage to do a ritual, but in lieu of that (and there are many lieus), I feel little ‘checks’ that pull me back and keep me mindful. The biggest thing I have to be oh so grateful for, is my little girl – a true Goddess gift. My wonderful husband is okay, too 😉 (Seriously, he’s my hero). So, thanks be, for all the great gifts I have received, and am still receiving. Blessed be.

  12. I am grateful for so much in my life and I express my gratitude frequently if not often enough. However, it’s the meditation I struggle with. My mind is a constant mass of a thousand thoughts of inconsequential rubbish all fighting to be addressed.

    Love your blogs Damh. Blessed be.

  13. Thank you so much for this Damh. I thought I counted my blessings, but realise now, never to this depth or degree. I would love to see this included in the Gwers….preferably on the very first page! Imagine if this was taught in schools. Imagine if every parent taught this to their children. Imagine if every religion taught this.

  14. Years ago, when I was still Christian, I found that my evening prayers had turned into all “gimmes”. Gimme more money, gimme a new job — that sort of thing. And I didn’t like what I saw when that realization hit me. So I made a rule for myself: I couldn’t ask God for anything until I had given thanks for three things. And they had to be personal things — not “Thank you for world peace” or stuff like that.

    At first, it was sometimes hard to find three things I could really express gratitude for. Some days had been so bad that I really struggled to find anything that I was really thankful for. But as I worked at it, fought with it, it became easier. And I became better at enunciating why I was grateful as well — “Thank you for dinner with my husband tonight. The food was tasty, and he made me laugh after the shitstorm my work day had been. Thank you for the sunset I saw; I can’t remember when I’ve seen that red in the sky, it made me just stop and stare at it. Thank you for the phone call from Mom; I miss seeing her, but phone calls make her not seem so far away.” Some nights, there were a lot more than three things to be thankful for, and I laid in bed just mulling them over in my mind, and often coming up with even more.

    The surprising thing — to me — was how much better y days seemed to get. I was finding things to be grateful for, in the moment, even during a bad day. I was happier, and kind of looked for things to be grateful for.

    Sadly — and I can’t remember how or when — I fell out of that practice. I’m a pagan now, so “bedtime prayers” are not necessarily a part of my life now. I don’t have the “gimme prayers” any more, but I’ve also forgotten about the gratitude. But this essay has made me rethink that. So I’m going to start again. Three things every night to be grateful for, before I settle down to sleep. Hopefully it will get me back to where I was, so very long ago.

  15. Thanks for this lovely post. Yes, the daily practice of “Gratitude” is a powerful way to bring even more Blessings into our lives. Several Spiritual paths I have studied & followed, taught the practice of “Giving Thanks.” I teach clients to focus on “Gratitude” also, to bring more abundance, joy & healing to themselves. In my family (growing up), we “Blessed the Food’ & “Gave Thanks” @ meal times, & “Gave Thanks” @ prayer times.

    We as children, usually did this more as a routine, taking our Blessings for granted. My mother often reminded me to more Sincerely “count my Blessings,” & even taught me a song about it. I can hear myself singing it right now, in my head, LOL… She reminded me regularly, to be to grateful for what I had. As I got older, & followed other paths that also taught the practice, I began to understand & feel it more deeply. I also learned to send healing light to the food, to remove any negative energy that may have accumulated in it along the way to my plate. I ask for it to be the most healthy & beneficial for my body, while Blessing it with Gratitude. This post reminds me to remember to do so @ each meal.

    Just before reading this, I had been doing a “guided meditation” that included acknowledging the Blessings in my life, & Giving Thanks for them. I try to focus each day on Thankfulness for things in my life that I may have taken for granted. This gives me a feeling of great joy & gratitude that carries me through the day… If we focus on the Positive, we can actually Bring more Blessings into our lives. /l\

  16. I’m not a great one for ritual but I end each day by saying three thank-yous: to my ancestors of blood for loving me, to my ancestors of bone for feeding and protecting me and to my ancestors of spirit for teaching and guiding me. I should probably pause more often during the day to consider how fortunate I am to be alive here and now but my threefold thanks before I go to sleep does make sure I remember at least once a day.

  17. I have been exploring different types of prayer / contemplation for sometime now. One that I have come across is using a word for focus. Each night as I drift to sleep I give thanks for my day and then with contemplative breathing I focus on the word gratitude. I think it has been making a real difference to me. Following this post and the reflection it has given me on my nightly practice I am going to join you in spreading gratitude futher in my life. I look forward to the book review in a few weeks /|\

  18. Thank-you for the reminder Damh. I used to give thanks for my food and drink when I was doing my training but somehow during the years since it has been lost. However I do acknowledge how grateful I am and was particularly reminded of this during this extremely cold spell – the thought of having to sleep outside……..! such abundance I have – blessings for you day.

  19. A thank you to the person who prepared the meal is ALWAYS appreciated. When my children were younger, I would spend a long time preparing the meal – with much love – only to watch it being demolished without a thought or a “thank you”! Obviously, the fact it was eated with such gusto showed me it was appreciated, but a smile and a wee “thanks Mum” would have made my heart sing! You are right Damh we need to take the time to slow down and appreciate the food, the source and the journey to the table!

  20. I admire how you tuck the word ‘privilege’ in this piece. I wholeheartedly agree and also suffer from similar attributes. Yet I am also grateful for reminders to check myself regularly for ill-placed pride, or better, I am grateful for reminders that my life materially has been pretty darn good so far. I, like many, have known death and loss. But I do not worry about my next meal, my heat works, my car runs, my clothes are clean. Many others don’t have that privilege.
    Gratitude is a good place to start for me as there are many to be thankful for and thankful to.
    Go raibh maith agat, a Dhamh.

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