Every time I go to the Buddhist temple, Sensei talks about something that seems to speak to me where I am right at that moment.
After so much pessimism and anxiety this week, I’d just decided that I wanted to focus more on the positive things in my life. The very next day, Sensei did his Dharma Talk about the practice of gratitude.
“I still get angry,” he said, “I still get annoyed, but by practicing gratitude, I have somewhere to come back to, another way of looking at a situation that keeps that anger from getting out of control.”
He went on to explain that Jōdo Shinshū Buddhism contains very little in the way of practice. There’s no monastic order, no hours and hours of meditation, no hitting people with sticks. The only thing a Shin Buddhist is supposed to do is recite the nembutsu sincerely (“Namo Amida Butsu,” which means, “I take refuge in Amida Buddha”). This is intended to bring awareness to the qualities of the spiritual Buddha that we wish to emulate, like compassion and, yes, gratitude.
OK. I get it. Gratitude it is.
Knowing that a gratitude journal isn’t my thing, I’m going to devote the next couple of blog posts to noting things for which I’m grateful. You know…things that don’t suck?
Today, I’m doing a list:
- Baking cookies with the kids from start to finish with no one yelling, hitting, or asking me to wipe their butt.
- The tulips in my flower bed.
- Hugging my husband.
- Snuggling in bed and reading books to my daughter.
- Reading an engrossing novel with a glass of wine by my side.
- Watching a movie that’s neither animated nor a kid-oriented nature show with my husband after the kids are in bed.
- A well-shaken martini. (Thanks to my buddy Ken for teaching me this art.)
- Walking to the library in the sunshine.
- Lying next to my baby and hearing him laugh in his sleep.
- Taking pictures of gingerbread cookies bathed in natural light from the kitchen window.
Making an origami pelican and having it turn out like the picture on the instructions (mostly).
- My kids singing Led Zeppelin’s “Black Country Woman” in the backseat of the car (the little guy singing, “Hey hey, Mama!” is especially awesome).
My husband read this list and said, “Wow, you are a ray of sunshine today!”
Well, I don’t know about that. I hesitate to claim that my cloudy mood is over and done with. Mostly now I’ve decided that I’m tired of feeling crappy emotionally and the least I can do is to start trying to steep myself in happy stuff and mixing metaphors rather than rolling around in the yucky stuff all day long.
We’ll see how long I can handle the treacle before I need something more substantial to chew on (like melancholy and malaise…mmm, satisfying!). At least if I’ve gotten myself into the habit of gratitude, it will be easier to see the light before I get dragged as far into the darkness as I have been lately.