Cultivating Gratitude and Pronoia

Cultivating Gratitude: Zen Master Lessons and Wisdom of Pronoia

In a world often rife with suffering, illness, and heartbreak, finding solace may seem elusive. However, Zen Master Zono, a beacon of wisdom for those navigating life’s challenges, offers a simple yet profound practice: cultivating gratitude. In the face of adversity, she advises, “Thank you for everything. I have no complaint whatsoever.” This powerful mantra, uttered every morning and evening, and in response to life’s twists and turns, embodies a transformative approach to living.

The essence of Zono’s teaching lies in embracing gratitude as a daily ritual. It’s a mindset that transcends circumstances, reminding us to appreciate both the joys and tribulations that shape our journey. By expressing gratitude, we shift our focus from what is lacking to what is present, fostering a sense of contentment even in the midst of trials.

I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.”
—Henry David Thoreau

Wisdom of Pronoia

Integral to this practice is the concept of pronoia, the antithesis of paranoia. Pronoia is the belief that the universe conspires for our well-being, orchestrating events in our favor. When we trust that the universe has our back, gratitude becomes a natural response to every person and situation in our lives. Even challenges take on new meaning, seen as opportunities for growth rather than obstacles.

In embracing pronoia, we acknowledge that everything works together for our good. This belief empowers us to navigate the complexities of life with grace and resilience. Gratitude becomes a force that transcends circumstances, a guiding light in both the darkest and brightest moments.

As we adopt Zono’s practice and cultivate pronoia, we discover that gratitude is not merely a reaction to favorable circumstances but a way of life. It becomes a source of strength, resilience, and inner peace. In the words of Zen Master Zono, “Thank you for everything. I have no complaint whatsoever.” It may be a tall order to embrace this mantra. However, much like the concept of forgiveness, this may help us better experience harmony and peace.  In this simple expression lies the transformative power to reshape our relationship with life itself.

Following is a recording of one of my live Rest meditations to help you cultivate “gratitude” as a part of your everyday life—and as a pathway for being fully human.
(Click on image)

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Culativating an Attitude of Gratitude

Cultivating An Attitude of Gratitude

Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude Meditation 
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n positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Why? Because gratitude can help us experience more positive emotions and better able us to relish good experiences and even reduce symptoms of depression. It also can improve our overall health, help us better deal with adversity, and build strong relationships. While this research is relatively new, the principles have been a part of human being’s traditions for eons. This is particularly true in many of the world’s faith traditions, as well as indigenous peoples, such as our own Native Americans who truly practice an attitude of gratitude as daily practice.

Learning from past traditions

I write this in the week of Thanksgiving, which is traditionally the time we take pause to give thanks for all we have harvested during the year – goals accomplished opportunities ensued and people who made a difference in our lives. Yet going back in time the first Thanksgiving was celebrated after the first harvest and attended by 90 Wampanoag Native American people and 53 Pilgrims (survivors of the Mayflower). Having always lived close to the Earth, Native peoples must have understood the great hardships the Pilgrims had endured. They could teach the newcomers how to live with the land and the changing environment.

I recently read of how Native Americans have always had a tradition of expressing gratitude in all their gatherings. Unlike most of us, I am very intrigued with how broad they cast their gratitude. Whether for a council gathering or of family they always begin with a ritual of giving thanks. They believe they have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things.

Bringing minds together as one

They start by bringing their minds together as one as they give greetings and thanks to each other—so their “minds are one.” Then they proceed to thank what they refer to as their “Mother the Earth” for all it’s bounty. Thanks for the waters to quench their thirst and nurturing life to all beings. Thanks for the fish, plants and animals, and for medicinal herbs for health and healing. They give thanks for the trees and beautiful songs of birds. Each day without fail the sun travels the sky from east to west, bringing the light of a new day providing the source of life and the moon that governs the movement of tides. Finally, they thank their ancestors and the very source of creation itself.

Author Daniel Defoe’s famous 300-year-old novel, “Robinson Crusoe,” provides a portrait of how gratitude can enhance one’s life. Crusoe is the sole survivor of a shipwreck in which he finds himself alone on an unknown island. Rather than falling into despair and focusing on loss and regret, Crusoe begins to count his blessings. He’s alive and has been able to salvage many useful items from the wreckage. Thus. thanksgiving becomes a part of his daily life.

Ways to cultivate gratitude

Gratitude is a way for us to appreciate what we have instead of always reaching for something we lack. As we learn from native peoples, there is a whole world—much of which we take for granted—to  be thankful for. Some ways to cultivate gratitude on a regular basis include writing a thank-you note and keeping a gratitude journal. Meditation and prayer produce positive healthful hormones. Even thanking someone mentally produces can do the same.

Whether we are inspired by fiction, native peoples or our faith or family traditions, gratitude is an essential ingredient for living a healthful  and engaging life. It involves both receiving and giving. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is like a growing a currency from which we can never be bankrupt. The more we feel it and express it, the more deposits in our master gratitude account, canceling out facing “notes” of regret at the end of our life.

Join me now as we cultivate an attitude of gratitude

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iRest Meditation and Hanna Somatic Movement–a gentle movement practice to release pain and enhance mobility.

Harvest Moon reminds us to harvest our blessings

Harvest Blessings and Cultivate Gratitude

Fall Equinox

Since ancient times, the arrival of spring and fall has been celebrated around the world at the equinox—a time when Earth’s day is split almost in half. This year the autumn equinox arrives on Wednesday, September 22. This is a time for us to get in synch with the seasonal energy. It invites us to cultivate gratitude and harvest our blessings as we enter an introspective and reflective phase of the seasons.

On the fall equinox, the amount of daylight from the sun has reached a midpoint of decline. With diminished photosynthesis leaves lose their vibrancy and begin to change color. As sunlight decreases, nature prepares itself for the winter season ahead. Abundance of color is everywhere to be seen. Leaves, asters and chrysanthemums burst with colors of red, purple, orange and yellow, and pumpkins and squash rest in fields ready to be harvested. In spite of all this abundance around you, you might be reflecting on what’s lacking, undone or missing in your life. However, instead of the glass half empty—why not appreciate the progress you’ve made, what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown.

“As you turn inward and fall in love with the truth of who you really are, you become whole, despite the brokenness.” – Chloë  Rain, Musical Artist

Shifting focus onto your blessings can help you integrate all the experiences of the past year, even those you wished had been better. The fall is a good time to cultivate acceptance for what is and what has been. Then you can tend to the clearing out or releasing what is no longer needed make room for the love, truth and wholeness to be realized.

Second spring

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”—Albert Camus, French Philosopher

I like the idea of autumn being a second spring. Even though the sun’s energy is waning, the cooler fall days can have an energizing effect as you prepare for the end of another year and the long winter ahead. Why not take advantage of this energy to inspire you to make a plan and complete what is unfinished.

The shift between light and darkness can spark an inner shift that can, in the words of theologian Meister Eckhart: “And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”

“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.” – Louis L’Amour, American Novelist

Harvest blessings with the Harvest Moon

The Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the fall equinox. Watch for its brilliance on September 20 this year. Symbolically, the harvest moon represents a new beginning, coming after the hard work and dedication of the past year.

“It is the Harvest Moon! On gilded vanes and roofs of villages, on woodland crests and their aerial neighborhoods of nests deserted, on the curtained window-panes of rooms where children sleep, on country lanes and harvest-fields, its mystic splendor rests.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Enjoy this time of grateful harvesting, completion and beginning.