Affecting One Another

by | Feb 4, 2023 | 0 comments

We affect one another.

I was thinking this earlier today. After encountering a series of unexpected difficulties, I found myself frustrated and grumbling, beginning to view my life with a whole lot of resentment. And then, I remembered.

Whenever we gather for one of the online mini-retreats offered most every month, a fairly stable schedule is followed. We engage three practice sessions running thirty to forty minutes in length. Between the first and second, we tune into embodied experience and do whatever is suggested by this wisdom source: eat, drink, walk, stretch, and so on. After session three, we open the floor for discussion.

The purpose of this last block is to give us an opportunity to share any takeaways that might linger from the just completed retreat. Any insights or inspirations that might feel relevant to the days and weeks ahead. This is a chance for those who are so inclined to speak their takeaways into the world. It is a chance for those who are listening to receive what’s being expressed.

Within this concluding period of ‘give and take’, someone spoke of gratitude. They spoke, more specifically, of having gratitude for the difficult in life. Gratitude for the challenging and uncomfortable, and for everything these experiences offer their necessarily unique journey though this world.

I remember being struck by this when it was offered. This aspiration toward such an expansive experience of gratitude stopped me for a moment. It gave rise to a pause, in which I felt a spark of inspiration to practice something similar in my own life.

To be honest, however, I soon forgot this moment. That spark soon diminished in intensity and brightness, and I returned to a more familiar approach to living. This is the approach I had cycled back to in the opening of this piece: one frequented by frustration and resentment.

What a surprise then, in the midst of this, to find that inspiration returning. To find it’s flame once again burning, illuminating. ‘May I practice gratitude for the difficult,’ I quietly affirmed. ‘May I practice gratitude for this challenging circumstance and for all the companionship it offers on this journey.’

This was an affecting moment. After uttering these words, I felt a kind of openness ripple outward. I felt a sense of – and an affinity with – others enduring similar circumstances. I felt appreciation for my ability to meet and engage my present difficulties. I felt gratitude for the person who had spoken of being grateful in this way, for those who had come together during this most recent mini-retreat, for the chances we have to gather in this way.

I realized, yes, we do affect one another.

Which is the beauty of practicing in community.

– Neil


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