Sometimes, it isn’t easy to find what we are looking for, particularly when it’s right in front of our nose. This challenge seems to get even greater as we grow older in years. We walk into a room looking for something with intent and then stand there like icicles frozen in a stiff winter wind, wondering — what did I come in here for? We rush out of the house because we are running late, and halfway to the car, we realize we’ve forgotten our phone. We rush back to the front door, and realize that we can’t turn the door handle because one hand is holding the keys and the other hand is actually holding the phone!
Do you remember how you felt on New Year’s Day, January 1, 2020? In a decade that started with great hope and aspirations for millions, it is perhaps difficult for many of us to find reasons to give thanks as we approach the end of November. And yet, here we are in the USA, staring at the annual holiday of ThanksGiving. The “third wave” of Covid-19 cases has brought stay-at-home orders, curfews, overflowing hospitals, case and death numbers that are difficult for our minds to comprehend. As if that weren’t enough, we are squarely in the middle of a constitutional crisis and a threat to our very democracy from within.
At the individual level, life as we know it, is in some ways, unrecognizable from what it was at this time last year. We may have lost a loved one, lost our jobs or endured business losses, suffered a physical or mental health setback, and more. We may have become way too familiar with the workings of Zoom or Google Meet or other video conferencing platforms. For those with kids of all ages or older adults at home, we may be feeling overwhelmed in our new roles as full-time care-givers, educators, and more.
I am sure that I am just scratching the surface of the ‘litany of woes’ that this year has brought our way. And yet, you well know that I wouldn’t be writing all this if I weren’t going to eventually ask you to pause and take a deep breath. Let’s do it together. Let’s pause, close our eyes for a minute, and take a deep breath and feel the inhaled air travel deep into our lungs, purifying the blood, returning it to the heart, and then bringing the impurities out of our body with a deep exhalation. Go ahead and do it a few times. I will wait.
If you did what I suggested, you should have felt a bit lighter. Breath awareness creates an environment which shuts off the wanderings of our mind and activates the light of our heart. In moments of pure breathing and its awareness, we give our mind permission to breathe too, and allow it to let go of our micro and macro challenges. As the mind exhales the chatter of challenges and preoccupying it, it creates space for giving and gratitude to enter the conversation. Once gratitude enters the heart-mind, we can then give it forward to others, can’t we?
One Sanskrit word for expressing gratitude or ‘giving thanks’ is dhanya-vaad. The first part of the word is dhanya – its root is the word dhan – which literally means ‘wealth’. However, as is often the case in Sanskrit, the word dhanya has many meanings, depending on the context in which it is used. According to the Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English dictionary, dhanya refers to one who is fortunate, who is blessed with wealth, happiness, goodness, virtue and joy. The second part of the word is vaad – which means ‘having a dialog or conversation’. Hence, dhanyavaad can be said to be the sharing and giving of our wealth through speech, dialog and conversation.
Awareness of our wealth has to precede its giving. If we are unaware of the wealth within our heart’s treasury, we will feel that we have nothing to give or share. Millions of families will attempt to celebrate ‘Thanksgiving at a distance’ this year. As we gather, we can perhaps share a few seeds of kindness, shine some rays of the heart’s light, and nourish each other with some sweet waters of gratitude. If we can do any or all of that, it will be a celebration full of healing and remembrance of the power of giving.
Let me say dhanyavaad to all of you for being you. May peace, health, wealth, and yes, breath, be always with you and yours, and may you share of your moments of abundance with joy.
P.S. Join us for our weekly twitter chat with the #SpiritChat community on Sunday, November 22 at 9amET / 730pm India. We will share some moments of giving (and receiving) through conversation. Namaste – @AjmaniK
When the heart is engaged in giving, sky is indeed the limit… Breathe the sky….