Count Your Blessings Day 1

Today I was inspired to start focusing on all the good things happening to me each day.

The whole point of feeling better is to feel better, but our progress can also be measured in the circumstances of life.

Better yet, appreciating the good things we already have is an excellent way to feel better about life right now.

So I thought it a good idea to begin adding up and appreciating these good things in life and posting them here to help me focus.

First up: I slept really well last night! I woke up feeling relaxed and rested.

My wife’s plans for the day changed, and instead of cleaning up the house for guests she’s gone out to a cafe and the baby is asleep so I have unexpected alone-time to relax and think about things and feel good!

I had an insight into my planned Four Temperaments book. I realised that trying to be methodical and exhaustively detached just didn’t suit me. I don’t just want to rehash what others have said; I want to share my own experiences and reflections and that means taking an unapologetically melancholic perspective for a determinedly melancholic audience!

My wife spontaneously did a couple of chores around the house that we’ve both been meaning to do for ages but never got around to!

It’s delightfully cool and windy today – the autumn weather I love most!

I roasted my last batch of coffee and ordered twenty kilos more of green beans!

We had a great Easter with a big family lunch yesterday and it all went really well!

This morning I heard an excerpt from an Abraham-Hicks talk, and it inspired me to write a blog post that really homes in on my spiritual perspective. I was really pleased with that post, and it even drew together a poem by Kabir, a passage from the Dao De Jing, an excerpt from Samuel and a bit of Theology of sacrifice and atonement. Suitably eclectic, interior and mystical!

I took my daughter for a walk this afternoon and met up with my wife. We enjoyed looking at beautiful and interesting houses on the way home.

My wife saved me some delicious churros. I don’t think I’ve had them before.

We had enough ingredients for a tasty salad for dinner, drank a beer brewed by a friend, and watched one of my favourite tv shows.

An easy, pleasant day full of enjoyment and peaceful relaxation!

A reflection

Counting blessings is an interesting process because it begs the question prompts me to wonder: what are blessings to me?

Something prosaic like my wife spontaneously finishing an old chore is meaningful to me in my life.

And it’s translatable to others in the form of: a lingering domestic burden suddenly and easily taken care of. Nice!

But more personal to me are things like: being inspired to write a post that hits all the right notes for my spiritual beliefs and experiences.

It doesn’t need to be translated to others, but perhaps I need to translate it for myself? Because things like money and property and relationships are often easier to assign value to, since their value is widely accepted (though still variable and subjective).

We can “count our blessings” financially and familially and in terms of health and relationships. But ultimately blessings are for us as individuals to appreciate, and what I appreciate as an individual needn’t have currency to others more broadly.

Like finding an article in Chinese about the martial art i practice. It’s a rare art and resources are scarce, so even a humble newspaper article means a lot to me. Count my blessings!

But even that can be translated to others.

Let me then consider a blessing the ease with which I thought of, and found online, the quotations I used in my blog post.

Let me consider it a blessing the ease with which I put into words my experience of finding God within me, and the work of soothing and reconciling worldly thoughts that take me away from that inner peace and knowing.

Let me count as a blessing how I managed to soften and soothe a painful thought, rather than digging into it looking for resolution.

If we rely on others’ real or imagined criteria for what a blessing is, we might think we are hard done by.

But laying claim to the things that I value, the things that are blessings to me, I can appreciate more fully the abundance at my disposal.

After all, I’ve been wanting and asking for unusual things like deeper understanding of prayer and mediation, greater familiarity with sacred texts, and an instinctive sureness in finding my own answers.

If I count them all they will add up to a great deal, regardless of how much store others place in them. I’m the one who values them, so let me value them properly and feel the appreciation of being so blessed!

The Way of abundance

The way I lost weight and the way I healed my autoimmune pain had a lot in common.

One of the commonalities was my underlying belief that health is natural. Our bodies naturally incline to a healthy weight. Our immune systems naturally protect the body rather than attacking it.

According to Daoism it is our interference in nature and our contrived efforts to control nature that end up causing illness and dysfunction.

So the whole time I was searching for the solution to these physical problems, I had great faith that my natural state of health would re-emerge if I stopped interfering.

And it did. I took away compulsive overeating, listened to my natural hunger, and my weight decreased naturally.

I stopped pushing myself and let go of various stressful thoughts, and my pain and inflammation went away.

What about life?

But when it came to the rest of life, that faith dissipated.

Why?

Partly because “nature” is easier to associate with the body than with society, economy, and meaning in life.

These “higher order” subjects are usually associated with the problem of human interference, rather than with the movement of the Way.

But it’s also partly because physical health is not under our direct control. It makes sense that our health would follow nature, but how can our career choices, income, daily interactions, or the flow of traffic?

False dichotomy

I didn’t give up on finding the Way in daily life, but because of this dichotomy between the human and the natural I concluded that finding the Way in everyday life was much harder and required more effort.

I was fixated on the problem of “ego” and the Daoist idea of being free from desires. I thought I had to attain a special spiritual state before I could find my Way.

It didn’t occur to me to equate living a good life with the natural health of my body.

Yet health and wealth are not so different. The Dao or Way that governs my physical body and draws it naturally to health is the same Way that guides my life into ease and abundance.

So by inference, what I require is faith that the Way wills abundance in my life just as it wills health in my body, and the only obstacle to both is my own interference.

I don’t need to attain a special spiritual state, just stop interfering in the natural flow and movement of the Way.

Health and wealth

Wealth is not just about money and property. The word itself actually means “well-being” and comes from the same root as “weal“.

In fact health isn’t just about the absence of illness and disease either. Health is wholeness and completeness, and by extension well-being also.

Daoism teaches that the Way nourishes and cares for all beings. Reminiscent of “Consider the lily” or the birds of the field, the mysterious power of the Way assures us of well-being.

How do we get out of our own way? How do we stop interfering with the wholeness and well-being that flow to us?

As I’ve been learning, the answer is twofold: first and most importantly, appreciate and savour the well-being that already flows to you, because in so doing, we tune into the source of that well-being and reaffirm its full availability to us.

I did this automatically with my health issues: recognising that the rest of my body functioned perfectly well; and even going so far as to recognise that being overweight was actually a healthy response to overeating, and that my autoimmune pain was a healthy reaction to internal stress and emotional tension.

The second part of aligning with our natural well-being is to recognise that it is our negative thoughts and ensuing emotions that interfere with this well-being.  The Way does not abandon us, we are the ones who deviate from its path.

In that sense, our negative feelings and the absence of well-being is an indicator that we are straying from the path. The gaps in our welfare and happiness are self-inflicted, if we stop entertaining them our natural well-being will quickly reassert itself in our experience.

Imagine, then, the streams of well-being flowing to you from the Way, the mysterious being that governs and nourishes all things, nourishing and guiding you into the wholeness and well-being you desire.

Remain in that stream, appreciate the goodness and relief and happiness it contains and let it carry you forward in grace.