MENU

Brother David and Me: Ring of Gratitude

Jan 30, 2020

By Ann-Marie McKelvey, MCS Founder & Director

Upaya Zen Center, May, 2008 —
The very first thing I noticed about Brother David Steindl-Rast was his hands. Upon entering Upaya House he bowed, reverently greeting each of us with palms together and fingers pointed upwards. This fundamental mudra is known as gassho. For me it is a reminder to open to the strong abiding presence of deep gratitude and respect within each other and our environment.

At that time Brother David was a young 83 year old. Today at 93 he continues his activities as a Benedictine monk, Zen practitioner and global social activist. For decades his primary spiritual practice has been gratitude.

“Brother David,” I asked one early evening during a walk with him, “What is the most important ingredient in cultivating gratitude?”

“Surprise!” he answered with an enthusiastic gesture and grin. It was then I noticed and brought his attention to an unusual ring he was wearing made out of mala beads from India.

Brother David said he personally had made the ring and His Holiness the Dalai Lama had worn it the week before. In exchange he had given Brother David his mala of prayer beads to use. Later the two traded back. With a twinkle in his eyes he took the mala ring off his finger and put it on mine. He said, “This is a ring that has had good company. I want you
to have it.”

There it was; the element of surprise. Was I grateful? Indeed!

“Is it possible to always be grateful?” I asked.

“Yes,” Brother David responded, “We can be grateful for the opportunity that each event gives us. If we are in gratitude training to avail ourselves of the opportunities to enjoy whatever is presented to us, we can purposely look for the gifts.

“Ask, ‘What is this opportunity for?’ The answer will cause you to
grow. In retrospect, all our life experiences are wonderful opportunities for
growth.

“We tend to think joyful people are grateful for having so much joy. But it’s actually more simple than that. Grateful people are joyous because they are grateful.”

I often become somewhat narrow, perhaps even selfish, with my energy as I forget to nourish myself to counterbalance the work I do in the world. It is during these times I remind myself (when I come out of the trance) to seed and water the Field of Gratitude.

Are you looking for ways to practice gratitude?

One simple and profound gratitude practice is feeling and following the beat-beat-beat of your heart. I do this each morning prior to sitting on my cushion to meditate. I invite you to embrace the wonderment and gratitude of your aliveness by finding your pulse and feeling your blood pulsate through your precious human body.

Below are additional simple processes to evoke your Field of Gratitude.

1. Create a Gratitude Journal. Each morning write down five different aspects in your life that you are grateful for.

2. Practice looking at people and the world with eyes that say, “Surprise me!”. Notice what arises.

3. What makes you come alive? What do you want to dedicate your fullness to? For one day contribute the answer you receive to the world.

4. How shall you seed and water your Field of Gratitude?

5. Self-connect by asking if you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely and/or Tired. If you are experiencing any one of these four characteristics HALT. Nourish yourself and then consciously move back into the Field of Gratitude by writing in your Gratitude Journal.

6. Write a Gratitude Letter expressing to someone in your past something they did that made a difference in your life.

7. Go to your favorite spot in the forest, mountains, or shores. Sit down with your pen and paper and write about what you see. Let yourself be surprised.

8. Make your vessel of expectations smaller so that it will overflow with gratitude. So that it will overflow with Spirit.

9. Read spiritual writings s-l-o-w-l-y. Let the words send you back into the silence from where they came.

0 Comments

More Posts

Testimonials

[Right Speech] highly resonated with me and my current needs for growth. I cannot be more thankful for the support of this community, and our instructor Meg…With the guidance and support of the Mindfulness Coaching School I can see that I am closer to a life of purpose and meaning. Thank you Ann-Marie, instructors and fellow coaching students for creating this wonderful community.
Ruby OrcuttStudent CoachDerby, NY
The course [S-T-R-E-T-C-H!] allowed me to ‘stretch’ my ability to practice what I preach. Philip was very competent and helpful to all of us. It was a great experience. Thank you Ann-Marie, Philip, and Brittany!
ElKhansa KaicerStudent CoachLos Angeles, California
Business Alchemy helped me grow into and clarify my purpose in coaching. I was able to create the story of me that brought me to where I am and my passion to inspire others on their journey. Ann-Marie’s guidance through understanding service marketing was heartening, powerful and inspiring. Sarah’s encouragement and gentle way of pulling the essence of us to the surface was spectacular! Thank you both, as well as my fellow students, for an incredible experience! And I’m getting clients!
Brenda FaganStudent CoachNew Orleans, LA
Fabulous course to get you into or back into writing fearlessly and joyfully! [Writing, Creativity, and the Mindful Coach]
Lara AbreuStudent CoachPleasanton, CA
This class will give you a coaching community in just a few short months. I now feel that I have colleagues and a support system that I can reach out to in times of need. So grateful for having the chance to know these remarkable individuals.
Alicia UpchurchStudent CoachBrooklyn, New York
I’ve been a therapist for years now, but still get the jitters every time I begin to work with a new client (probably the “fixer” in me). It was a joy to watch Ann-Marie in action [during Skillful Means: The Coaching Skill Set] and realize that we don’t need to feel like we have all the answers for the client!
Jeanna SmithStudent CoachPhoenix, AZ
I highly recommend Business Alchemy if you want to learn practical and specific advice and tools to establish and grow your coaching business! This course helped me go from skeptical and uncertain to energized and equipped to create the thriving coaching business that I want for myself and my clients!
Matt WaldschmidtStudent CoachBruce Township, MI
More than just a class to help us eat more mindfully, Mindful Eating, Mindful Life is a great class for anyone interested in the topic, anyone with a desire to practice mindfulness in a new way and for anyone wanting to dust off or deepen their meditation practice. The course and materials may seem small, but they are so expansive. Thanks to Brittany for bringing this topic alive and for the school for providing such an amazing course in mindfulness.
Gretchen LarsenMCS GraduateBirmingham, AL
The Dynamic Trio: EMDR, Positive Psychology and Coaching, is a wonderful opportunity for professionals to learn varied techniques and practical applications for including an integrative approach into both their professional practices and personal lives. As a behavioral health therapist, LADAC, EMDR practitioner, yoga instructor, and health educator I found this class and Ann-Marie’s expertise and teaching methods both inspirational and mindfully practical. I look forward to further classes with Ann-Marie. Thank you!  
Misty Gay McArthurMSW, LCSW, LADAC, EMDR Trained
This course [Skillful Means] is life changing personally and professionally. Skills are not only learned, but internalized so that the coach can be an effective listener. I would highly recommend this to any coach — experienced or a beginner.
Sandy Wright, M.A.Student CoachFayetteville, AR