Gratitude isn’t just for Thanksgiving

The Oxford dictionary teaches us that gratitude is the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

But gratitude is much more than that. Gratitude is a state of mind that we need to cultivate every day, an exercise that is essential to our mental and spiritual health. And it’s essential to our degree of happiness.

When we tend to complain that we don’t have enough money to buy a bigger house, to go on more holidays, to buy a more expensive car, we always need to remember how little others have. And even when it seems we have too little, we need to remember the good things that we have in our life, the things that really matter.

There is always something to be thankful for. Maybe you have a roof over your head, some food that you put on the table, a good relationship with your loved ones. Hopefully you have your health, which many times we take for granted, until we lose it, or a loved one does. Maybe you have a quiet nook where you can hide and read your favorite books, or recharge for an hour a day. Maybe you have a job that you don’t hate. Or children and grandchildren to be proud of.

There is always something to be thankful for. Your next breath is something to be thankful for. The sunlight caressing your skin. The senses that allow you to listen to lovely music, or smell a beautiful flower, or taste your favorite food.

The events that surround us lately, either close-by or in the news, showed us that many things we took for granted can be taken away from us in a heartbeat, sometimes with one person’s decision. It’s not fair, sometimes it’s not something we can control. But we can control our reactions to what’s going on around us and inside of us. We can cultivate gratitude and kindness, toward ourselves and toward others.

There is always something to be thankful for. 

Today I am thankful that, thirty-eight years ago, my soulmate was born.

I am thankful for my readers all over the world, who give me their time, their money, their attention, their emotions.

I am thankful that I will be able to take a hot shower and sleep on clean sheets tonight.

What are YOU thankful for right now?

 

Meditation by @TaylorLeeWrites

Few of us ever live in the present. We are forever anticipating what is to come or remembering what has gone.”― Louis L’Amour 

I swear that I have the “busiest”, “never quiet” brain in the world.  That’s why I’ve been paying more and more attention to the study of Meditation and Mindfullness. Take a look at some of the evidence below from an article by Alice G. Walton, a Forbes Magazine contributor, and see that there are real concrete benefits to “taking the time out to be still.”

 

Below are 7 Ways Meditation Can Actually Change the Brain: 

  1. Meditation Helps Preserve the Aging Brain 
  2. Meditation Reduces Activity in the Brain’s “Me Center” 
  3. Its Effects Rival Antidepressants for Depression, Anxiety. 
  4. Meditation May Lead to Volume Changes in Key Areas of the Brain 
  5. Just a Few Days of Training Improves Concentration and Attention 
  6. Meditation Reduces Anxiety — and Social Anxiety 
  7. Meditation Can Help with Addiction 

Life is a dance. Mindfulness is witnessing that dance.”  Amit Ray 

Do not ruin today with mourning tomorrow.”  ― Catherynne M. Valente,   

 Now that you’ve seen how meditation and mindfulness actually change the brain check out these meditation  “Myth-Busters” by the inimitable Deepak Chopra and decide whether meditating just might be for you! 

7 Myths of Meditation by: Deepak Chopra, M.D. 

Myth #1: Meditation is difficult. 

Truth:  This myth is rooted in the image of meditation as an esoteric practice reserved only for saints, holy men, and spiritual adepts. In reality, when you receive instruction from an experienced, knowledgeable teacher, meditation is easy and fun to learn. 

Myth #2: You have to quiet your mind in order to have a successful meditation practice. 

Truth:  This may be the number one myth about meditation and is the cause of many people giving up in frustration. Meditation isn’t about stopping our thoughts or trying to empty our mind – both of these approaches only create stress and more noisy internal chatter. We can’t stop or control our thoughts, but we can decide how much attention to give them.  

Myth #3: It takes years of dedicated practice to receive any benefits from meditation. 

Truth:  The benefits of meditation are both immediate and long-term. You can begin to experience benefits the first time you sit down to meditate and in the first few days of daily practice.  

Myth #4: Meditation is escapism. 

Truth:  The real purpose of meditation isn’t to tune out and get away from it all but to tune in and get in touch with your true Self. In meditation you dive below the mind’s churning surface, which tends to be filled with repetitive thoughts about the past and worries about the future, into the still point of pure consciousness. In this state of transcendent awareness, you let go of all the stories you’ve been telling yourself about who you are, what is limiting you, and where you fall short – and you experience the truth that your deepest Self is infinite and unbounded 

Myth #5: I don’t have enough time to meditate. 

Truth:  There are busy, productive executives who have not missed a meditation in twenty-five years, and if you make meditation a priority, you will do it. 

Myth #6: Meditation is a spiritual or religious practice. 

Truth:  Meditation is a practice that takes us beyond the noisy chatter of the mind into a place of stillness and silence. It doesn’t require a specific spiritual belief, and many people of many different religions practice meditation without any conflict with their current religious beliefs.  

Myth #7: I’m supposed to have transcendent experiences in meditation. 

Truth:

Some people are disappointed when they don’t experience visions, see colors, levitate, hear a choir of angels, or glimpse enlightenment when they meditate.  Although we can have a variety of wonderful experiences when we meditate, including feelings of bliss and oneness, these aren’t the purpose of the practice. The real benefits of meditation are what happens in the other hours of the day when we’re going about our daily lives. When we emerge from our meditation session, we carry some of the stillness and silence of our practice with us, allowing us to be more creative, compassionate, centered, and loving to ourselves and everyone we encounter. 

“In the end, just three things matter:
How well we have lived
How well we have loved
How well we have learned to let go” 
― Jack Kornfield 

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And when you are through meditating and are super mellow, grab Topaz, the third book in my provocative Ladies of the Night series and crank up the excitement. The Ladies are covert agents in a secretive, off the grid security organization.  Highly trained fighters, they’re as gorgeous as they are dangerous to the evil men they’re hired to bring to justice. The only thing these formidable women are NOT is “ladies.”  

Topaz 

FREE Jan 28-Feb. 1 

Maya Taveras, Code Name: Topaz, is a mixed-race Zoe Saldana look-a-like.  As mysterious as her heritage, a hideous incident in Topaz’s troubled past gives her a dangerous  connection to the   international Cartel leader at the top of the DEA’s most wanted list.  Agent Grayson Webb joins Topaz to infiltrate down the formidable organization. Not surprisingly, Webb falls for his partner, the sultry Topaz. A roller-coaster of a ride rife with violence, sexual attraction and unexpected rivalries make this stormy tale a page turner from the first page to the last. 

And if you can’t get enough of sexy ‘Good Guys” check out my gang’s latest collection: 

Unforgettable Courage

Unforgettable Courage: Protection and Loyalty 

My book in the set is 

The Courage to Triumph 

Caught in a hotbed of White Supremacist activists, both Ava and Luke become the targets. Not only do they have to overcome the constant danger, but Luke and Ava must decide if they can give their love a second chance.