Archive for November, 2010

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the United States. Giving thanks is intrinsic to this day, so much so that it can become automatic, or even rote or routine.  I have been trying to remember gratitude, while carrying out The Things To Do for Thanksgiving. The other night, shopping for Thursday’s meal, I placed some vegetables in the shopping cart.  Oh, yes, be thankful you have vegetables, I reminded myself.  I am thankful for the vegetables, Auto-Me replied, pondering what type of cranberry sauce to get (or should I make it fresh?). The Reminder Self persisted. Ok, now be grateful you have so many choices.   Yes, yes, I am really grateful, was the automatic response, as I read over my list to see what else was needed.  The dialogue ensued, aisle by aisle. There was a vague current of thankfulness pulsing in my veins … but it lacked aliveness, spark, dazzle.   Booooorrrrrriiiiiinnnnnnggggg.

This may be mixing metaphors, or as Joseph Campbell writes, embracing a Transcendent Reality, but this holiday I decided to take a Metal approach to my gratitude expressions.  (A Taoist Thanksgiving?)  As I’ve written in previous posts, Metal is about valuing inherent worth – gold, silver, diamonds, crystals being the material expressions of this element.   A diamond or a piece of gold may take up little space, yet it holds a compression of value.  Treasures to be appreciated,

A compression of value exists with each object we take into our lives. The bread I purchased for Thanksgiving stuffing – the wheat was grown, then milled, baked, wrapped up for sale, transported to the store, displayed, and finally purchased by me. Think of all the people involved – farmers, millers, factory workers, retailers who order products, store clerks who stock the shelves, cashiers who ring it up …. it may be simply a loaf of bread, but the bread did not simply appear.  Just saying, “I’m grateful for the bread”, without really engaging in its worth is empty.  But when my gratitude extends to each and very person involved, what fullness!.  It’s no wonder I felt a deadness in the grocery store, following my litany of rather superficial thank you’s.  Cursory gratitude holds little energetic resonance.

The people in our lives …. consider their worth.  We all have parents and if we take a moment and realize what they have done for us (perhaps more apparent if we are parents ourselves), the list is endless.  By focusing on the specifics, paying attention to as many acts of kindness you can recall, a wealth of love and care is revealed.

I remember reading a book on parenting a long time ago and this piece of counsel has stayed with me.   When you praise a child for his or her work – say a drawing – refrain from a generic “Oh it’s beautiful! Great! Love it!” compliment.  Pick a detail and describe what you see.   Whenever I take the time to do this, the child opens up – like a blossom – with the attention paid to some particular aspect of their work.   A statement such as: “That green square sitting on top of the purple oval really catches my attention.  What made you decide to do it that way?” would inspire an excited explanation. The value assigned to the one detail opens up the worth of the entire project.

Being grateful for the details is easier at some moments in our life than others.   Going through holidays following the loss of a loved one, or during extreme stress or dark nights of the soul, the details may seem trivial or even banal.   And yet, making the effort to find at least one light in the darkness can be life-saving.  I recall one event when I was with a group of friends and we were bringing our dear friend, Jim, in a wheelchair to the Emergency Room.  He had been a visitor there frequently the past months, each time more and more serious.   Gathered in the lobby, waiting to accompany him upstairs, we were all really sad, as this seemed – and later proved true – to be the beginning of the end.  All of a sudden, another friend, Mark, looked at the wheelchair and began moving several gears.  “Look, this is new,” he remarked, pointing out a particular mechanical improvement (I have no clue what that was) and how it allowed the chair to glide more smoothly around corners.  He was so delighted with the ease of the chair, that we all perked up and noticed it as well, Jim included.   No, the gears never restored Jim’s health, nor bypassed the grief that we eventually went through, but in that moment, our mood lightened and life became a tiny bit more bearable as we wheeled Jim upstairs to his hospital room.  I am grateful for that detail.

This Thanksgiving holiday, take a few minutes – even if you’re hosting a huge dinner to numerous family and friends – and note the details of your gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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While all the seasons have their magnificence, autumn has a particular artistry, as attention to form, structure, details is called upon the observer.   In autumn I see the trees in their structural forms.  The skeletons of plants and flowers reveal their previously unseen beauty.   I see the mountain from my window which this summer was hiding behind a leafy ash tree. The distraction of vegetation is gone and a mountain, a rock, a neighbor’s house are able to be seen in this moment.  What I now contemplate has changed.

It is deep autumn
My neighbor
How does he live, I wonder.

The element of Metal, occurring now in autumn, is about stripping down to the essentials, as we descend into the darkness of yin, leaving the light of yang. There is a mourning, melancholy quality, as insects, birds and animals retreat, the leaves wither and dry, falling to earth, and the planet “dies” until visions of Spring summon it all back.  While there is a grieving over what is departing, there is a concomitant appreciation for all the temporal beauty.  You only mourn what you once deeply loved.

As we turn the light inwards and descend into the darkness, it is a time to reflect on what we hold precious and valuable. Take in the inspiration.  Our biological lungs, with its bronchi, bronchioles, and sub-microscopic alveoli, have a surface area larger than a tennis court! We have this bountiful capacity to take in air, oxygen and qi.  So too does each individual have this bountiful capacity to take in inspiration.

Metal is about living in and with structures – not rigidly to imprison us, but helping us maneuver the chaotic details of life, giving form to art, alignment in our daily lives and focus as we manifest our goals. As you go through your day, direct your precise attention to structures that surround you –  in nature, in human-made objects, in your daily life.  Immerse yourself in the details – God(dess) is in the details, as the saying goes (and is paraphrased here!).

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It is autumn and we are in the element of Metal,
with all its beauty and challenges.

Come drink seasonal teas,
learn how to care for yourself and your loved ones
– in bodily and mystical ways –
during this magical season.

The Lung and the Large Intestine are the organ systems of Metal,
a time for Inspiration and Letting Go,
literally and figuratively.

Breathe in … inspiration
Let go … colon health
learn how to care for yourself on all levels.

Saturday, November 13th 2010, 10 am to noon, $25.00
Stone Ridge Healing Arts, Stone Ridge, NY

Call for further questions and to reserve your place –
space is limited for this hands-on seminar.

Therese Sibon Acupuncture

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