By Carol Anne Robinson - Peace Ambassador
Mother Earth is glorious in a kaleidoscope of colors this time of year! Snow covered mountain tops, golden aspen, gnarled piñon trees and tawny colored deer evoke a wellspring of gratitude for the beauty, harmony, peace and joy that the plant kingdom exudes. According to the ancient wisdoms, plants synchronize themselves to the greater rhythms of the cycles of day and night and the seasons, seeking always to harmonize with such things as climate and geology of location. It is this embodied coherence that creates the balance, harmony and peace most people associate with the plant kingdom.
The purpose of spiritual practice is to foster inner peace and personal transformation, while the time commitment ranges from lengthy (requiring hours each day) to brief and simple. How then does one define and achieve inner peace in the busyness of everyday life? First, let’s define inner peace as a type of coherence between mind, heart, emotions and body. When coherence exists there is a synchronization of energies (akin to the plant kingdom) that creates a harmonious vibration much like a multitude of tuning forks all resonating together, each with a distinct sound within the greater whole, and yet, when you are listening, it’s difficult to pick out any one tuning fork.
Gratitude as spiritual practice requires a relatively small time investment while paying big dividends in coherence!
New gratitude practices often focus on the obvious; a new job, a roof over one’s head, a comfortable bed, and the realization that a spouse or children are doing well. Simple or elaborate as a practice, the benefits of gratitude are well documented.
Many empirical studies have been done concluding that benefits range from higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination and energy to a greater sense of feeling connected, more optimistic and experiencing better duration and quality of sleep.
Studies that span two decades, conducted by Dr. John Gottman at the University of Washington concluded that couples able to maintain a high ratio of positive to negative encounters (5:1 or greater) are most likely to succeed in marriage. The formula is that for every negative expression (complaint, frown, put-down, expression of anger) there needs to be about five positive ones (smiles, compliments, laughter, expressions of appreciation and gratitude).
Isn’t it wonderful that the empirical studies show us some of the benefits of a grateful heart? But what of the hidden gem that arises in the form of personal transformation? For gratitude opens the heart and coherence creates space for the imprint of divine inspiration, creativity, healing and compassion, within the golden chalice of the human spirit.
A sense of gratitude and coherence were the impetus for creating the Many Faces ~ One Peace ~ All My Relations peace festival hosted by CarolAnne Creations and held in Dallas, TX on May 18, 2013. We have gratitude for the wisdom and skillful tools taught in The Shift Network’s Peace Ambassador Training and a desire to share peaceful practices with others in an atmosphere of joyful coherence. Luminaries shared their vision for a culture of peace, and led experiential circles and community dialogue. With gratitude we celebrated the effort of various Dallas organizations tirelessly working for peace, through music, dance and taiko drumming at the close of a perfect day!
A personal transformation of healing and compassion arose from my gratitude practice this summer. For half a century there had been friction between my sister and me. Steeped in gratitude and coherence a flash of insight took me back in time to when I was four years old and a wounding occurred. Little did I know that my sister had internalized a sense of guilt for not protecting me. She made up for it by being overly protective! In that moment I was able to stand in her shoes. As my heart thawed, compassion poured forth, healing the rift created long ago.
I believe that the riches of gratitude extend beyond empirical studies and my personal examples. With Thanksgiving approaching, my hope is that you will explore a gratitude practice of your own and find a wealth of personal treasures. Sonja Lyubomirsky of the University of California, Riverside, suggests doing “one small and unobtrusive thoughtful or generous thing for each member of your family. Say thank you for kind or thoughtful gestures, express admiration for skills or talents, and truly listen, even when you’ve heard the same story many times before.” For it is through the practice of gratitude that we foster peace within our own hearts, as well as within our families, communities and the world at large.
 William Meader, The Plant Kingdom: The Root of Mystical Yearning
 Emmons and McCullough, 2003.
 Ocean Robbins, The Neuroscience of Why Gratitude Makes Us Healthier, published in DailyGood.org, Oct 30, 2013
Carol Anne Robinson, founder and CEO of CarolAnne Creations, is a financial and accounting professional with 30+ years of experience. Ms. Robinson is dedicated to integrating heart-centered practices and business solutions for socially conscious entrepreneurs and companies. She is a 2011 graduate of The Shift Network's Peace Ambassador Training and co-creator of the Many Faces ~ One Peace ~ All My Relations peace festival held in May 2013 in Dallas, TX. The next Dallas peace festival is scheduled for Spring 2015.
A current ministerial student at the University of Metaphysical Sciences in Arcata, CA, Ms. Robinson also offers educational workshops on heart-centered business practices and worker-owned cooperatives.
Please email Carol Anne at CarolAnneCre888s@gmail.com for workshop availability or if interested in collaborating on an upcoming peace festival in Dallas or your own hometown. To learn more about Carol Anne - click here.
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This article appears in:
2013 Catalyst - Issue 20