[Catalyst #20] Gratitude!

By Stephen Dinan, founder and CEO of The Shift Network

I love the deeper meaning of Thanksgiving, which reminds us to be in a state of gratitude for all the bounty of the year. That's why in this issue we've invited some of our Shift Network faculty, including Andrew Harvey, Mirabai Starr and Bill Bauman to share audio prayers and meditations that help us deepen our experience and practice of gratitude.

We also have a Stanford professor's article on the Science of Gratitude, a beautiful piece on an Appreciation Dinner from Luisah Teish, and an article from the founders of Cafe Gratitude, among others.

Our featured videos this issue include Brother David Steindl-Rast and a TV segment from an extraordinary prison Shakespeare program that I was able to attend with Shift team members at San Quentin State Prison. My beloved Devaa Haley Mitchell, who leads our women's programs, has been volunteering in this program, which is SO powerful in transforming lives.

Luke Padgett, one of the most compelling actors in the troop, has written a special piece on gratitude for this issue as a Member Profile and we have a potent poem from Larry Mosley, another inmate. There's something particularly powerful about learning to live with gratitude even within prison walls.

We strongly encourage you to take action to support this work by donating to Prison Bridges Project here.

Also, as we focus on gratitude, it is important to remember people suffering from tragedies around the world. At this time, the people in the Philippines are especially in our hearts as they recover from Typhoon Haiyan. We encourage you to support an organization that is doing direct relief there—click here for an article on how to help.

On other fronts, we're gearing up for a Planetary Birthday extravaganza on Dec. 22—a 4 hour live online event with dozens of top leaders such as Barbara Marx Hubbard, Jean Houston, Lynne McTaggart, James O'Dea, and more. So mark your calendars for 12:00–4:00 pm Pacific time and we'll share more as we get closer!

May you be filled with a spirit of gratitude in this season!

Special Audios

Gratitude Prayers and Meditations
Andrew Harvey, Mirabai Starr and Bill Bauman offer special prayers and meditations on gratitude. We hope these audio recordings uplift and inspire you. Click here.


"A Good Day" With Brother David Steindl-Rast
This video, featuring Brother David, a highly-respected Benedictine monk, author and spiritual leader, is a BLESSING to all those with "eyes to see and ears to hear." Look, listen and be inspired by this powerful message on grateful living and visit gratefulness.org for more of his work.

San Quentin: Inmates get break with Shakespeare
The Prison Bridges Project is committed to using theater, the arts, media and consciousness raising practices to create a peaceful world. Devaa Haley Mitchell volunteers for this program and several Shift Network team members attended the recent performance at San Quentin State Prison.

The Science of Gratitude: The Power of Counting Our Blessings
By Dr. Emma Seppala – Stanford University and Peace Ambassador Training Faculty

If we have a roof above our head, a couple of meals a day, are educated enough to read this article and have access to a computer and the internet, we have received more opportunities, material goods, and education than the majority of the world's population. In fact, research suggests that, in general, we actually have three times more positive experiences than negative! However, burdened with the problems that we inevitably face in life, we often fail to remember the blessings and give too much importance to the problems in our life. Psychologists have found two reasons for this habit . . . [read more]

Gratitude: A Family Ceremony to Honor the Harvest, Ancestors and Each Other
By Luisah Teish

Every Fall my extended family holds a ceremony to honor the harvest season, the ancestors, and each other. We take pride in setting a beautiful table, covered in rich fabrics adorned with plants from the season. We dazzle each other with nutritious foods, usually home grown or purchased from the local farmer's market. We prepare dishes from our ancestral cultures. Our desserts are heart healthy, tasty and appealing to the eye. We indulge in drinks made with exotic fruit: Membrillo Tequila from Mexico, Honey Mead from Ethiopia, Amarula Cream from South Africa.

We stand around the table for a few minutes looking at all the things present, the birds and fish, the fruit and vegetable, the seeds and spices, We stand around the table, hold hands, and take nine slow deep breaths as we look at the light in each others' eyes. We give thanks to all aspects of the mystery of Life. The Eldest in the circle says: . . . [read more]

Café Gratitude: Serving Food and a Whole Lot More
By Matthew and Terces Engelhart

What Are You Grateful For? How one question has helped transform lives and build an empire.

There seems to be no end to theories and information about what it takes to build a successful business. CEOs and aspiring business professionals pour over the pages of Fast Company and Forbes and Inc. on a regular basis searching for information on how to survive and thrive in our somewhat difficult economic situation. As a result, businesses everywhere are become more creative, more employee focused, more conscious and more sustainable. However, as conversations about company success continue to evolve, CafĂ© Gratitude is thriving on a very unique, but powerful value system—that system is based on gratitude . . . [read more]

A Peace of Gratitude
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 . . . [read more]

Gratitude for a Cold
By Michelle Johnson, The Shift Network

As I sit here today with my box of kleenex and cough drops, I am highly aware of the value of some of the "not so pleasant" experiences offered in life. Now, I could choose to go the typical route of many and lament my clogged nose and scratchy throat, but what good would that serve? It would not change the circumstance or speed up the healing process. In fact, it would most likely slow it down. So, instead, I choose to use it as yet another opportunity for gratitude . . . [read more]

By Larry Mosley, a member of the San Quentin Shakespeare Theatre group

Patience is time subtracting impulse
From movement
Opening key windows of opportunity
Displaying strength in the control
Of one's self
Awaiting that critical moment
To be free . . . [read more]

For submissions and recommendations, email editor@theshiftnetwork.com.
UPLIFT 2013: Universal Peace and Love In a Festival of Transformation – Dec. 12–15, 2013 in beautiful Byron Bay, NSW. UPLIFT 2013 will bring together some of the world's most inspirational artists and innovative thinkers to explore, inquire, share and discover together, our role in the creation of a new paradigm of global sustainability and oneness. Use this coupon code: SHIFT33 and you will receive a 52% discount to participate via live-streaming + 60 days on-demand viewing. To register – click here.

Gandhi and the Gita: Uncovering the Soul of Selfless Action – a retreat conducted by the Metta Center for Nonviolence. Dec. 6-8, 2013 Mt. Madonna Center, Santa Cruz, CA – click here.

INTERRUPT VIOLENCE: Interactive Website Takes You Deeper Into THE INTERRUPTERS Kartemquin Films is pleased to announce the launch of www.INTERRUPTVIOLENCE.com. This site extends and deepens the national outreach campaign generated by acclaimed, Emmy-winning documentary THE INTERRUPTERS.

Search for Common Ground – Annual Luncheon Fundraiser – November 24, 2013 | 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. | YOSHI's San Francisco | 13303 Filmore Street (at Eddy) featuring John Marks, founder and President, and Susan Collin Marks, Senior Vice President and Summer of Peace Wisdom Council Member – click here.

Julian Glenn "Luke" Padgett: Gratitude and Shakespeare
By Julian Glenn "Luke" Padgett, a member of the San Quentin Shakespeare Theatre Group

Watch this video of Luke talking about his experience as an actor of Shakespeare plays in San Quentin.

What is gratitude and where do we find it when the last thing you hear at night is the loud click of your cell door being locked? As a prisoner with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), I have trained my mind to be open to the smaller moments of life. The smell of the ocean, a warm raining morning, and prayer: these help me get through all of this. I have learned this is where the action of gratitude is born. As a member of the San Quentin Shakespeare Theatre Group, I have seen many men come into our acting therapy class with defeated spirits . . . [read more]

2013 Catalyst: (#20, 11/16) (#19, 11/3) (#18, 10/20) (#17, 10/6) (#16, 9/21) (#15, 9/8) (#14, 8/25) (#13, 8/4) (#12, 7/21), (#11, 7/7), (#10, 6/16) (#9, 6/2) (#8, 5/12) (#7, 4/28) (#6, 4/14) (#5, 3/24) (#4, 2/24) (#3, 2/9) (#2, 1/26) (#1, 1/13)

Birth 2012 Catalyst: (#15, 12/9) (#14, 12/1) (#13, 11/22) (#12, 11/10) (#11, 11/3) (#10, 10/20) (#9, 10/6) (#8, 9/16) (#7, 9/8) (#6, 8/25) (#5, 8/16) (#4, 8/4) (#3, 7/28) (#2, 7/21) (#1, 7/14)

  2013 Issue 20 • Nov 16
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Like Us. Collaborate!
We encourage you to support the Prison Bridges Project, led by Suraya Keating. Suraya plans to expand this work by creating ongoing drama therapy groups with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated youth. One part of this vision is to create a theater troupe that integrates formerly incarcerated youth with formerly incarcerated adults who have made amazing positive change in their lives to serve as mentors for the youth.

Learn more and donate here: Prison Bridges Project

Reclaiming the Feminine Christ: What Female Mystics Can Teach Us About Living a Sacred Life – A special free call event with rising inter-spiritual teacher Mirabai Starr on Wednesday, November 20th at 5:30 p.m. PT.

Evolve Yourself, Evolve Our World with Shift Network Courses

Peace Ambassador Training with James O'Dea
Not too late to join!
Spiritual Mastery of Money with Corinne McLaughlin & Gordon Davidson
Starts November 19
The Bestselling Author's Intensive with Gay Hendricks
Starts November 21
Higher Guidance Training with Tim Kelley
Starts December 3
Soulful Women Certificate Program
Starts January 22, 2014

Gratefulness.org – A Network for Grateful Living (ANG*L) provides education and support for the practice of grateful living as a global ethic, inspired by the teachings of Br. David Steindl-Rast and colleagues. Click here.
By Eleanor Tara

Dr. Ali Kane, who is a friend to many of us at the Shift Network, has been a teacher of meditation, yoga and healing for nearly 20 years, and has infused deep wisdom into her musical offerings as Ali Maya. With a theme of prayers for the waters of the earth, her debut album Oceans of Compassion invokes a spirit of planetary healing and awakening through the power and beauty of music. It features vocal harmonies backed by soulful guitars, rootsy indigenous chants sung with rattles and drums, funky spoken word pieces and soothing, meditative expressions. It's all recorded in the healing frequency of 432 Hz. Listen to it here and experience the magic for yourself.
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