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As family and friends settle in for a Thanksgiving celebration, it is easy to watch the distractions piling up. The football games are waiting, the cooking is underway and the kids are getting louder. It is a day of “too much”—too much food, too much noise, and sometimes even too much family and friends.
It is easy to lose sight of the opportunity to stop and remember the many people for whom we are thankful. Who are you thankful for? The Thanksgiving Reflection described below is designed to help you really answer that question. You might be surprised at what emerges. The reflection does not take a great deal of time, although I recommend that you not try to rush through it. Take your time and enjoy it.

Thanksgiving Reflection:

Step 1 Bring a pad and pen with you and find a place to sit quietly and comfortably for a few moments. Connect with your breath by feeling the breath sensations arising and dissolving as you settle into the present moment.

Step 2 Bring to mind the first person who touched your life in a positive way and write their name on your piece of paper. Perhaps that person is still physically with you, or perhaps they are here only in your memory and your heart. Take a moment to enjoy any feelings of warmth that arise in your body, or loving memories that arise in your mind. Continue through your lifetime stopping at each milestone to bring to mind those that help you move on to the next phase of your life: childhood, adolescence, college, 20s 30s, etc. At each point, jot down the name of the person that comes to mind. Try not to rush through this. If you get interrupted, just stop and come back to this practice later.

Step 3 When you are done, read through your list, offering a deep, heartfelt thanks as you recognize that without all these people, your life experience might have been very different. Send a message of thankfulness to each one and, as you do, pay close attention to what arises in your heart.