Welcome to DAY 4 of our practice. Let’s begin…
Please close your eyes while you take three slow, deep breaths. Then open your eyes and consider the invitation to: “Recognize Your Privileges.”
Over the past few days we have considered many “ordinary” gifts and miracles in our lives. Today we get to contemplate the fact that many of these gifts are also privileges meaning that they might be available to us but not to everyone. For the first time in history we are among a large cohort of people who have instant access to other cultures and information from around the globe; wisdom teachings that could previously only be accessed by traversing continents, along with the education, security and leisure to pursue things beyond what we need for survival. This is not to say that each of us don’t have our struggles but, if you are reading this on a computer or mobile device, the above is likely true for you. It is important not to take our privileges for granted.
The word “privilege” can too often invoke shame and that is not our intention here. It is simply for each of us to more fully recognize what might be available to us that is not available to everyone and, out of recognition and gratitude, to see if/how we might use our privileges to benefit others and help improve our world.
Today, we invite you to:
- Set an intention to recognize your privileges. Notice how simply setting this intention impacts you.
- As you go through your day, consider the many gifts in your life which are not available to all others. These might include the ability to see, read, write, walk, or have access to running water, electricity, the internet, transportation, a safe space to call home, etc. Notice the opportunities that these gifts allow you…
- Sometimes our privileges show up as an absence of fear; for example the fear that we will be treated unfairly because of the color of our skin, our gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, economic status, faith, or cultural traditions. What are some of the privileges that allow you to move though parts of your life with less to fear?
- Rosa Parks is a powerful example of someone who, in spite of coming from a community denied basic rights, used what she had “to make this world a better place for all people to enjoy freedom.” Consider some of your privileges and how you might use them in service to others and/or the world.
- At day’s end, reflect upon what you noticed, how it feels and what might have changed as a result of following your intention to recognize your privileges.
- Write about your experiences in a journal and/or share below.
If you would like to explore this topic further, you might appreciate:
- From Obligation to Opportunity – a grateful living practice
- I Will Be a Hummingbird – an inspiring video (2:00) by Wangari Maathai
- On the Shady Side – a poem by Rabindranath Tagore
- Eight Ways to Stand Up to Hate – a primer by Elizabeth Svoboda.
Enjoy the full eight-day A Grateful Day | A Grateful Year practice.
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I have a sign on my To Do pile that says, “The purpose of life isn’t to get it all done, but to enjoy each step along the way and live a life filled with love.” That may be so true, but I often just end up feeling guilty about failing to enjoy each step…. I think “I get to… when so many people cannot” (“From Obligation to Opportunity” practice) is a much simpler and more motivating message. I lead such a privileged life and am so grateful to be reminded of that fact.
I never thought that living in a democratic state is a privilege, even if there is always room for improvement.
So I am grateful for this too, and I add this “cherry” on the top of the cake of all the other privileges that have been gifted to me.
I am grateful for the privilege of having a family to take care of and jobs that I can work at to earn money.
When I reflect on all my privileges I feel overwhelmed with gratefulness and I am humbled.
The privilege of:
being born at all – my mother died a year after my birth
spending the first year of my life with my mother, who was dying of cancer – unnoticed back then until too late
my father and Aunty Lily between them finding a housekeeper of great skill and kindness who restored things to ‘normal’ in the household
my upbringing in the wilds of New Zealand in a timber milling village called Waituhi …
Those were my starting privileges. I am now at the other end of my life, still here as Ram Das would say. Which brings up a host of other privileges, such as being educated and able to read Ram Das, meeting Brother David in New Zealand during his first visit here, deciding to Google his name when I first got a computer, and despite my first grade skill in using it, have found this web site. And there are MILLIONS of priviliges in between, each of the ordinary/extraordinary kind.
Elizabeth, thank-you for that sharing! It is so touching!
An unusually severe cold front has come my small Texas town. I have the privilege of heat, electricity, entertainment in the form of TV, e-books, books, etc. I am privileged that I have recently retired and do not have to worry about getting to work.
I am in a period of discernment – waiting to understand what I can do with my gifts and talents to help those who do not enjoy the privileges I have always had. I am so grateful for the privilege to take time to find out what my next steps will be.
Lynn, best wishes to you on your retirement. I retired 7 years ago and it is the best time of my life. It has given me the time to do alot of “inner work”. May you find this time of your life rewarding and fulfilling.
When I first started out as my mother’s sole caregiver, I did not know much about comfort and care. After 19 years, I appreciate the privilege of having been with her until she took her last breath. None of it was a chore to be completed. We just led a quiet life. There is nothing high tech about being with the infirmed-giving comfort is a low priority in our society.
Thank you GT. Caregiving is indeed a perfect example of something that we can see as a privilege if we frame it as such, and not simply an obligation. And you are right that it is one of the most sacred of opportunities, often not offered recognition or due value in our society. Thank you so much for sharing this example with us.
You are insightful. Frequently, caregiving is seen in terms of aging. The disabled, the mentally ill, and any one may be in need. Thank you for connecting.
Thank you for this amazing meditation!
Every day my thought about privilege is: I have access to running water and a privite bath in my house. All gifts mentioned here is completely truth and I notice them, I should kneel right now and giving thanks for all.
Today I spoke again with my students about our ability to see, read, write, walk… I asked them, please, go and notice this beautiful world.
Beautiful awareness, and a beautiful way to share it with others! Thank you Cintia. How blessed your students are. If only our educational system focused on teaching this kind of gratitude…We are glad that YOU do!
Cintia, what a blessing you are for your students and a wonderful role model!
Wishing you a good day!?
For some reason I was having trouble this morning with today’s practice. Then I read “From Obligation to Privilege ” and when I am going to do something instead of saying ‘I have to’, saying ‘I get to, when so many people cannot’ made a huge difference for me! Thank-you for this!
Peace and blessings to all.?
Thank you for sharing this Sheila, and for staying with the learning. This “Obligation” practice is meant to be a heart-opening re-frame. We are glad it was meaningful to you, and hope that many others will also find it to be so…