The number 1,000 appears in the Bible some 50 times. In terms of time, 1,000 is a ‘millenia’ and when referring to quantity, the number conveys the immensity of the thing in question without the totality of it. In health and development, research has shown that the first 1,000 days of life are what UNICEF call’s the ‘brain’s window of opportunity’ where the future health of an individual is largely set and can either set a child on the path to wellbeing or to a life of morbidity and early mortality. The first thousand days are are immensely important for the totality of one’s life and that is why health and development agencies focus their investments in those first 1,000 days. So how do we apply this to a spiritual practice?
The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali advises:
Practice becomes firmly grounded when well attended to for a long time, without break and in all earnestness
In some Buddhist traditions, 1,000 repetitions of a practice is the magic figure at which one becomes an adept.
In some traditions, it takes ten years to even begin to walk the path. So, let’s not get carried away with pats on the back just yet. We have another 9,000 days to tackle!
My friend and much admired colleague Alicia once reminded me that we are in such a fast paced world that we often don’t pause to take a moment to reflect and appreciate our accomplishments before we move on to the next challenge. And although I am inclined to continue to push the envelope by explicitly adding new practices, it is a joy to reach the first 1,000 days that have firmly grounded us in the practice. This has been the heart, soul and mind’s ‘window of opportunity’ to become attuned to a higher vibration, develop new neural pathways for positive emotions and for the practice to become habitual.
In the first 1,000 days of Gratitude practice, we organically added joy as a by-product of gratitude and then came to see that a sense of abundance led us to want to give back to the world in service. A sense of connection with others when we looked to be of service in the world grew into our concept of looking for a sense of Oneness in our lives. After the first year of practice, we moved to a weekly post and started to look for meaning in our experience. Without being explicit, this has become a fifth practice.
Meaning as I define it, is the symbolic value we give to our experience. It is the sense we make of the chaos of our lives. It is the thread of narrative that we write out of our daily experience and which helps us to know who we are, to be in awe of our place in creation and to discover our values in this lifetime. Meaning then, is no small thing. It tells us the why of what we are doing. We can find meaning in times that are good as well as those that are full of sorrow. As we reach upwards to spirit with Gratitude and Joy, we reach into our depths of soulfulness with Oneness and Meaning.
Related to the concept of meaning is living with a sense of Purpose. Purpose, as I define it, is living in alignment with our values and using our gifts to translate those values into action with the intent to create a positive impact in the world. Happiness scholars argue that having and working towards a sense of Purpose is one of the key ingredients to creating a life of Meaning. And so, the two are inextricably lined and as we formally add the search for Meaning to our practices, we will add working towards a sense of Purpose, as well.
As I anticipate the road ahead and reflect upon the 999 days that preceded this one, I feel so grateful for all those who have been on this journey with me. Getting through the first 1,000 days of practice was no small feat and it didn’t happen without inspiration from others. If there was something wise that I did to get this practice grounded, it was to seek out and speak to those who inspired me, so that I could learn from them the secrets to carrying on with a difficult task when things were not always easy. I am grateful to all those artists like Louis Masai, WRDSMTH, Food of War, Noriaki, Matthew Del Degan, Monsu Plin, and C. Michael Frey who have inspired us and shared with our community their beautiful hearts and souls through their artwork. I am grateful to all those who are not necessarily artists but who are working in their own capacities to make the world a better place, including Alexandra Jackman, Alicia Altorfor Ong, Lord Richard Layard, Action for Happiness , Elie Calhoun, and James Wheale of the Nomadic Community Gardens. They have been an inspiration to me, and I hope they have been, to you as well. And, because love, and music are my own personal spiritual path, I am grateful to Dan Shears, Jesse Cook, Chris Church and Josh Savage for sharing their music and their hearts with us.
I never know who is reading these posts unless you choose to comment. But I do always write these posts with you, specifically, in mind. I am grateful to you for coming here and witnessing this journey. It is a joy whenever I hear that someone has been inspired to live more gratefully and even if I don’t know who you are, know that you are embraced by me, and we are a community. You are always part of the circle of Oneness at Ten Thousand Days of Gratitude.
Over the past 999 days, I have at times wondered why I continue to post publicly about my private life. I wonder why I do what many could see as a pedestrian practice, over and over and over again. I have come to realize that I value inspiration and one purpose of my life and my time on earth – one of the things that sets my soul on fire – is the potential to inspire others to live a more sustainable, meaningful and connected life. Rather than just quietly living my own life of gratitude, I have chosen to make show up and make public my triumphs and my struggles with as much truth and vulnerability as I can muster. And so, as we turn the page from 1,000 days my service is to continue to keep showing up to these practices with you.
In the past few weeks leading up to this milestone, I returned to writing a daily gratitude post with the audience being my friends on Facebook. For me, personally, if there is any meaning in the writing of a 1,000 day post, and the work of the 999 days leading up to it, it is the way opening my heart to you and laying bare my life has repaid me with love and fullness beyond measure. Words today fail to express how grateful I truly am for you. I hope that witnessing and (it is my hope) joining in these practices has and will contribute to your deeply fulfilled life, dear reader.