Magical nights and stealth blessings*

long exposure at night, full moon, Hana, Maui

The secret restaurant

“Want to go to a secret restaurant this weekend?” asked my friend Leokane when I arrived in Hana. My eyes lit up immediately. Yes! and when I noticed that the date was for 11/11/11 I was all the more thrilled. I had wanted to ritualize this day somehow, to do something special on such an auspicious night, but wasn’t sure how. This was the perfect thing.

Seems there are variations on this theme in every city, pop-up restaurants and other supper clubs that appear monthly and serve delicious food. Usually, you find your way onto their email list, promise to keep it on the down low and then make your reservation when they announce the next event. Some of my all-time favorite dates with Matt have been to these dinners. I love that the social barriers break down, that you are all in on the magic of something, that it’s like being at the most awesome wedding… like a true celebration.

I was delighted that this idea had made its way to Hana! and was held in the living room of a beautiful, historic home. “The collection of people that attend is always ecelctic and unexpected…” my friend assured me. Of course he had me at secret restaurant.

We walked into the living room where the dinner was held and in true Hana fashion, first removed our shoes. Then we walked around to every table as each guest got up and introduced themselves. It was so lovely! Can you imagine if every time you walked into a restaurant everyone said hello to you? We sat their for hours, drinking wine and eating course after course of tuna sashimi, avocado salad, mono, and on and on…

Our ritual

At about 10:30pm one of the guests at another table tinked his wine glass with a spoon and announced that we were approaching [11:11:11] on 11/11/11… After more than our share of wine, we decided that this was the moment for our ritual! We began by going around our own four-top and thinking about one person at a time. We silently sent them a blessing, the thing we thought they needed most for the year ahead. When we were finished, we rotated to bless the next person at the table.

Maybe it’s because we were a little tipsy, maybe because the night felt so magical, but we were so energized by this that we decided to do the same for every person in the room. One by one, even for the kitchen people we couldn’t see, we let a word come up for them– something we felt they needed to be blessed with, an antidote to whatever challenged them or was hard in their life.

What was extraordinary is that we’d do this silently and then share our words out loud with each other. The words we chose were different, but always had the same flavor. It’s as if each person’s energy was so powerful, all we really needed to do was tune in. We did this for all 15 people in the room.

Stealth Blessings

There is a lesson in the current Dream Lab class on Stealth Blessings. I first came across this idea when I was traveling in Thailand chatting with a Buddhist monk. He told me, “Meditation is about training the mind to be skilled in thought. When you are on the bus staring at the back of someone’s head, you can use that time to worry about money or all of the things you need to do, or you can use that time to bless the people around you. This is skilled thought. Thought that serves others.”

I was so inspired by this that I began to practice it at odd moments when I found myself in the line at the grocery store or the bank, those idle moments when you catch yourself going unconscious, getting impatient, and stressing out about everything and nothing. I noticed that this practice of blessing others had a powerful effect– it got me out of my head long enough to get present again and it cultivated a fullness in me, a compassion for others and also a connection to how much I actually have to give. Like I say in Dream Lab, “You don’t feel compassionate, so you bless. You bless, so that you are filled with compassion.”

As Thanksgiving approaches and I consider what it means to me to be grateful, I keep coming back to this simple idea— that the more we are in a space of giving the more we can touch into the fullness of our hearts. This is where a true gratitude emerges, not one that is manufactured, or one that we try to muster up for the gratitude list.

For me, it can begin with one simple thought that serves another.

16 Comments

  1. Posted November 21, 2011 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    beautiful as always… I am going to take the stealth blessings practice to heart.

  2. Posted November 22, 2011 at 1:24 am | Permalink

    I’m grateful for you! Thank you for filling up my heart, over and over again. xox

  3. Sara
    Posted November 22, 2011 at 2:53 am | Permalink

    I did this the other day! For each package i was mailing, I sent each person a blessing or a kind thought or a joyful wish for when they received their package. I was amazed at the energy I felt coursing through my own body when I did it! Thanks for reminding me…I need to keep this a part of my week!

  4. Posted November 22, 2011 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    What an amazing post! Thanks for the inspiration and for sharing this story.

  5. Posted November 22, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    This reminds me so much of the “loving kindness” meditation… which I’m going to assume you already know about, but operates on the same principle. You can send the meditation to yourself or someone else – I’ve found it to be one of the most useful things to get me through just about anything. I say google it, but for sake of ease I use the following mantra that was taught to me years ago at a yoga retreat:

    May you be filled with loving kindness
    May you be well
    May you be peaceful and at ease
    May you be happy

    It is particularly powerful when directed at someone that you feel anger or hostility towards (a tough task… I know. But worth a try). When things are tough or stressful (or unbearably painful, like during labor) send the meditation to yourself!

  6. Posted November 22, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    Here’s my word for you, just sent it, blessed you: vision.

  7. Corinne
    Posted November 23, 2011 at 2:07 am | Permalink

    Andrea! Thank you! I do this too, and now I know I’m not the only one and that there is a name for it. How powerful to think of all these blessings being sent out in to the world. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Vanessa
    Posted November 23, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    How beautiful! I will take this exercise to heart.

  9. Posted November 23, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Several years a go I did a brief stint working for my Agency in our national office in DC. I had a 1.5 hour commute each way to do it (using public transportation from Maryland) and I rather enjoyed this time. I usually did a crossword puzzle on the metro, but I also took some time every morning to look at all the people I was commuting with, and trying to see “God” in each of them. That interacting with each person was an opportunity to see the beautiful and the divine within them. This wasn’t really a conscious meditation, but I miss it. It made me more forgiving and loving towards others. How could I be mad at the guy who cut me off in traffic if I looked at God in him? Thanks for the reminder to do just that. 🙂

  10. Posted November 26, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    when i was 19 i had an accident and was taken in an ambulance half conscious and admitted to the hospital. the whole experience was unpleasant and scary for me. ever since then every time i hear the sirens of ambulance, i’d stop and send prayers to the person inside or the person that the ambulance was going to pick up. i still do this 18 years later. stealth prayer? i love doing the stealth blessings too, thanks for the reminder.

  11. Posted November 28, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    Andrea…I love your heart.

    <3 Julia

  12. Annie Lewis
    Posted November 29, 2011 at 2:03 am | Permalink

    I love the idea of Stealth Blessings! And I can only imagine the magic at the Secret Restaurant..oh!

    I bring a group of women together to celebrate (almost) every full moon. Each month we have little rituals. The one for December is for each of us to bring our goals and intentions for next year with the purpose being that as we think about our fellow Moonbeams we can help her realize these aspirations by also visualizing her success. While not entirely the same, the Stealth Blessings are similar. And I love this: Like I say in Dream Lab, “You don’t feel compassionate, so you bless. You bless, so that you are filled with compassion.” So true!

  13. Posted December 1, 2011 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    Powerful!!
    Thank you for this inspiration! I’d like to apply this.

    And.. What a magical night! 🙂

  14. Posted December 4, 2011 at 12:49 am | Permalink

    When the world seems so bleak, I go out in crowds and notice…all of these people are just going about their daily lives. They are not screaming hatred or beating each other. They are shopping, walking, taking their kids to the beach. And I chant to myself “All nice people. All nice people.” It is both a blessing and a reminder.

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