Wednesday 6 July 2011

small stones as a gratitude practice

As part of our morning practice, Kaspa & I do a few minutes of something called 'Nai Quan'. 

We sit quietly and ask ourselves three questions - over the past 24 hours, what have I received from others, what have I offered in return, and what trouble has my existence caused others?

This morning I decided to focus on the first question, and my immediate surroundings. 

After feeling thankful for my zafu (the cushion I sit on), I turned my attention to the lamp we bought from IKEA last year. The photo above really doesn't do it justice. 

It has a double layer of golden woven rattan, in an elegant tulip curve. It sits on top of a silver 'bud' and a simple stem, and the light makes warm patterns on the walls as it passes through the weaving. 

After thinking about receiving the beauty of this lamp, I went on to think about who had made it. Who wove the shape? Where was the rattan grown and picked? The sun shone on it, and someone watered it. Where did the metal come from? How was it made? Where is the smelting factory? Who made that? Who works there?

And then, the light-bulb. What an astonishing invention. The electricity that comes through the wall into our house. Who laid the lines underground? Where is the electricity made? 

I could go on. All this, so I can press a button and let golden light into our shrine room. 

Today, see your small stone practice as a gratitude practice. Look around you. What have you received in the past 24 hours? What can you notice? What are you thankful for?


  1. You have a lovely attitude and thus a happy life. I on the other hand,I see the foggy side of life.


  2. Although I didn't exactly follow your guidance I do feel gratitude for my children's ability to find pleasure in small things.

  3. I am grateful for seeing a deer in a yoga pose (Cat/Cow), for good conversation with a woman last night whom I've never liked very much, for noticing more every day. You have a very beautiful blog...blessings for small stones.

  4. I just found your website on a link from someone who linked to me. It has been such a lovely discovery. I will start writing small stones soon.

    I am a practicing Buddhist, but I am not familiar with the term "nai quan". Do you know what country/language/lineage it comes from? I had trouble Googling it. It seems like a beautiful practice. Thank you so much for sharing it. ♥ Lola @ Buddhatropolis

  5. Dear Lola,

    You may have more luck searching for the Japanese term Naikan - I have written about it here:

    Nei Quan is the Chinese translitteration of the Japanese and I think it's an anachronism, we use the Chinese characters to differentiate the practice we do in our morning servies, from Naikan which is marginally different.

    Naikan is a relativly new practice (develped in Japan in the 20th Centuary) based upon older buddhist meditations.

  6. forigve the errors in that post, I am using someone else's PC and it is running terribly slowly. Which is a poor exucuse, but I'm sticking to it.