How to Practice Gratitude Meditation
Gratitude is one of the healthiest of all emotions. It’s more than just saying thank you, it’s the positive feeling of a deeper, more resonant appreciation for something.
It’s so easy for us to think that in order to be happy we have to obtain certain things that we don’t currently have.
The reality is that is not how happiness is created at all. On the contrary, happiness comes when we see and appreciate what we already do have, within. From that perspective it is easy to see how living in a state of gratitude fuels happiness. The two are inextricably linked.
Throughout the history of the world, gratitude has played an important role in spiritual practices, and has recently found its way into popular culture with the rise of social media and a growing awareness of living mindfully. A quick search on Instagram for #gratitude will bring up endless memes, quotes, positive posts about the importance of practicing gratitude every day. While these are fun to look at and share, the real benefits are seen when you actually learn how to make gratitude a seamless part of your life, integrated into the way you approach everything you do.
Buddhist monks start every morning meditation with a chant acknowledging the blessings in their lives. Native Americans follow a similar ritual, taking time to always thank and appreciate the beauty of their natural surroundings. For these cultures and groups, gratitude is as normal as breathing.
For us in the Western world with our demanding schedules, habitual stresses and exhausting routines – gratitude can get pushed aside all too easily. This is a mistake on our part, cultivating an attitude of gratitude should not be a chore to squeeze into the day! Gratitude practice is vital to us living out the best versions of ourselves in our lives.
Scientific research shows that those who regularly practice feelings of gratitude are healthier, emotionally and physically, with lower blood pressure and a more positive life experience.
A simple way to begin is a combination of keeping a gratitude journal alongside practicing meditation. Every day you write 3-5 things that you are grateful for in your life. It could be as huge as having a roof over your head or as small as the delicious coffee you enjoyed that morning or the person who held the door open for you.
There are no rules when it comes to gratitude! And the best news is it’s a domino effect, the more you find to be grateful about the more wonderful things flow into your life, and the cycle continues.
Growing gratitude through meditation
Meditation techniques are some of the most effective and long-lasting ways to grow gratitude within. Meditation is a powerful tool that can greatly enhance your quality of life. Simply by sitting for a few minutes each day, you can cultivate an awareness of self on a very deep level. From this awareness come feelings of kindness, clarity, generosity, compassion, understanding, and of course gratitude.
Meditation is available to everyone at all times. It is quite literally the most effective way to achieve a sense of happiness and purpose in your life, and it does not require huge effort. You do not have to become a monk. You can start with small, manageable steps and build your own practice to suit your lifestyle.
A good thing to remember when you meditate is that negative mind chatter will arise, and that is true for everyone. The mind does not like to obey easily and when you first sit down you may well feel alarmed and discouraged by the amount of negative thoughts.
When this happens, it is helpful to remember that the brain when in its natural state (i.e. not clouded by individual worries) is kindness, is love, is gratitude. If you remember that you might find it easier to relax. Instead of muscling your way to achieve an empty mind and getting frustrated, you see that you are merely uncovering a pure state that already exists, it’s just been clouded temporarily by habitual mind chatter and negative thinking. It is there, trust that is and you will find it.
If you are not familiar with meditation, then beginning with the following techniques for cultivating gratitude are a wonderful way to dip your toe into the world of quieting your mind.
When you practice gratitude during your meditation, you are focusing the mind on positive things, rather than trying to erase any negative thoughts that come up.
Below is a suggested step-by-step process for fostering feelings of gratitude through meditation.
How to begin graditude meditation
Sit down somewhere where you are comfortable and undistracted by noise. A meditation cushion can help keep you comfortable when you sit for long periods at a time.
Start by taking some calm grounding breaths as you settle into the space around you.
You can begin with the eyes open and then after a few moments of breathing, let them close gently.
Begin by really feeling a sense of your body sitting on the cushion or wherever you are. Breathe into a sense of peace, feel the inhalations and exhalations. Bring yourself into your own body with your breath.
You can do a mental scan of your body, starting from the top of the head and moving gently all the way down to the tips of your toes. You can note feelings of tightness or discomfort, also places of ease and lightness. Don’t focus or get caught into those observations, just let them be noted. While performing this scan you can also begin to consider your hand positions during meditation as well.
Notice your thoughts as they arise and allow them to be there, just breathe into them and try to bring your focus back to your breath.
Rather than worrying about any thoughts of fear, anger, concerns that arise, see them instead as leaves falling gently from a tree or fish swimming past you in the sea. Just let them go. You don’t have to erase them, but you are not looking at them right now.
Graititude Meditation Script
Appreciate the time you are taking for yourself by sitting in this meditation today.
Become aware of how wonderful it is that you can hear, see, smell, taste and touch. That you have the gift of life, your breath, your heartbeat, the way your body works perfectly. The use of your legs, the ability to sing, dance, run and swim.
Say to yourself I am grateful for this.
Then move to acknowledge everything that has played a part in your wellbeing and life so far on this planet. That might include the planet itself, in all its glorious beauty, nature and wildlife. You might move on to appreciate where you live, places you have traveled to, the greater community, the generations who came before, humanity itself as it has evolved over time, everything bringing you to exist at this unique, prosperous moment in time.
Say to yourself I am grateful for this.
Appreciate your own unique self, your individual mind, freedom of thought, imagination, creativity and desire. Say to yourself I am grateful for who I am.
Think of everything you have lived up to this point and the lessons these experiences have taught you. Feel appreciation for your innate ability to survive, to prosper, to choose happiness now no matter what.
Say to you yourself, I am grateful for this life experience.
Now take some moments to appreciate those special people in your life, family members, relationships, friends, children, pets and all the people you see every day. Think of all the love and beauty that exists within all these individuals. Feel the connection that you have with them just by existing. Say to yourself, I am grateful for them.
Take some time to appreciate yourself and the incredible power you have to create your own life just how you dream it, that you are capable of great things and that you have the ability to transform your life and the lives of others through your awareness and gratitude.
Say to yourself, I am grateful to be me.
There are so many benefits to taking the time for this practice. Remember to love and appreciate yourself enough to take the time to be grateful for all the incredible things in your life and in the world beyond. With time and practice you can allow gratitude into your life to become a default state of being, with far reaching positive effects.