The research is in and the verdict is consistent: gratitude has numerous benefits. It reduces anxiety, improves relationships, increases the reported experiences of happiness, etc. But you don't have to trust the research, the best way to know if gratitude would be a valuable addition to your life is to try it! This week I have included a mindfulness exercise for practicing the skill of gratitude:
Gratitude Mindfulness Meditation
Close your eyes or bring them gently to the floor, whatever feels most comfortable to you. Relax your face and shoulders and settle into the position in which you are seated. Take two long, deep breaths, and release that air out into the room. Use this air to allow stability and relaxation into your body and into the position in which you are seated.
Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale
As you begin to come into this place of slowness and relaxation, thank yourself for making this space and taking this time.
Begin by considering the easiest thing for you to be thankful for right now: For example, I’m thankful that I’m able to breathe.
Now, think of anything in your health for which you are grateful. Even if you don’t feel that you are healthy, set those concerns aside for now and be grateful for anything at all that you appreciate about your health.
Now, think of your family and friends and whatever relationships in your life you value. Be grateful for these individuals, who they are, and the love they show to you. Imagine thanking them for the impact they have on you and in your daily life.
Now, consider your shelter, wherever you sleep. What it is that covers your head and whatever it is that protects you from wind and rain. Take some time to meditate on your thankfulness for this place – ideal or otherwise – that keeps you safe and warm and protected. Say thank you for this shelter. Allow yourself to rest in the feeling of thankfulness for a roof and for walls.
Now, take some time to consider your gifts and talents. Things that make you feel proud and unique and passionate. Give thanks for the things that you are good at and the things you enjoy doing. Say to yourself “I am grateful for all of my gifts and all of my talents.”
With these last deep mindful breaths, imagine breathing in this sense of gratitude that you have practiced throughout the mindfulness exercise. Remember this feeling. What it feels like in the body, in the mind, and in the soul to breathe in this gratefulness deeply and wholly.
When you are ready, bring your awareness back into the room.