Meditation and mindfulness are essential aspects to finding gratitude in your daily life. If you aren’t familiar with the practice of meditation, these exercises may be a bit challenging.
If your thoughts begin to wander, or your mind goes into judgment and questioning mode, that’s alright, merely redirect your attention to the practice at hand. It is essential that you be gentle with yourself. There is no right or wrong way to do these exercises.
You need to begin this practice by sitting quietly in a comfortable chair. If you are comfortable with shutting your eyes, do it. If not, you can merely soften your gaze to the floor approximately three feet in front of you.
Quiet your mind and gently bring your attention and focus to your breathing. Take a deep breath through your nose and breathe into your heart. Try to visualize your heart filled with a soft, radiating, violet light.
As you breathe in, visualize a soft, pink light filling your heart, gently combining with the violet light that fills the space in your chest cavity.
As you exhale through your mouth, visualize a soft blue light moving from the violet light, and up through your body as you gently expel your breath through your mouth.
With each in-breath, say gently to yourself, “I am filled with gratitude.” With each out breath, say to yourself, “I offer gratitude to the universe.” Continue this cycle for four minutes. When you have completed the time, gently open your eyes, or raise them from the floor.
Gratitude Meditation Journaling
For this exercise, you’ll need to grab you favorite notebook or journal and if you don’t have one, may we suggest My Meditation Journal to keep by your bedside.
Each evening, prior to going to sleep, sit quietly and bring your attention to your breath, keeping your head relaxed.
If you are comfortable, close your eyes or soften your gaze at a fixed point on the ground about four feet in front of you.
Take a few deep breaths, paying attention to the inhale and exhale.
Think through the events of your day. Visualize those events as they occurred, be sure to pay close attention to moments that contained acts of kindness, laughter, or beauty. As you notice these occurrences, pay attention to how your body feels. Pay attention to the sensations that you are feeling. What kind of thoughts arise in your mind?
When you’ve completed reviewing your day, gently bring your attention back to your breath. Open your eyes and write down the observations in your journal. For other journal ideas, please check out the journals on the home page.
Start noticing the things that occur each day for which you are grateful. These things can be big or small; it doesn’t matter. The magnitude of what you are identifying isn’t essential, but instead that you are noticing things that you can appreciate about the day. You may be grateful for a person, for opportunities that were presented to you, for a good cup of coffee or tea, or perhaps that the day has come to a close and you are now preparing to lie in your bed and rest your head on your favorite pillow.
Every night, before you go to sleep, write down the things that you were grateful for throughout your day. Again, these can be big or small; it doesn’t matter. Write down at least three things every day and once a week, sit down and review your journal entries.
Even in the busiest of days, there are small moments where you can practice gratitude. Take a moment, two or three times a day, to slow down and bring your full attention to your breathing.
Notice each breath. Observe every inhale and exhale, noticing that at that moment you don’t have to do anything but breathe. Once your breath has your full attention, silently say the words “thank you” on each of the next five to eight exhalations as a gentle reminder that right now, at this moment, you’re okay. These silent “thank yous” can serve as a quick reminder of the gift of your breath and how lucky you are to be alive.
Do this practice at least three times per week.
It is extremely easy to forget something, especially when you are trying to form a new habit. Placing visual reminders around your home or workspace can help you stay on track with your goals.
Create reminders that will prompt you throughout the day to think about gratitude, or merely to pause and reflect. Here are some ideas for your gratitude reminders. Carry a small stone in your pocket. When you notice the rock, pause for a moment and reflect on gratitude.
Place a note on your office wall, refrigerator at home, or bathroom mirror that says, “I am grateful.”
Set the alarm on your phone to go off one or more times a day as a cue to pause and reflect on gratitude.
Schedule a five-minute “gratitude break” in your office calendar two or three times each week. Use the calendar reminder feature to help keep you on track.
Have a “gratitude partner,” someone with whom you check in daily to help identify aspects of gratitude in the day.
Family Gratitude Practice
You don’t need to practice gratitude alone. Gratitude is, after all, about relationships and exchange. You can create an attitude of gratitude within your home as a family activity.
Keep a gratitude list for your family.
Place a whiteboard or sheet of paper on the refrigerator or some other easy-to-find location and have everyone in the family add to it daily. Things on the list can be big or small; it doesn’t matter.
Choose one day a week to share the list together at a shared meal.
Create a new list each week.
There is always an opportunity for you to express your appreciation and gratitude, even if years have passed. Reflecting on those who have helped you in the past or present, and writing this down, can be a powerful means of cultivating gratitude.
Think of someone in your life for whom you feel grateful, but haven’t yet thanked. Write a letter to this person expressing your appreciation for them. Let them know how they have affected your life. If possible, deliver the letter in person and read it to them before giving it to them.
Like the gratitude letter, the thank-you note is a compelling expression of gratitude. It allows you, as the recipient, an opportunity to savor the gift/benefit, and allows the person who gave you something the opportunity to feel recognized and appreciated.
Keep a box of thank you notes around and get in the habit of writing thank you notes. Write them for the unexpected, for someone who said something kind to you or helped you out when you needed it. Just give thanks even it is to yourself for showing up every day.