This guided gratitude practice can help us open up to joy and appreciation, even when things don’t go according to plan.
When things don’t go according to plan it becomes easier to focus on what’s wrong and minimize what’s right. This mindful gratitude practice is designed to change that; its aim is to amplify the experience of optimism and studies show that this simple shift leads to enhanced mood and better relationships. This exercise is adapted from Start Here: Master the Lifelong Habit of Wellbeing by Eric Langshur and Nate Klemp, and is led by mindfulness coach Priti Patel.
A 12-Minute Meditation to Notice, Shift, Rewire
Audio recorded by Priti Patel.
1. Begin by finding a comfortable seat, your eyes can either be closed or open with a soft gaze for this practice. Be sure that you’re sitting comfortably and to the best of your ability, see if you can sit with a straight spine. To find that perfect point of balance, you might sway back and forth as well as side to side until you find your ideal seat. Feel your body settle.
2. Now, take a few slow breaths. Let go of any attempt to control or shape the breath. Let it move in and out naturally. Allow yourself to relax and let go of any tension or stress. Feel a sense of relaxed alertness, grounded yet present.
3. Start by noticing. Notice your current state of mind. What’s the current tone of mood? How are you feeling right now in this moment? See if you can simply notice with no judgments of good or bad.
4. Now, let’s shift by taking an inventory of all that you have in your life to be grateful for. Feel gratitude for the people and circumstances that led you to this moment here today. Offer gratitude to your parents and your grandparents. Feel gratitude for the opportunities you’ve had in life, education, travel and work experience.
5. Consider the health of your mind and body. Offer gratitude for the health of your body. Feel grateful for your mind and intellect. Feel your appreciation for the talents and skills you have. Now, consider your gratitude for the people in your life. Offer your gratitude to your immediate family members. Feel gratitude for your extended family. Feel appreciation for your coworkers and friends. Extend gratitude toward the mentors in your life who helped you grow into the person you are today.
6. Now, consider your gratitude for the earth. For water. Food. And the air that you breathe in every single day. And now, simply choose the one thing that you feel most grateful for in this moment. Relax every muscle in your body.
7. Let’s go deeper into the experience of gratitude through a short visualization. Begin by bringing to mind someone in your life who you care for deeply. A parent. A spouse. A child. Or a close friend. Imagine them in your mind’s eye. And recall a moment when you felt a particularly strong sense of connection with this person. This moment could be recent or in the distant past. Allow your mind to go back to this sacred moment of connection. Remember where you were. Picture the scene, the location, the people, the time of day, anything else that you see.
8. See if you can go back to what you were feeling in that moment. Love presence, contentment, or true connection. Notice any sensations or emotions that arise in your mind and body. And see if you can let go of any judgments. Good or bad. Try not to analyze. Simply allowing whatever you are feeling to come and go.
9. Focus on one aspect of this moment that you feel particularly grateful for. The person. The setting. Your emotional state. And let this experience of gratitude flood your entire mind and body. Take just a few more breaths. Continue to focus on this one quality of gratitude.
10. Let’s rewire the benefits of this practice. Savor this experience of gratitude for just 15 seconds. Really let it sink in. When you’re ready, open your eyes fully. Slowly come back into the room. Move any parts of your body that might feel stiff.
11. And as you go through the rest of your day, consider expressing your appreciation for the person you chose in this practice, it could be a text, an email, a card, or simply a mental wish for them. Then notice how this expression of gratitude changes your day.
This practice is adapted from Start Here: Master the Lifelong Habit of Wellbeing by Eric Langshur and Nate Klemp.
We can uncover the wisdom of gratitude by noticing small things to be grateful for, then opening our awareness to the truth that everything and everyone—no matter how small—is interconnected.