Mindfulness Activity #170
Gratitude for Today
Good Morning. Today’s practice is about gratitude. We are most aware of being grateful when someone provides something we are really desperate for. One day, while I was in high school, I got a flat tire. No cell phones back then, so there I was on the side of a rural road. As I sat there trying to figure out what to do, my high school’s cross country team came running by. They stopped and changed it for me. I was beyond grateful. Research has shown that gratitude makes us happier. It changes our brain and generates positive feelings and decreases worry.
The thing is though that often we are not in a desperate situation and we forget to pay attention to things, and we forget to be grateful for things we appreciate—not because there are not things to be grateful for, but because we aren’t attuned to them. Gratitude is a habit that needs to be cultivated. Using mindfulness to observe and describe things you see or experience and then noting those you are most grateful for is a life habit that makes for a better life. Try it today.
Our practice today has no chimes and no relaxing music or sounds. It is a quiet practice. You can sit or recline. Begin with a deep breath. Repeat in your mind the following phrase:
My heart is beating. My body is breathing. I am here. I accept today as a gift.
Inhale deeply, noticing the moment your lungs are full, and then exhale. On your next inhale consider the oxygen being brought into your body and to each of your organs to keep you alive. See if you can connect to this oxygen as you breathe in and out. Consider the chair or the floor where you sit. It is solid and supports you. Feel that in the present moment, oxygen and a place to sit are all that you need. Continue to breathe in and out.
Now, take a moment to reflect on any of the things in your life that you are thankful for. Think about basic things like food, a place to rest in the evening, your physical capabilities, your mind, your capacity to care for others, your ability to make choices and change if you wish to. Think about people in your life you are thankful for (whether you know them or you do not—I’m thankful for Dr. Faucci). If you like, you can make a list of blessings. For each blessing you think of, say to yourself, “I am grateful for…” and take a breath in and out before moving to something else. If you get distracted or judgmental, just take a new breath, and gently prod yourself to find something you actually appreciate. Do this reset as many times as you need to.
When your practice is concluded, process it for a moment. How did it make you feel? What did you notice? The idea of practices like this is not only the brief warm feelings that they generate, rather it is to develop in yourself a moment to moment noticing of things you are grateful for. This creates a balance to many negative things in the world we are primed to notice.
So, today, I am grateful for the sunshine and the beautiful weather. I am grateful for friends and family.
I am grateful for the extra weekend day!