In today’s meditation session, I’m going to share with you my best gratitude meditation script and its benefits. As a meditation teacher, I’ve used this gratitude meditation script with many of my students, and they all say the same thing: It makes them incredibly happy and glad to be alive. Plus, given the numerous health benefits of gratitude and meditation, this gratitude meditation script will do wonders for your mind and body.
Let’s get started.
Gratitude Meditation Script [15 minute session]
This script is largely based on Buddhist Loving Kindness Meditation, which I recommend you do next.
1: Start by relaxing.
Before we get into the proper gratitude meditation script, it is important to take a few moments just to relax. You want to make sure that you are calm and focused before you start your meditation. One good way to do this is with a few mindful stretches. Or you could listen to some calming music to quieten your mind so that when you contemplate gratitude you will be able to focus.
When you are relaxed, sit with good posture. Position your feet shoulder-width apart and firmly planted on the floor. Let your spine be straight but relaxed. Let your shoulders move outwards a little to expand your chest area. Tuck your chin down a little to elongate your neck.
2: Close your eyes and breathe for five minutes:
It’s important to focus your mind before you start thinking about gratitude. That way, you won’t be affected by unwanted thoughts and feelings. Breathe through your nose, focusing your mind on the sensation of your breath moving between your nostrils. Take at least 25 breaths in this way. You will now be calm and focused—time to begin our gratitude meditation practice.
While deep breathing you are activating your parasympathetic nervous system to promote feelings of wellness [Shu-Zhen Wang, Sha Li, Xiao-Yang Xu, Gui-Ping Lin, Li Shao, Yan Zhao, and Ting Huai Wang. Effect of slow abdominal breathing combined with biofeedback on blood pressure and heart rate variability in prehypertension. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. October 2010, 16(10): 1039-1045. doi: 10.1089/acm.2009.0577]
3: To meditate on gratitude, start with the people you love.
You are likely already very thankful for the people you love. Bring to mind these people. Start with one person you truly love. I like to start with my mom. Now say the mantra, “I am grateful for you for being in my life.” While you say this mantra, think of one specific time that you were truly grateful for this person. Visualize the thing they did that made you happy. You should notice a feeling of gladness in your soul. Be aware of that feeling. Then proceed to someone else who is close to you, repeat the mantra, think of the time you were thankful, and meditate on it.
To give one example. I like to think of my mom, who often comes to visit me in Canada (I live in Canada, and she lives in England). I visualize hugging her when she arrives. This makes me feel very glad. I then meditate on that feeling of gladness.
One of the benefits of gratitude meditation is that it helps to make us happy and to reduce feelings of sadness and depression [(Sirois, 2017: Gratitude Uniquely Predicts Lower Depression in Chronic Illness Populations)]. You will notice this at this stage of the meditation.
4: Be grateful for your acquaintances:
The next step is to be grateful for people whom we feel neutral about (we don’t like them or dislike them). The reason this is important is that it makes us grateful for people in general.
Bring to mind one person who is an acquaintance but not someone you are particularly close to nor someone you dislike. Now bring to mind one thing this person does that makes you feel grateful. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. It could be something mundane.
For instance, one of my acquaintances is the woman who works in the convenience store I always go to. She always smiles in the most pleasant way. And for that, I am grateful. So I bring that to mind. I imagine her smiling at me. I then repeat the gratitude mantra, “I am grateful to have you in my life”. And again, observe the warm feeling of gladness in your heart. When I do this, I always feel a higher level of wellness, which is another benefit of gratitude meditation (Nezlek, 2017: A daily diary study of relationships between feelings of gratitude and well-being)
5: Now be grateful for challenging people:
This step of our gratitude meditation script may seem a little strange at first, but it is very important part of the practice. You want to bring to mind people you struggle to get along with. Then bring to mind one thing for which you are grateful for them. And again, repeat the gratitude mantra, “I am grateful to have you in my life.”
This might sound tricky, so I will give an example. I am not particularly grateful for my neighbours, who spend half the day shouting at one another. However, I am very grateful that they are always polite and friendly to me. So I meditate on that. This makes me feel more grateful for them, and more tolerant of their shortcomings.
The reason this step is important is that it challenges us to see difficult people in a positive light. You’re challenging your distrust and dislike of people. You’re taking negative feelings and turning them to positives. This is one reason why gratitude meditation helps to reduce feelings of distrust in strangers (Drążkowski, 2017: Gratitude pays: A weekly gratitude intervention influences monetary decisions, physiological responses, and emotional experiences during a trust-related social interaction).
6: Gratitude for self:
This is arguably the most important part of our gratitude meditation script. You want to be grateful for yourself. You do this using the same process as before. Think of one thing about yourself that makes you truly grateful to be the person you are. Now say the gratitude mantra, “I am grateful for myself.” And again, take a moment to meditate on the emotion of gratitude.
Self-gratitude is incredibly important. It helps to increase self-esteem and to improve self-love, which is vital for overall wellbeing.
One of the most important benefits of gratitude meditation is that it makes us value our lives more, and the biggest part of valuing your life is valuing yourself.
7: Gratitude for nature:
Now that we have meditated on gratitude for people, we want to finish by being grateful for nature. If you’re like me, you probably think nature is the most precious thing in the world. So it won’t be hard to feel grateful for nature!
One by one, bring to mind the various aspects of nature that make you feel grateful. Perhaps it’s blue skies, or tall trees, or the sound of birdsong, or the feeling of damp grass on your bare feet. Bring those things to mind, and each time you bring something to mind, repeat the mantra, “I am grateful to have this in my life.”
8: Finish with the breath
To finish our gratitude meditation practice, take a few relaxing breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. You’re done!
That is my best gratitude meditation script. Next, you might like to read my guide to meditation for happiness.
In this script, we have learned to be grateful for the people in our lives, and even grateful for people who sometimes annoy us. This naturally makes us much happier, and even increases our patience and tolerance for people’s shortcomings. We’ve also expressed gratitude for nature, making us appreciate the natural world even more.
If you followed my gratitude meditation script, I would love to hear from you. How did it go? How did it make you feel? Write a comment and remember to subscribe.
Benefits of Gratitude Meditation
Dr. Kathi Kemper [executive director of the Ohio State University College of Medicine’s Center for Integrative Health and Wellness] says that gratitude can help to “promote a positive mood, hope, and resilience.”
Gratitude is an essential mental trait that is one of the defining characteristics of happiness according to Martin Seligman, the founder of Positive Psychology. Indeed, gratitude is so important that, as Jack Kornfield says, “Buddhist monks begin each day with a chant of gratitude for the blessings of their life.”
There are similar rituals in other cultures too. Native American elders have a ceremony that they perform in which they express gratitude to mother earth and father sky. And if you look through The Bible you will find countless references to gratitude. And one of the most popular trends of today is keeping a gratitude journal in which we write down all the things we feel thankful for from the day.
Naturally there are many benefits of gratitude meditation. Like other methods of meditating, the gratitude meditation script promotes parasympathetic nervous system activity to create feelings of wellness, while also reducing amygdala activity to reduce stress. However, the benefits of gratitude meditation go further than this.
For staters, the most obvious benefits of gratitude meditation is, well, gratitude. This is backed by scientific evidence in a study from 2016, [Rao, 2016: Online Training in Specific Meditation Practices Improves Gratitude, Well-Being, Self-Compassion, and Confidence in Providing Compassionate Care Among Health Professionals].
Other studies into the benefits of gratitude meditation include the following:
- It increases our trust in strangers (Drążkowski, 2017: Gratitude pays: A weekly gratitude intervention influences monetary decisions, physiological responses, and emotional experiences during a trust-related social interaction)
- It decreases depression [Sirois, 2017: Gratitude Uniquely Predicts Lower Depression in Chronic Illness Populations]
- It increases the quality of our sleep [Jackowska, 2016: The impact of a brief gratitude intervention on subjective well-being, biology, and sleep].
- Reduces risk of suicide [Stockton, 2016: How does gratitude affect the relationship between positive humor styles and suicide-related outcomes?, and Kleiman, 2013: Grateful individuals are not suicidal: Buffering risks associated with hopelessness and depressive symptoms]
For more on gratitude I highly recommend reading the website Gratefulness.org, the site of Robert A. Emmons, PhD, a leading expert on the science of gratitude.