When you practice gratitude meditation below you will start to feel super positive about… well, pretty much everything actually.
Meditation means focusing the mind, and gratitude, of course refers to thankfulness and appreciation.
But gratitude goes beyond that.
As Certified Meditation Teacher Hope Zvara explains, gratitude is about so much more:
“When you look up the definition it talks about kindness, but to me what is most important is gratitude is the act in which we “return” kindness.
Gratitude is what keeps the cycle of kindness going. It not only returns the favor to the giver of kindness, but it can transfer it to the next in line. It makes me think of the concept of Random Acts of Kindness, which are really gifts to someone new in the form of kindness that one was shown from another. Gratitude keeps us in that cycle of kindness towards one another. And when we step out of that cycle that is typically when you see people start to only think of themselves. Where the mountains in their own lives get too high to see over or even look back from and kindly help another up. — Hope Zvara.
Gratitude is arguably the number one trait of positive people. It is one of the main types of happiness.
Gratitude makes you happy, makes you glad, and is basically a big rainbow rising over your life.
Focusing our thoughts on gratitude during meditation means creating automatic thoughts geared towards a positive open mindset. In a world filled with automatic negative thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, it’s more important than ever before to have an attitude of gratitude.
–Gina Ramirez, a Certified Health Coach, Professional Licensed Counselor, and Worksite Wellness Specialist
Why Practise Gratitude Meditation? (Benefits)
Gratitude feels great. That’s definitely true. I personally love nothing more than getting the day off to a good start by meditating on gratitude in the morning.
But did you know that gratitude is so important it can even stop depression, anxiety, stress, and many other problems that we face in life?
That’s why I personally practise gratitude meditation every day! (see below)
And there are specific meditations for gratitude that will very quickly inject some thankfulness and happiness into your life.
“You have no cause for anything but gratitude and joy–Buddha”
Science has proven that along with hope and positivity, gratitude is one of the most important character traits we can possess.
Just look at this huge list of benefits of gratitude meditation.
- More positive feelings
- Higher resilience
- Less envy
- Happier memories
- Less materialism
- Less self centred
- More optimistic
- Higher self esteem
- Better sleep
- Less sick days
- Heightened longevity
- Increase energy
- Motivates us to exercise
- Makes us more social
- Improves marriage
- Reduces divorces
- Makes us kinder
- Improves relationships
- Improves interpersonal connection
- Improves personal management
- Improves networking
- Improves goal achievements
- Improves decision making
- Increases productivity [source]
These are the benefits of gratitude meditation that have been proven by science. But long before science, there was religion and spirituality.
“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.–Lincoln”
Gratitude Meditation From Joy Rains
Meditation teacher and author Joy Rains recommends the following meditation for gratitude:
Gratitude Practice helps to cultivate gratitude within you. Practice for as little as 1 or 2 minutes to 20 minutes or longer. Sit in a comfortable position, away from distractions. Gently lower your eyelids to a soft gaze, or a full close.
Bring your awareness to your breath. Any time your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to your breathing. Spend as long as you’d like on this first part of the practice. When you feel ready, imagine a time when you felt gratitude towards another living being—perhaps a loved one, a pet, a stranger who offered you a small kindness, or even the trees that grace this earth. Imagine the feelings of gratitude welling up in you. Now, imagine sending these feelings of gratitude outward. What does it feel like to send out gratitude? Take a couple of minutes to become aware of any images, sensations, or feelings in your body and mind as you send these feelings outward.
Next, imagine a time when you felt gratitude being directed towards you, by a parent, a child, a friend, a teacher, a pet or an animal, or perhaps by a stranger smiling warmly. You could even imagine receiving gratitude from the subject in a photo or painting who offers a loving gaze outward into the world. Imagine what it feels like to receive gratitude. Take a couple of minutes to become aware of any images, sensations, or feelings in your body and mind as you receive the feelings of gratitude.
Now, come back to an awareness of your breath. Try to notice the feelings of gratitude with each inhale and exhale, receiving gratitude on the inhale and sending out gratitude on the exhale. Any time your mind wanders, gently bring it back to your breath moving in and out of your body—and to sending and receiving gratitude. Continue with this practice for the rest of your meditation period.
Buddha On Gratitude
Buddha taught that gratitude meditation is one of the most important things in life. He said that a human birth is rarer than the chance that a tiny turtle in the big ocean would ever poke its head through a tiny hoop.
He instructed the monks to sit at the base of a tree in the heart of the forest and practice what he called “Gladdening the heart”.
Monks would do this by reflecting on the positive and good that has happened to them, and particularly to reflect on how fortunate they were to have found the dharma.
The Buddhist way of meditating on gratitude is to be mindful of all the favorable things that have happened to us. Mindfulness of gratitude, Buddha taught, connects us to the broader experience of life and increases connectivity and oneness.
Many people make a common mistake of thinking that it is unrealistic to meditate on gratitude because there are so many negatives in life.
However, Lao Tzu said the quote below:
“Correct your mind and the rest of your life will fall into place”.
The reason the mind needs correcting is because we dwell on negative thoughts.
The human brain is prone to negativity bias, whereby we focus on the negative more than on the positive. We balance this out with gratitude meditation, in which we focus on the positive. It is the act of titrating the bad with the good that creates positive changes in the mind.
Many people have asked me for advice after the death of a loved on. I find it challenging to say, “be grateful’, because someone has died. But the fact is that we are already dwelling on the negative, and gratitude meditation helps us to balance out the negativity with positivity.
The bible agrees with this.
Thessalonians 5:15–18 says:
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God.”
The Sufi poet Rumi expressed gratitude in his poem The Guest House:
The Guest House—Rumi (A Gratitude Poem)
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
— Jellaludin Rumi,
Use This Gratitude Meditation And You’ll Feel… Magical!
Below, I’ve shared my “Attitude of Gratitude” meditation. It will do wonders for you.
One thing that may surprise you about these mindful-gratitude techniques is that they don’t just focus on the positive. They intentionally bring to mind the negative.
It is important to connect negatives with positives in order to get a healthy perspective on life. The ultimate goal is to be thankful for experiences that we may generally consider negative, because in truth we should be thankful for the fullness of existence.
In Buddhist temples that I have visited, there is a prayer that goes like this:
“May I be given the appropriate difficulties so that my heart can truly open with compassion.”
This attitude-of-gratitude meditation is based on that prayer.
- Sit comfortably with good posture
- Take 5 deep breaths through you nose
- Softly bring to mind one thing you view as unfortunate
- Remind yourself of why it is unfortunate
- Mindfully observe the negative feeling associate with the circumstance
- Take 5 relaxing breaths
- Say to yourself, “Yes, this is unfortunate”
- Now find five things about the situation that are actually good
- Mindfully observe the positive emotions
- Now say, “I am grateful for the fullness of existence”
- Spend a few moments contemplating on how good and bad exist in harmony.
- Express thanks for the fullness of existence
The next step in our “attitude of gratitude meditation” is to take a long walk (yay, who doesn’t love a good walk?)
- On our walk we will be consciously observing all the things we are thankful for.
- Here’s how
- Choose somewhere beautiful to walk
- Take ten minute just generally walking and relaxing
- Be mindful of your environment. Be mindful of the trees, of other people, of animals, of everything
- Each time you notice something you like, say “I am grateful for [what it is] because [reason]”. For instance, “I am grateful for the bird song, which reconnects me with nature”