November is the month of gratitude! It’s the perfect excuse to sit down, take a deep breath, and reflect on what you’re grateful for.
Performing this simple act of thankfulness is a form of meditation known as gratitude meditation. Reflecting on people and events that make your life brighter does more than just put a smile on your face – it’s also a great way to practice mindfulness.
For inspiration, we asked meditation instructors in New York City to share some of their favorite meditations to foster gratefulness. Embrace the season of appreciation with these two easy, do-anywhere gratitude meditations:
1. Gratitude Visualization Meditation
by Erica Sergott of Be Time Practice
Gratitude begins by recognizing all that we have available to us in the present moment experience.
A good exercise to prep for your gratitude meditation is to write down all that you’re grateful for in the different areas of your life:
This transfer from mind to paper shifts our minds away from limiting or looping storylines, and initiates a practice that is not only conceptual but also experiential.
Once you’ve got your gratitude list, practice visualizing one of the items. Bring it to mind and try to experience it with all five of your senses.
“Write down all that you’re grateful for in the different areas of your life: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual… practice visualizing one of the items. Bring it to mind and try to experience it with all five of your senses.”
Now, see if you can identify where you feel that gratitude in your body. Is there a particular area like your stomach or your heart where you feel sensation when you do this practice? Is there a specific sensation like warmth or calm in that area of your body?
Once you recognize how gratitude manifests within your body, invite that sensation to expand throughout your entire body so your whole being is embraced with nurturing feeling of gratitude.
Now that you’ve got all the good gratitude vibes flowing feel free to boost the appreciation by repeating the mantra ‘happy, thank you, more please.’
“Boost the appreciation by repeating the mantra “happy, thank you, more please.”
Erica Sergott is a mindfulness coach and meditation instructor at Be Time , a mobile meditation studio in NYC.
2. Simple, Accessible Gratitude Meditation
by Jere Davis of Sky Ting Yoga
“I inhale for a count of four, and then exhale for an equal count of four. I am mindful to fill up deep from the low belly up to the heart, and then exhale the breath without effort.
After a few cycles of following this equalizing and clearing breath, I make a gratitude list my my head (or out loud).
I don’t use sentences – I just list.
Thankful for: The trees, the ground, myself, my family, for the birds, the bed I’m laying on, the laugh I had with my friend earlier, for the sadness I feel, for the journey that I’m on, etc. As I list, I try to visualize what I’m saying.
I like this mediation because it can be done anywhere – you don’t have to be in a meditative seat. I make my list on the subway, as I wait in line at the grocery store, as I lay in savasana.
It’s helpful to have the reminders not only in happy times but in moments of frustration as well.”
Photo courtesy of Sky Ting, a yoga and meditation studio in New York City.
3. Short Gratitude Meditation
by Lodro Rinzler of MNDFL
Take a moment to come into your body, feeling the physical sensation of the breath.
After a few minutes, ask yourself, ‘What am I grateful for today?’
Notice what answers arise from within you. It could be a person in your life who has shown you great kindness, or the fact that you have a roof over your head, or that you can move your body.
Whatever arises, acknowledge it then come back to the question again and again.
At the end, let the words fall away and just notice how you are feeling. Rest in any gratitude that may have arisen.
“Ask yourself, ‘What am I grateful for today?’ It could be a person in your life who has shown you great kindness, or the fact that you have a roof over your head.”
Photo courtesy of MNDFL, a meditation studio in New York City.
You can incorporate mindful appreciation into any of your current practices, such as swimming, yoga, gardening, walking, and even dedicated breathing. Small acts like these can lead you towards greater empathy for yourself, and others.
Want to get into the habit of meditating? A therapist versed in mindfulness practices can help you get started. Visit Zencare.co to book the right therapist for you!