Take some time to relax into the blessings of the season with this guided meditation on gratitude. As you put your attention on all that you have to be thankful for, you will connect to the happiness that is part of your inherent nature.
Gratitude is the natural theme of the autumn season. From making gratitude lists to sharing what you are grateful for at your Thanksgiving table, there are myriad ways you can express your thanks throughout the holidays. Yet gratitude starts from within. Before you can express your gratitude in an authentic way, it’s important to connect to all of the goodness in your life in your own heart first. Gratitude meditation can set your day on a new course and can place your entire life on a different trajectory. Try this gratitude meditation on your own or with others to feel your happiness expand during the season of thanks.
(In addition to the written instructions below, you can also listen to a guided video version here.)
Gratitude Meditation Script
Before you start, get settled into a comfortable position that will allow you to feel relaxed yet alert. You can sit on the floor or on a chair; just be sure to sit in a way that your spine can be long and upright. Try to eliminate any disruptions or distractions for the duration of the meditation.
- When you’re settled, take a deep and cleansing breath. As you exhale, soften your eyes. Close your eyes if you feel comfortable, or simply turn your gaze downward.
- Let’s begin by simply bringing your awareness to the breath as it is, without trying to change it. Can you notice if your inhale is longer than your exhale, or vice versa? Try counting the length of each in-breath and out-breath, noticing the rhythm with a sense of curiosity.
- Now begin to even out your inhalations and exhalations so that they are the same length. If your inhalations are longer (for example, five counts), start to lengthen your exhalations to five counts too. Spend a few rounds of breathing lengthening the shorter half of the breath to balance the longer half.
Gratitude to Your Senses
- Next, you will bring your attention to what you can hear. Without labeling the sounds, simply notice your ears’ ability to hear. Give thanks to your ears for working so well, and for allowing you to hear everything that makes up this moment. Thanks to your ears for letting you hear the voice of your beloved, your favorite song, and the birds singing outside.
- Now notice your sense of smell. Offer your appreciation to your nose and your olfactory system for letting you smell fresh baked cookies, your baby’s newly washed hair, and the unmistakable scent of a campfire. Without your nose, you couldn’t taste your favorite meals, or breathe in the ocean air, so give thanks for your ability to smell.
- To your taste buds, now offer your gratitude. To your tongue and mouth for letting you taste your favorite coffee drink and the array of food that nourishes your system. To your lips for kissing your partner or children or pets. Offer your heartfelt thanks to your sense of taste for letting you engage with all the flavors of the world.
- Now notice what you feel with your skin: the temperature of the air on the parts of you that are exposed, the texture of the clothing that is keeping you warm, the delightful sensations on your fingertips that let you feel the electricity in your heart when holding hands with your soulmate. To the skin that lets you feel the texture of sand at the beach, sense a breeze on your neck, and enjoy a good massage. To wrapping yourself in warm blankets when you’re cold, and stripping off clothing in front of a fan when you’re hot. Thanks to this skin for helping you feel your life.
- And now to your eyes. Keeping your eyes closed, can you send waves of gratitude to these magical eyes for letting you see the world around you? For making it possible to make eye contact with your best friend, to see the smiling face of your child, and the community you have chosen to surround yourself with. To your eyes, which let you see art, nature, and beauty in all its forms. To whatever degree your eyes let you see, thank them for all they do—for letting you take in the world around you through the windows of your soul.
- Take a deep breath and notice how you feel in your heart. Connect to a feeling of expansion in your chest, as you let yourself truly savor the full spectrum of your senses. Now let it go. Check back in with the balance of your inhales and exhales.
To the People in Your Life
- Next, bring to mind someone in your life who is easy to love. Picture this person sitting in front of you. See them smiling at you, and through your heart space, thank them for being in your life. As if wherever they were at this very moment, they could receive your gratitude, shower them with love, simply for existing.
- Now pick another person. Repeat this with as many people as you like, remembering that offering your gratitude to one person doesn’t take it away from anyone else. Just choose the first few people who are coming to your mind. Thank them for being in your life.
- Bring to mind someone who has made your life easier. Thank them for whatever they have done to help you out.
- Recall a teacher in your life. Someone who has shown you the way, in either a formal or informal way. Thank them with your heart for teaching you on this journey.
- Finally, send your love and gratitude to every single person you have encountered so far, or will encounter in this day. Thank them for making your day more interesting and richer.
- Take a deep breath and gather up all the people in your life into your heart. Hold them there for a moment, and then let the image of them go. Return to the balance of your breath.
To Your Material Possessions
- Now turn your attention to the possessions that have the most meaning for you. Give your thanks to the items you have, like special jewelry or relics, that have been passed down to you from family, or were given to you for a specific purpose, like a wedding ring. Thank your possessions that hold special meaning for you, offering appreciation for the memories they hold.
- Offer your thanks now to the home you live in, and all the amenities that help keep you safe, nourished, and healthy. To your comfortable bed, your fully functioning kitchen, and the running water in your bathrooms give thanks. To the walls that keep you warm in the cold weather, and the windows that open to cool you off when it’s hot. To the roof that protects you, say thank you.
- Now to your clothing, your shoes, and all the items you have been able to buy that keep you active and thriving in this world. The books, the tools, and electronics that allow you to connect with others, learn new skills, and broaden your horizons. Gratitude to the money you give and receive, your paycheck, your savings, your bills, and your abundance. Release any guilt or sense of shame about thanking your material possessions and instead truly appreciate them.
Gratitude to the Present Moment
- Take another deep breath, and connect to this moment. Open your eyes and look around you and offer your gratitude for everything in your presence that is holding space for you to be meditating right now. Give thanks to your circumstances and livelihood, which give you the chance to sit in stillness and be grateful. To your health and physical capabilities that make it possible to sit quietly and improve your outlook and well-being. To the silence, the calm, the life, the love, the tears, the joy, and everything in between—be grateful.
- With that, take a final deep breath, and smile. Bring your hands to your heart in a prayer shape, and seal your meditation with this gesture of respect and devotion. Notice how you feel, and set the intention to bring this gratitude forward into your day. Namaste.
*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; it does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chopra Center's Mind-Body Medical Group; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health programs.
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