Meditation is a proven way to reduce stress; gratitude is a proven way to increase happiness. What do you get when you put them together? A supercharged strategy to start your holiday season off in the right mindset. So for our fourth article in our series, we’re giving you a free and short gratitude meditation. This guided gratitude meditation is all about appreciating what you have and savoring that feeling for a little peace in the most hectic moments of the holidays.
Miss our first three gratitude articles? Get caught up here:
A Gratitude Meditation For Your Busy Holiday Season
To try it, get comfortable and follow along with our meditation teacher and psychotherapist, Grace Fisher, for a gratitude meditation that’ll foster those thankful feelings. And don’t worry—we know you’re busy. That’s why this meditation is short, as in under eight minutes. After all, there’s pie to eat, and we don’t believe in keeping people from pie.
Gratitude Meditation Script
Not into videos? Here’s a simple gratitude meditation script so you can follow along no matter where you are.
Step 1: Check in with your body
Let yourself get comfortable. Take a moment to see how your body is doing, noticing where there’s tension. Let yourself scan the body, seeing where you can release some tension and where you can’t.
This practice is inspired by teachings of the Vietnamese Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh. Keeping your attention in the body, now scan for places that feel relaxed—maybe it’s your forearm, your throat, or your right foot. It can be some small part of your body.
If your body feels so tight you can’t find a place, just imagine it. What if your right hand felt relaxed? Or your belly? What’s it like to be aware of this sensation of being relaxed. Does it feel good? Can you imagine it feeling good?
Let yourself hang out here, for this gratitude meditation is grounded in the body.
Stay with the sensation, real or imagined, of being relaxed, at ease.
Step 2: Appreciate what you don’t have
Thich Nhat Hanh’s meditation is often called the “no toothache meditation”. At this moment, I don’t have a toothache; I don’t have a migraine. We might sometimes find ourselves be so stressed out and harried, we can check in and say, “Okay, at least in this moment, I don’t have a toothache.”
Can you feel a sense of relief, of gratitude for not having a toothache? Not having a migraine or broken leg? And if, in this moment, you do have a toothache or a migraine or a broken leg, aren’t you glad you don’t all have three at the same time? Can we playfully widen our attention to include that which is positive? And recognize that sometimes things are positive by their absence—no toothache, no migraine, no broken limbs.
A useful mantra can be:
In this moment…
I don’t have a toothache; my arm is relaxed.
I can breathe in, and I can breath out.
I am alive.
Step 3: Take in something beautiful
Now let your attention widen beyond the body, open your eyes, take in the room or the world around you. Let your attention find and rest upon one beautiful thing. Maybe it’s a certain color or shape or a design. It could be the play of the light around you. It doesn’t need to be anything big or majestic.
Let go of any negative thoughts about what’s not beautiful or how something might be beautiful if only—and focus your attention on noticing the beautiful. What are you noticing? How do you feel as you take in this beauty, however small it may be? Can you hang out with this sense of appreciation for it?
This can become its own practice, a way to move in the world. To take in what is beautiful in this moment. Maybe it’s the sunlight on the hills or the sound of laughter. Or appreciating that the bus or train you took to work came on time or that your car started. This invitation to notice the beautiful, the positive, becomes a moving meditation in its own right. A way of rewiring the brain to take in the beauty and the wonder of the world around us, in this very moment, amidst all the darkness and all the challenges we face.
Step 4: Reflect on kindness
I want to expand this one more time, and ask you to consider any acts of kindness you’ve received today or in the last few days. Something as simple as a receiving a smile or someone holding a door open. Let yourself scan the day, the last few days, for some random acts of kindness. What do you notice? How do you feel when you take it in?
And now consider your own actions: What acts, however small, intentional or random, have you offered to someone else today, yesterday, or any other day?
Step 5: Bring kindness and appreciation into your day
This, too, is a practice that’s helpful to sit with and reflect upon. And it’s really helpful as a mind training to take it out in the world. Can you start to look for and appreciate small and large acts of kindness? Can you appreciate the beauty around you, in large and small measures? To take in it, and offer it out?
We can all benefit from more noticing beauty, and we can all benefit from noticing kindness. And the world will certainly benefit from our sharing both.
Your turn: Have you ever tried a gratitude meditation? Did you try out ours? Share more about how you reflect on the good in the comments below.
To take your gratitude meditation to the next level, read up on how to use the power of kindness in your day-to-day life.
Grace Fisher, psychotherapist and meditation teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Northern California, has been teaching meditation for nearly 15 years.
Author: Chelsey Taylor
Chelsey likes words, especially adjectives, and has been perfecting her perfectionism since infancy. She’s an endorphin-gatherer, top-knot connoisseur, and content manager at Panda Planner.