Of course the practice of being grateful is not a new concept. In Jack Kornfield’s website, it says:
Buddhist monks begin each day with a chant of gratitude for the blessings of their life. Native American elders begin each ceremony with grateful prayers to mother earth and father sky, to the four directions, to the animal, plant, and mineral brothers and sisters who share our earth and support our life. In Tibet, the monks and nuns even offer prayers of gratitude for the suffering they have been given: “Grant that I might have enough suffering to awaken in the deepest possible compassion and wisdom.”
When we were kids, we were probably taught to pray (to whomever) and likely in the prayer you would be taught how to say thank you for what you have. Maybe you still carry that practice once you’re an adult but for me, unfortunately, I wasn’t being grateful as often as I should.
Gratitude meditation is a type of meditation which, as the name suggests, focuses on gratitude. While some people might think of meditation along the lines of sitting still in a dark room and clearing your mind, gratitude meditation can be practiced in many different settings. One might practice gratitude meditation while they wait for their MRT to arrive, for example.
I started doing a gratitude meditation last year. I sat in my room and started to say thank you for these things below:
- For being alive and breathing and to be where I was (physically and metaphorically)
- For things that happened in my life lately (whether it’s good or bad – taught a lesson)
- For my loved ones, those who are still here and that have departed
- For myself, my body, my mind, my soul. I even went to saying thank you on my body organ from the top of my head to the tip of my toes. (How many times have you thanked your eyes, liver, knee joints?)
I remember I found myself smiling when I opened my eyes. I felt so happy, calm and light, yet powerful. After couple months I even added another exercise which is a gratitude journal. I had this mini pocketbook that I used as my gratitude journal. So everyday at the end of the day, I will put at least one thing that I am grateful for. I usually do this when I’m in bed and about to turn off the light. At the end of 2016, I looked back at my journal and I was so humbled and touched because there were so many people around me that made me feel thankful in 2016. Even when I had a broken heart. 😉
There are so many things in our lives that we can be thankful for but sometimes we overlooked them and took them for granted. Sometimes we are so blinded with what we think we should have and when we got it, we think it’s because we deserve it therefore we didn’t say thank you for it. We should also be grateful for the bad things that happened in our lives, since there are things in your life which might initially seem bad, but upon further reflection actually give you an opportunity to learn and grow. Part of gratitude is recognizing there’s a blessing in all things.
There are a lot of research that have proven gratitude meditation is beneficial. Some of those benefits are:
- Decreased levels of depression (Sirois, 2017: Gratitude Uniquely Predicts Lower Depression in Chronic Illness Populations)
- Higher levels of well-being (Nezlek, 2017: A daily diary study of relationships between feelings of gratitude and well-being)
- 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)
- And even increased sleep quality (Jackowska, 2016: The impact of a brief gratitude intervention on subjective well-being, biology and sleep)
After observing your gratitudes, you’ll realize how blessed you are and life isn’t so unfair after all. So reflect on all the blessings around you from the tiniest to the grandest and say thank you.
Thank you. I am grateful. Om Shanti Shanti Shanti.
Krisianto Gondohutomo – YTT200 – Sep 2017
Image credit: Eric Klein