Friday, September 9, 2011

gratitude meditation

in addition to conducting therapy, part of my job is also to lead the patients in meditation right before bedtime.  this is quite possibly my favorite part of the job - i've gotten so into it!  sometimes i use a prepared meditation, but often i just make it up as we go along.  one thing i always try to include, no matter what, is a component of shifting the focus toward an attitude of gratitude {it even rhymes!!}.  there's tons of research out there, both from scientists and religious organizations, which link cultivating a grateful heart to overcoming life's struggles and maintaining a greater sense of happiness.  and if anyone has ever made gratitude lists in the midst of a hard time, you know how powerful it can be {as opposed to just trying to be happy, which can make you even more upset}.


here's a sample guided meditation i wrote about gratitude:

sit in a quiet, comfort place and take several slow, deep breaths.
as you breath in, feel your belly expand like a balloon, and as you breath out, feel it deflate all the way.
focus on your breath, and if your mind wanders, gently bring it back to this feeling of breathing in and out. 

after a few minutes focusing on your breath, shift your attention to your mind's eye.
imagine yourself in a beautiful place - maybe you are on a beach, maybe you're at the top of a mountain, by a cool stream, or lying in a field of flowers.  wherever you are, spend a few minutes soaking in this beautiful place with all of your senses.  what do you see?  what do you hear?  what do you smell and taste? and what do you feel?  what are you doing in this place?  are there any animals or loved ones, living or dead, there with you?  spend some time simply enjoying your beautiful spot. 

this beautiful place is here, just for you.  it's yours and is waiting to welcome you with open arms no matter what, no matter where you are in life or what you're thinking or feeling.  when life feels overwhelming you can stop and return to this place, allowing it to wrap you up in warmth, comfort, beauty, peace, and love. 

allow your heart to open up with gratitude for this place.  if you are not already doing so, open your hands, palms upward.  straighten your shoulders, physically opening your heart to the world as you also do so with your emotional heart.  look around your beautiful place once more with this sense of gratitude for all that you see there.  {pause}  now, with the same grateful heart, begin to see all the things and people which you are grateful for in the real world.  be patient and allow this gratitude list to come to you.  if something which you are not grateful for pops up, acknowledge it and gently shift your focus back to that for which you are thankful.

as we end, silently thank all of these things for what they have done in your life.  give these things a kiss, a hug, a high-five, or whatever is most meaningful.  thank your heart for taking the time to acknowledge these things and ask it to bring your sense of gratitude with you as you return to the real world.  when you are ready, open your eyes and come back to the present.


of course, if you're not into meditation, it's just as good to write a list or create art around the things you're grateful for.  and if you're thankful for certain people, it's especially wonderful to express that gratitude to them directly.  today i'm thankful for:
- brandi! for her friendship, encouragement, and most recently, all her help with my new blog.
- my patient, hilarious, multi-talented hubby.
- my increasingly cuddly kitty.
- haystacks {sort of like mexican salads}.
- cleaning out the house and reorganizing.
- our fan, ice cubes, any/all air conditioned places we've found this week {it's been 100's of degrees here!}.

what are you thankful for?

{all photos from luna~nueva}


  1. a few weeks ago, I started making a mental list of all the things I am grateful for and it has made an incredible difference on my happiness level... I have to give this a try, it sounds so much more detailed and like a great relaxation activity.

  2. lovely mediation. I will have to peak at it again at during the night. I am thankful for a day off, my coffeshop hoping this week, walking in the rain, writing, reading and open hearts. Have a sweet weekend!!

  3. Thanks for sharing Kim. Your gratitude lists always make me consider what's been going on for the good in my life.

    Although.... 100 degrees would make it hard for me to focus! We just started cooling down to low 70s and upper 60s - my personal favorite.

    I'm thankful that my practicum teacher and I are in contact, it's cooled off, my roommates and I are hanging out again, and for a lazy intro to a school year to enjoy work and relax.

  4. I'm thankful that I've made it through the first crazeeeee week of school, that the sun is shining and the sky is blue, that there are pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks, and so much more. Am thankful I got up early enough to read this before I have to get ready for work!

    Have a fab weekend, Kim! xo

  5. Wow! I read this just thought about all the good you do in your work. I mean, it's incredible how much I know you're helping your patients.

    I'm thankful for answered prayers, a loving husband, and my good health.

  6. What a super fantastic beautiful post... I want to remember my own "happy place" and revisit when life kicks me down a bit.

    Thank you, Kim. Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  7. This is incredibly beautiful! I've "bookmarked" this meditation for me to come back to, over & over.

    I simply love it.

  8. This is so nice, and it was such a good reminder for me today. Thank you for sharing your beautiful meditation, and I always love reading your gratitude lists. :) I am grateful for the weekend, coffee, my friends who are wonderful and supportive and don't judge me even when I do dumb things, and my job(s). :)

  9. "a grateful heart to overcoming life's struggles and maintaining a greater sense of happiness" -- i love this Kim.

    I'm taking deep breathing in and out while reading your post. Hahah, i can't help it.

    I remember one of your comments in my blog, when you said something about my artistry being as deep than my interest and like to art. I'm embracing it whatever the outcome may be.

    By the way, i'm thankful for this week's good news. The painting you featured on your blog, the one with the bird riding a bicycle up to the sky ("Between the click of the light and the start of a dream"), it's chosen as one of the artworks to be exhibited in a prestigious Art contest in the Philippines. I didn't win but i'm so much grateful i'm in the Top 10 of the Watercolour category. I'll be attending the exhibit night next week. :)

  10. I love this! And, I completely agree. Sometimes being grateful is the only way out of a seemingly dark hole.
    Have a happy weekend! I've heard that cooler weather is finally going to be among us! :)

  11. beautiful post Kim... helped me breathe a little easier. have a wonderful weekend :)

  12. I think meditation can mean a lot of things, but gratitude is definitely part of it. Or awareness, I suppose, too!

  13. Looks like a great way to relax the mind and soul - will try this at home - thanks and have a great weekend Kim,

  14. Loved your mediation. I used to go to a yoga class where they did guided meditation and it was so relaxing. Now they just tell us to count our breaths - which is also relaxing but you have to REALLY focus as to not you know, just day dream.

    I am thankful rainy nights, and sunny days. I am thankful for good movies with good friend. And I am thankful for having someone who makes me laugh in my life these days.

  15. Love this! My yoga instructor leads us through guided meditations and they always leave me feeling so calm, but reenergized.

    I am grateful for lovely fall weekends and blog friends. : )



  16. i love this post because I'm really getting into starting and ending the day with positive thinking... i'm thankful for my parents who give me all their support, my friends who are always there for me and have to say thankful that this blog has given my some new friends... hope you're having a great weekend!

  17. So, I read your meditation while the world was quiet this morning and I truly did feel at ease and calm. I didn't know what to expect going into it, but once I kept reading each word, taking my time, I really felt the effect. I'm so amazed. If you make up any more meditations, please share with us!

  18. I'm thankful for you and this beautiful meditation and for the crisp autumn air. (Have you ever considered audio recording some of these meditations? Could be lovely for your new blog...)

  19. Thank you for sharing this, Kim! I'll have to try it here in a few when I do my daily meditation. It's so helpful to meditate and is unlike anything else. It's something I think we should all do and even learn in school so I'm very glad to hear you're doing it with your patients.

  20. This is so beautiful Kim, and needed. Life has been zaney the past few weeks and I think I need to pause and commit to reciting this for awhile tonight. Thank you.