I often think of compassion and gratitude as the twin super powers of humanity. When we are compassionate and grateful, we are at our very best.
Last week we practiced a loving kindness meditation, which helps us to cultivate compassion towards ourselves and others. This week we will do a similar type of practice, but instead we will be practicing with gratitude.
This happens for good reason – from an evolutionary perspective we need a brain that is constantly scanning for the negative so we are able to perceive dangers or threats and react to them. We are constantly on a quest for safety. When humans first evolved this was essential for survival – we had to be on the lookout for the sabre tooth tiger to avoid being eaten.
In modern life this hypervigilance for danger feels less helpful. We are still constantly scanning for threats even though we face much less that will actually harm us. The result is we are far more likely to recall and hold onto a negative experience, while the multitude of positive things in our lives sail right past our attention unnoticed.
For example, imagine this typical day: you eat a good breakfast, a co-worker buys you a coffee, you complete a task or project at work, you have a negative interaction with an angry client, you come home to a hug from a loved one, and you finish your day in your comfy bed. What’s the experience you’re thinking about when your head hits the pillow? The angry client. It’s like that other good stuff didn’t even happen.
Gratitude meditation can help us train our brains to see all of the positive aspects of our lives that we may otherwise miss. Like compassion, gratitude is another mind state that is linked with higher levels of happiness and well being.
There are different types of gratitude meditations – sometimes we mindfully think about some of the simple things that we take for granted – like having our eye sight, or clean running water from our taps.
Some gratitude meditations guide us to think about positive experiences or relationships to cultivate a genuine feeling of gratitude.
In either case, the objective is to pause and take a moment to think about what you’re grateful for. The more often you practice this during meditation, the more often you will start to notice and experience these moments of gratitude within your daily life.
The more often you notice these positive moments happening in your daily life, the more often you’ll generate the feelings of happiness and peace that come with present moment awareness.
For six days this week, practice on of the following meditations:
Good luck out there this week!
As always, message me or the Facebook group with any questions or topics for discussion.