Shelly Tygielski shares a guided practice to infuse your body with a sense of gratitude. This is a practice that can help us gain a newfound appreciation for the people we know and even those we don’t know. Shelly Tygielski is a trauma-informed mindfulness teacher and author of the book, Sit Down to Rise Up: How Radical Self-Care Can Change the World. She teaches formalized self-care and resilience practices at organizations around the world and is widely regarded as a self-care activist. In this practice, she invites us to create space for our emotions and reminds us that if we’re ever looking for a reason to be grateful, all we need to do is look inwards.
A 12-Minute Meditation to Cultivate Embodied Gratitude
A Practice to Cultivate Embodied Gratitude
- Let your body relax and soften. Bring your attention to your breath, breathing deeply into your belly. Your body is beginning to settle. You can either close your eyes or soften your gaze. Taking a long, slow, deep inhale, remind yourself of your body’s inherent awareness, ease, and vitality.
- Begin by directing your attention to the top of your head, and as thoughts arise, just let them be. Be aware of any tension in your scalp, and on your next inhalation, pause and breathe out gratitude. Place the palms of your hands over your eyes gently. As you breathe in, see if you can soften your eyes. As you breathe out, let go of all the hardness, the tightness around your eyes.
- On your next inhalation, bring your awareness to your nostrils, to the place where you can actually feel the air entering and passing out of your nostrils. Let your concentration deepen.
- Take your time as you continue moving down through the body, inhaling, accepting any tension, and exhaling as you soften and relax. Soften your mouth, your throat, neck, and shoulders. Continue on to relaxing your arms, your fingers, your spine and chest, feeling your ribcage expand as you inhale. Move your awareness all the way down your legs, into your feet.
- To complete this practice, slowly bring your awareness back upward, from your feet to your legs to your pelvic area and stomach… your chest, your heart… your shoulders, your neck, your face, breathing in and out smoothly as your awareness travels up and through your body. When you’ve reached the top of your head, return your awareness to your breath.
- From this place of physical gratitude, bring to your mind’s eye somebody who you feel a great amount of love for. Notice how this feels in your heart. Notice the sensations around your heart: warmth, openness, tenderness.
- Let this individual know how grateful you are for what they mean to you, what they’ve given you, completing the sentence: I am grateful for your presence in my life, and this is why… And just take a moment to list the reasons. Allow this person to embrace you, and feel the joy in your own heart as they accept your gratitude.
- As you depart from them, bring your attention to a person you barely know at all. Maybe it was the woman who checked out your groceries at the supermarket yesterday, or the server at the restaurant you frequent.
- Let this individual know why you are grateful for them: I am grateful for your presence in my life, and this is why… And take a moment to list the reasons, embracing them, feeling the joy in your heart as if they’ve accepted your gratitude.
- And then, departing from them, envision yourself standing in front of yourself, and say to yourself: I offer my gratitude for the safety and well-being I have been given. I offer my gratitude for the blessing of this earth that I have been given. I offer my gratitude for the measure of health I have been given. I offer my gratitude for the family and friends I have been given. I offer my gratitude for the teachings and lessons I have been given. I offer my gratitude for this life that I have been given. And let yourself know: I am grateful for who I am and for this life, and this is why…
- Wish yourself safety and joy and happiness, feeling that your heart center is filled with compassion and gratitude and that you’re looking forward to what’s to come, because no matter what you have to face or who you have to face in your life, you can do so with gratitude in your heart for every day that you wake up and are given another day here on Earth.
- In closing, become more conscious of your breath. You can wiggle your toes and your fingers, and slowly open your eyes or widen your gaze. Feel free to sit in this space for a while. You are free to just be.
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