Friday 9 August 2024
The Benefits of Gratitude Meditation
Words by Madelaine Couch
During the global pandemic, levels of anxiety and stress increased considerably. We were, and to an extent, still are, living in a state of fear about the future, the economy and our health. Being in a constant state of fear increases cortisol levels (the stress hormone) in the body, therefore impairing our physical and mental health. The charity Mind had predicted a mental health crisis as a result of the pandemic. More people struggled with mental health during the pandemic, than previously ever recorded.
So, what can we do to alleviate our stress levels? Gratitude meditation can transform our bodies and minds. By practising a daily meditation of gratitude we can improve our mental and physical health. By shifting our mindset from a victim mentality, we empower ourselves to make decisions from a more grounded place. If we always focus on worries about the future, we are living in our minds and not in the present moment. A regular meditation practice can help us come back into our present lives and alleviate anxiety.
According to the author and meditation teacher Jack Kornfield , Buddhist monks start each day with a practice of gratitude meditation, Native American elders begin each ceremony with prayers thanking nature, and Tibetan monks offer prayers of gratitude for their suffering.
Gratitude meditation is a simple and beneficial exercise for ourselves, our family and friends. Simply, turn off the television and radio, gather your loved ones together in a room and sit down. Each take it in turn to say three things you are grateful for, including why you are grateful for them. It is important to be aware of why you are grateful. Focusing our minds on what we are grateful for gives us a sense of freedom and abundance. And once everyone has had a turn, you have transformed the room into a space of gratitude and calm, reducing stress levels.
Practising gratitude isn’t just positive thinking. It is shining a light on the parts of your life that are beautiful and wonderful; on the people who you love and cherish; on the things that bring you joy; and on the blessings you experience each day. Sometimes it can be extremely difficult to look beyond life’s challenges and see what is good in our lives. We so often miss it, taking those we love for granted and the beauty is lost. By slowing down, being aware of the good things, appreciating our loved ones, and reminding ourselves of what is going well, we are able to shift our whole perspective on this life we are given.
We can start today. What three things are you grateful for, and why?