Gratitude

Lean into Joy

A GRATITUDE MEDITATION TO BUILD UP YOUR HAPPINESS MUSCLES

If you’ve heard of the brain’s negativity bias you’ll know that humans evolved to favour bad news. That is, to be on the lookout for threats (as do antelope in the Serengeti) and commit negative events to memory to be able recall and avoid them next time.

A handy skill to have when it’s you or the lion. But in modern times? A nuisance for the most part! It means we worry about stuff that will likely never happen, we blow things out of proportion and we don’t actually see the amazing things that are happening before us each and every day.

Happiness is a skill. It’s something we should teach our kids they can choose, develop, practice, learn – as enthusiastically as we do about their sports, their manners and their times tables.

So this a meditation for playing ‘spotlight’ with joy. To seek it out, to recall it, to commit it to memory so that we recognise it in mindful moments and actually shift our happiness set point.

En-joy!

This meditation is one you can do to build up your happiness muscles. Muscles that just like the ones in your body, need to be strengthened and conditioned for a brighter mental landscape.

So getting yourself into a comfy position. Inviting an ease and loosening of the body, and of the mind, ahead of our meditation.  

ALERT RELAXATION

And if you’ve found yourself fighting sleep in meditation recently – that’s actually OK you can accept the sleepy state just as it is and if it means nodding off then so be it. 

But if you prefer, you can also try to encourage a more alert kind of relaxation by freeing your back to sit unsupported at various times throughout the meditation, as well as tilting your chin slightly upwards to shake off any dullness.  

But together we’ll start with the intention of a wakeful kind of relaxation and we’ll do this by first connecting with the breath.   

Connecting in with the breath where you can feel it best. Using the cooling in-breath and the warming out-breath to get things started.  

Breathing in energy and alertness. 

Breathing out relaxation into the body.  

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Breathing in attention and vibrancy. 

Breathing out a deep restfulness into the body.

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Breathing in wakefulness and clarity. 

Breathing out calm and stillness through the body.

RECALLING JOY

And what I’d like you to do now is cast your mind back on your day. And see if you can recall any moments of pleasure or joy. A conversation. Or a song you heard on the radio. Any moments outside in the sunshine, or the first sip of coffee for the day.  

Just sitting here and allowing any little moments of happiness from your day to present themselves to you in memory. 

And if not today then maybe yesterday or sometime in the past week. 

Something, or many things, that brought a smile to your face either inwardly or outwardly. 

PRESENT MOMENT JOY

And having recalled these little glimpses of joy or contentment from the recent past, now I’d like you to bring your awareness into the present moment. To the here and now. To all the things that you can hear – inside and outside. And all the things you can feel – either emotions or other sensations in the body. Just noticing whatever is arising moment to moment. 

Is there anything in there you can appreciate? Anything you can you feel happy about? 

There may be pain in the body, there may be fatigue, there may be feelings of sadness or anxiety or anger. You can accept all of these things just as they are…. But you can also ask yourself – in every moment that arises – can I feel grateful for this? 

This breath. 

This time you’ve carved out for yourself. 

This body. 

These sounds that are all around.

Memories that return from the past, or thoughts that arise about the future. 

Any people in your midst either known or unknown.  

What about any of your experiences, both here in meditation, and out in the world, can you appreciate? Find the joy in? See beauty within? 

I’ll leave you now to continue on in silent meditation. You can keep going with this cultivation of a positive, thankful state of mind… or move on to whatever style of meditation presents itself to you in the first few quiet moments. 

Enjoy.

Gratitude

Rejoice

A MEDITATION TO HELP SHIFT THE BRAIN’S NEGATIVITY BIAS

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about mindfulness in the workplace. The pursuit of corporate and career growth, achievement of goals and the spirit of competition seems so at odds with things like compassion, non-attachment and single-tasking.

But I’ve just finished reading a fantastic book by Lodro Rinzler called The Buddha Walks Into the Office and I’m feeling more optimistic the two camps can get along!

Lodro talks about remembering to stop and celebrate the moments we are proud of – and in fact ALL that we’ve got going for us.

This is my version of his ‘rejoicing’ meditation.

Let’s get settled for our meditation practice.

Adjust your body so that you’re nice and comfortable. Spine elongated towards the sky. Relaxed shoulders. And arms. Hands resting in your lap or on your thighs.

And taking a deep, beautiful breath to mark the start of this meditation. Feeling the refreshing air enter your nose or your throat. And as you exhale, releasing the day’s activities to the past, and tomorrow’s activities to the future.

Spending a couple of moments becoming acquainted with this breath. Gradually moving from those deliberate deep breaths back to a natural rhythm of breathing. In and out. In and out.

MEDITATION

And for this meditation we’re going spend some time cultivating an attitude of celebration. Rejoicing all that we’ve got going for us. Dwelling in positive thoughts about our place in the world and our impact on those around us.

So to kick things off, think back on your day or week, and contemplate this question:

What have I done that I can be proud of?

Sitting with this question as the object of our meditation for the time being.

Thinking about what we accomplished at work, or in a hobby or a project. Or perhaps it was an interaction with someone; a child, or a co-worker or friend.

What things have you done today, or this week, that have made a difference in someone else’s life?

Just contemplate this for a few more moments.

And if you catch yourself starting to wander or creating stories or judgements around your list, gently come back to the question:

What I have I done that I can be proud of?

Contemplating all there is to rejoice in our lives right now. Quietening the inner critic. Shifting the needle on our brain’s negativity bias.

And even if we’ve had a particularly rough day and we’re struggling to come up with something specific, we can still bring to mind everyday things that can be celebrated. Thinking back to the barista who made us an exceptionally good coffee this morning. The generous driver who let us cut in in traffic. Or simply that we were able make some time for this meditation.

We’ll now close off that exercise. Take a pause, reconnect with your breath and switch your attention to your body.

Investigate whether the attitude of celebration is a felt experience in the body. Inhaling in to these areas; perhaps around the heart or the tummy. Keeping your attention focused there if it feels good for you.

We’ll now carry this intention of celebration with us into the rest of silent meditation.

Choose a mindfulness technique that feels best for you right now, and begin again whenever the connection is broken.

Well done.

Gratitude

Thank You

A MEDITATION ON GRATITUDE

I’ve recently returned from a week in crazy Las Vegas. And what a week of SENSORY OVERLOAD it was! The sights – the lights, the architecture, the people. The sounds – gaming machines, theatre shows and nightclubs. And the smells! Every casino has its own unique scent.

After a 16-hour flight home to Australia I was overcome with gratitude.

Gratitude to my employer for giving me the opportunity to travel. Gratitude to Qantas for making the flight home safe and comfortable. Gratitude for my family who met me (and my tears) at the airport with open arms. And as the jet lag wore off, gratitude for the simplicity of being home. The comfort and familiarity of walking through the neighbourhood in the sunshine, of driving my own car, of having the space and solitude to breath in again.

I’ve a lot to be thankful for.

So, thank you. Whoever you are. xx

Welcome.

Let’s spend some time dusting off the day’s activities. Thoughts about what has been. Or thoughts about what’s to come.

Taking a deep breath in. Through the nose and into our lungs. And a long exhalation. Letting it all go. Letting it all out.

Relaxing the shoulders and the arms. Raising up our posture until we connect with the aliveness of sitting up straight. Relaxing our belly so that we’re not holding onto anything.

Taking another deep breath in. And a deep breath out.

We are now ready to begin.

MEDITATION

In the routine of every day life, whether fast-paced and frenetic or slow and carefree, it can be easy to forget what we’re grateful for.

So for this meditation we’re going to spend some time remembering what’s so great to be a human alive on this earth, exploring the mundane – and the magnificent – all as an opportunity to feel thankful and develop that quality of gratefulness.

So let’s first begin by bringing to mind something you truly feel grateful for. Something or someone that’s had a profound impact on your life. Most likely the first thing you think of. Perhaps your parents, a friend or loved one. Perhaps an opportunity or a milestone. Hold this idea in your mind. And connecting with your breath repeat these few simple words.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Noticing how it feels in our body to give thanks to this person or this thing.

Now let’s choose something that we likely take for granted in everyday life. The simplest of things we rarely think to be thankful for. Clean air to breath in. Clear water on demand. That our garbage bins get collected at the same time every week. Think about what this seemingly small thing does for the quality of your life.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Feeling an expansion in our mind and body as we acknowledge the unacknowledged.

Now bring to mind an event or person who’s challenged you. Something that through experiencing hardship, darkness or pain, led to growth, clarity and strength. Something you may not have been thankful for at the time but now, can truly appreciate.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Experiencing the freedom that comes with seeing the positive in the negative.

And finally turning our attention inward to ourselves. Pausing to marvel at all that we are. The magnificence of a body that moves us where we want to be. A mind that can create and solve and love. The breath that is with us every moment of every day.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Feeling the joy that is to be the only one like us, alive on this earth, in this very moment.

The remainder of the meditation is now yours to enjoy in silence, taking this quality of gratitude with you to rest in and apply to whatever experience comes up during the next little while.

Thank you.