Let’s look at gratitude through a few different lenses.
I’ve never been a big fan of Thanksgiving as a holiday—all the cooking, cleaning ... turkey. But this year, I’ve made November my gratitude month, instead of focusing on a specific day or eyeing the to-do lists. More yoga. More snuggles. Could anything be better to center ourselves with, as we enter the busy and sometimes materialistic holiday season? I love what Jack Kornfield writes: “Gratitude does not envy or compare. Gratitude receives in wonder the myriad offerings of the rain and the earth, the care that supports every single life.”
Gratitude for Food
Instead of grabbing a fork and diving in, take a moment for thanks. As Sadhguru writes, “The food that you eat is life. It is other forms of life that we are eating—the other forms of lives are giving up their life to sustain our life. If we can eat with enormous gratitude for all the living things which give up their life to sustain our lives, then the food will behave in a very different way within you.”
Gratitude for Relationships (Even the Exes)
Even if you are not currently in a relationship, you can still reflect on past ones and feel grateful for what they have given, notes Rick Hanson, PhD. He wrote this meditation: “I appreciate my lovers and mates, past and present. I can focus on one of these persons, perhaps my spouse or mate if I’m currently in a relationship, and bring to mind the ways he or she has been good to me. I appreciate the fun we’ve had together, the humor and the companionship. I feel grateful for the times of support, understanding, and sympathy.”
Gratitude for Pets
Dogs don’t express gratitude with words of thanks, writes dog expert Cesar Millan, “they express it with their energy, a wag of the tail, and maybe a smile: ‘I’m thankful that you’re here, and happy to just be in this moment with you.’” A good source on enhancing focus is How to Meditate With Your Dog, by James Jacobson. Or, simply give your pet a little extra attention. [Bonus! Check out Lama Surya Das' article and podcast on meditating with your pets.]
Gratitude for Feelings
Especially as the holidays approach, there can be an unrealistic expectation of happiness. Be grateful for the full range of emotions. “I’ve come to appreciate my depression,” wrote Kelly Dudzik on Medium. “I’m incredibly grateful for anything that makes me feel something. Pain and sadness are actually good things because it means I’m alive. Joy takes my breath away.” A walking meditation is a good way to become aware of feelings, as well as the thoughts and sensations that accompany them, reports the Wildmind Buddhist Meditation Center.
Want more? Check out this guided meditation to bring more love and gratitude to your life.