Gladdening The Heart: The Power Of Giving Thanks

The word gratitude seems to be thrown around so much in our everyday vernacular that it’s easy to think that there’s something inherently wrong with us if we don’t jump up out of bed with a big smile. We’re faced with a insurmountable number of self-improvement books and yoga classes where the teacher invites us to be grateful for everything we have, especially when you’re 10 breaths into a chair pose... Thanks, Susan.
Manoj Dias is a meditation and mindfulness teacher, born and raised in the Theravada Buddhist tradition.
giving thanks through gratitude meditation
Manoj Dias is a meditation and mindfulness teacher, born and raised in the Theravada Buddhist tradition.

Manoj Dias reflects how giving thanks and expressing gratitude becomes a transformational power for your wellbeing.

Giving Thanks: What Is Gratitude?

There was a time when I used to think that other people thought ‘gratitude’ was like a coffee from your local café — something that can be purchased on a whim, familiar and always pleasurable.

But the truth about gratitude is that it’s often difficult to cultivate. And when we do practice being grateful for things in our lives it can feel forced, fake or inauthentic. And many of us have such a deeply ingrained negativity bias — so strong that the last thing we can think of in this moment is what we’re good.

So it’s fair to ask the universe why you should be grateful when your neck deep in parking fines, your girlfriend has broken up with you for your best friend, and there’s so much suffering in the world.

So here’s another meditation teacher telling you why you should practice gratitude — because it can literally change your day to day experience of life.

Read more: International yoga teacher Annemaree Rowley reflects on the Yogic wisdom of how to be kind, Ahimsa, and shares guidance to apply this kindness to every aspect of one’s life.

Gratitude’s Power Of Transformation

Research shows us that gratitude not only improves our mental health and wellbeing but also assists with chronic pain, sleep problems and elevates our mood.

Then there was a gentleman by the name of Buddha who espoused the virtues of ‘gladdening’ one’s heart, some 2,500 years ago.

Being grateful is not revolutionary. We have a natural tendency to do it in moments of joy with loved ones or colleagues or achieving some great task. But research and practice tell us it’s the way we practice gratitude that has the power to transform our lives. It can be easy to warm our heart towards our lovers, friends, and career for what it’s given us in our lives.

It’s a little harder to gladden the heart to the fresh water many of us drink every day, the fact many of us are reading this from the comfort of a home or office and not a war zone. Or the sobering realization we are alive and that’s something pretty to be grateful for.

When we practice being grateful and giving thanks, the aim is to move the practice of recollecting things we’re grateful for from a conceptual, cognitive thought to a feeling.

Read more: From its history and science to how it makes us better people — explore why empathy is important and three practices to increase it.

Here’s How You Can Practice Gratitude Meditation Eyes Open Or Closed

  1. Settle the body and drop into a feeling of connection — to your chair or cushion, then to the sounds that come in and out and eventually to the feeling of your body breathing.
  2. Bring to mind someone you love — see them, picture them, and feel their presence. How does your heart feel when you simply bring them to mind. It’s important here that you not only bring this person to mind, but also why you love them. See the many ways.
  3. After sometime, bring to mind something in your life you’re grateful for. This coud be material, a car or a bike, or it could be something you don’t always acknowledge — your warm bed, a nice house or the coffee you had in the morning.
  4. Finally, bring to mind something about yourself you’re grateful for. This can be hard as we often don’t see that much to be grateful for within us. But see if you can find one thing. It could be the way you’ve overcome something or how much you care about your friends. It may even be how passionately you support a football team. See if you can tap into the feeling of this. What does gratitude feel like in the body?
  5. Take a deep breath in and then let it go.

Giving thanks, expressing and practicing gratitude is one way to show kindness and love to yourself and other. Meditate with Manoj Dias and explore more practices of care and love:

  1. Metta (Loving Kindness) Practice Manoj Dias 14:59
  2. Loving Kindness On the Go Manoj Dias 6:53
  3. Forgiveness Meditation Manoj Dias 15:46

The real benefit of practicing gratitude and giving thanks is in the recollecting throughout the day. And as neuroplasticity tells us, whatever we practice regularly, we get better at. So the more times you’re grateful for things, the more things there are to be grateful for.

I’m grateful for you, for reading this and practicing opening the heart.

Manoj also reflects on how how instant gratification could be harming our meditation practice.

Discover hundreds of guided gratitude meditation practices led by various teachers to deepen and expanding your ability of giving thanks.

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