Circles of Gratitude
Today, I thought I would share one of my favorite practices for cultivating a grateful heart:
Before your feet touch the floor in the morning, lie in bed for a few minutes more to mentally become aware of the abundance that is present in your life. Beginning with what is here in your physical space, intend to align yourself with the good vibrations of all that you have. When we are feeling grateful, naturally, our body and mind are at ease, our heart is open and we feel good about life.
Begin where you are. Bring your awareness to how your body feels upon the mattress and give thanks for that. Allow your mind to focus on the next closest thing. Give thanks for sheets and blankets. For warmth. For a good night’s sleep. Many people do not have beds or blankets to offer comfort. Sometimes it helps to put things in perspective as we do this practice to remember those who have much less than we do.
Give thanks for the person lying next to you (if there is one), or your child in the next room, for your nearest and dearest ones. Imagine their faces and smiles.
Now make your circle of gratitude a little wider. Expand it outwards. Give thanks for your house or apartment and how it protects you from the elements. For the food in your refrigerator. For the coffee brewing in the pot and its savory smell. For the hot water you'll shower in to begin your day.
Continue to expand your scope and circle of gratitude. Offer thanks for your friends and family. Name them by name. Visualize them in your mind’s eye. Extend appreciation to your neighbors. To your school or church community. To your workplace and co-workers. To your city, state, and country, and all the faithful beings who work to keep the things in your life running smoothly. Envision them being warmed by the rays of your kind regard.
Offer gratitude for the earth itself that overflows with extraordinary natural beauty; that provides resources to make our lives ease-filled and comfortable. For health, for love, for the spirit of connectedness that unites us all. For breath. For the gift of simply being alive.
And on you go, naming all the things in your world for which you are grateful.
Then, notice how you feel. If you’ve done this practice slowly, gently, and with sincerity, I can guarantee you will feel a whole lot lighter. Don’t be surprised if the hue of your entire day shifts to be brighter, more hope-filled.
©2023, Janice L. Lundy
Excerpted from Portable Peace: A Weekly Guidebook
Gentle and timely reminders for the spiritual journey, because sometimes we forget or need a kind nudge back to Center.
Dr. Janice Lynne Lundy (PsyD, DMin, MPC)
is The Gerald May Professor of Spiritual Direction & Counseling at the Graduate Theological Foundation. She is an interspiritual director/mentor, educator and counselor who has been pointing people back toward the Sacred for nearly thirty years.