|Community by Vicente Mansala|
Do you have a gratitude practice? When I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, more than 20 years ago, I kept hearing people talking about “gratitude” journals, and I was intrigued. Someone told me that all you needed to do was write down 15 things you were grateful for, each night before you went to bed. Seemed simple enough to me, so I tried it for a week. That was about all the gratitude I could muster, using that system.
Then I learned in a post Nina wrote a few years ago The Biochemical Basis for a Gratitude Practice that even just looking for things to be grateful for is very beneficial. In that post, Nina quotes neuroscientist Alex Korb from his book The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time saying:
“It’s not finding gratitude that matters most; it’s remembering to look in the first place. Remembering to be grateful is a form of emotional intelligence.”
So maybe that week wasn’t wasted. Over the years since my week of gratitude journaling, I came back to the concept of gratitude many times, with more success, and eventually the concept of a gratitude meditation came to light for me.
I recently discovered that Jack Kornfield has a Meditation on Gratitude and Joy, in which he starts with the macro or meta view, then gradually makes his way to the more specific. The trajectory of the more specific part is quite similar to the Loving Kindness Meditation I wrote about a few weeks ago in that the focus starts with self, moves on to loved ones, and finishes with other, or even enemy. It lays a strong foundation for getting started, if gratitude meditation is a new concept for you.
It’s been an unsettling week here in the United States. Perhaps pausing for a moment of meditation on gratitude could help us all to feel a bit more unified as we move forward. So for those who are interested, here is the gratitude section of Jack Kornfield’s meditation, which you could practice on its own:
With gratitude I remember the people, animals, plants, insects, creatures of the sky and sea, air and water, fire and earth, all whose joyful exertion blesses my life every day.
With gratitude I remember the care and labor of a thousand generations of elders and ancestors who came before me.
For more on this, see the post Meditation on Gratitude and Joy, which is an excerpt from Jack’s book The Wise Heart.