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Open Your Heart to Gratitude & Joy

Before settling into a comfortable position for meditation, you might like to begin by moving your body and opening your heart. Because our practice today will focus on developing a sense of gratitude, I’d like to suggest a yoga pose that will help you to create a sense of spaciousness in your heart center. Begin in a seated pose, with knees bent, soles of the feet anchored to Earth. Lean back slightly, and allow the palms of your hands to press into the ground, a few inches behind your hips, with fingers pointing towards your feet. As you breathe in, push into your hands and feet, straightening your arms as your hips lift up towards the sky. As you exhale and allow your head to drop back, your body will adopt the Reverse Table Top Pose. Inhale and feel the space created in your chest. Your heart is open to give and receive gratitude, joy, and love. If you’re feeling strong and stable, on your next inhale, lift a foot and straighten your leg. Exhale and release your foot back to the Earth. Repeat on the other side. Feeling the strength in your body, keep your chest and hips lifted for one more breath. As you exhale, gently lower your seat down. From here, you may decide to take a breath and then explore the pose again, or, if you need a rest, roll your back and shoulders to the ground. Notice your heart beating.

Once you’ve had an opportunity to explore the pose and practice linking your breath and body movement, find your way into a comfortable meditation position. You may like to lie on your back, extending your body along the ground, with your feet flopping open to the side and your palms facing up in Corpse Pose, or you may choose to sit with legs crossed in Easy Pose. Perhaps it’s easier for you to sit upright in a chair. Once you’ve selected your meditation posture, arrive in the moment, by taking a slow inhale through the nose, and gently releasing the breath with a sigh out your mouth. If it feels comfortable, you may like to close your eyes or soften your gaze. Notice the rise and fall of your belly as your breath deepens and your body begins to relax. Notice the rise of the chest as the air begin to fill the space behind your heart. You may decide that it feels nice to rest your hands on your heart. Bring your attention to your chest and imagine your breath flowing right into the chambers of your heart.

Now see if you can bring to mind something that fills your heart with a sense of gratitude. This could be anything or anyone. Maybe you feel grateful for your body that allows you to move and play, a special friend or family member, a warm place to sleep, food to eat, or a quiet moment to rest and be still. Maybe you feel grateful for the sun that warms the day, the trees that create the air we breathe, or the birds that fill the world with music. Maybe you’re grateful for another day to shine your brilliant light and make a difference in this world. Imagine a few things for which you feel immensely grateful. You may notice images, thoughts, or body sensations. Maybe you experience gratitude for several different things, or maybe you focus on just one. As these thoughts and images swirl through your head, let your grateful heart fill with warmth and joy. With each inhale, welcome a feeling of gratitude. With each exhale, share your radiant joy with the world. Inhale, gratitude. Exhale, joy. Inhale, gratitude. Exhale, joy. Continue for as long as you want. As you prepare to dive back into your day, know that you can continue to weave your gratitude practice into the small moments when you feel anxious, irritable, stressed, or sad. Allow your thankful heart to lift you up. Namaste.

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