In every meditation practice, I ask the 4 soul questions I was taught in primordial sound meditation at the Chopra Center. We covered the first three question in previous articles.
The fourth question is What Am I Grateful For?
At first, one might think finding gratitude is a simple task. For me however, it was quite challenging when I started my meditation practice more than two years ago. Every time I came to the fourth soul question, “what am I grateful for?” my mind would take me to all the negative experiences in my life. Then one morning, the thought occurred to me: I just had a tooth extraction and I no longer had a nagging toothache. My reaction was one of gratitude that the pain was gone. That one thought gave me a process which I now use to practice gratitude. I think about past surgeries, horrible cancer treatments that I endured, severe back pain, and other physical ailments that no longer affect me. That process allows me to feel very grateful.
Practicing gratitude is incredibly valuable in many ways. Robert Emmons is regarded as the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude with his book, Thanks! How the new science of gratitude can make you happier. He studied more than 1,000 people that practiced gratitude for three weeks. They reported a host of physical benefits such as stronger immune systems, less aches and pains, lower blood pressure, increased desire to exercise, and improved sleep. They also experienced psychological benefits such as higher levels of positive emotions, more alertness, more joy and pleasure, more optimism, and happiness. It seems that gratitude pauses our built-in negative bias. Another study in 2008 by psychologist Alex Wood in the Journal of Research and Personality, demonstrated that showing gratitude can reduce the frequency and duration of episodes of depression.
I am finding that I am grateful for the relationships in my life, both past and present. I am grateful for the support of my family, friends, past business mentors, and the wonderful community I live in.
Another way of discovering gratitude is remembering opportunities that have been given to us, whether we think we deserve them or not. We can be grateful for the skills that we possess and the knowledge we have discovered. Our practice can include gratitude for the world around us: the trees, plants, flowers, wildlife, changing seasons, or even the sight of your dog greeting at the door. Having an opportunity to help someone in need, putting a smile on someone’s face, or sharing a kind word or complement will all help us feel gratitude in knowing that we made a difference in someone’s life.
A great way to practice gratitude is to try journaling. Every day, jot down a couple of things you are grateful for. When you find yourself in a negative mood, open the journal and remember all you have to be grateful for. According to Robert Emmons, journaling is an excellent way to becoming a truly grateful person. He believes this practice works because it consciously focuses our attention on developing more grateful thinking and helps eliminate ungrateful thoughts.
Now in my daily meditation practice, when I come to the fourth sole question “what am I grateful for?” I must be mindful of the time because my list is so long.
Lifelong entrepreneur and resident of the 1000 islands. Started his meditation practice in 2018.
15.What am I Grateful For?