A Practice to Welcome Gratitude with Sharon Salzberg

This practice, from Sharon Salzberg’s book Real Change, opens a doorway in your heart to gratitude and receiving happiness.

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This practice, from Sharon Salzberg’s book Real Change, opens a doorway in your heart to gratitude and receiving happiness.

1. Sit or lie down on the floor in a relaxed, comfortable posture. Your eyes can be open or closed. Now bring to mind a pleasurable experience you had recently, one that carries a positive emotion such as happiness, joy, comfort, contentment, or gratitude. If you can’t think of a positive experience, be aware of giving yourself the gift of time to do this practice now.

2. Take a moment to cherish whatever image comes to mind with the recollection of the pleasurable experience. See what it feels like to sit with this recollection. Where in your body do you feel sensations arising? What are they? How do they change? Focus your attention on the part of your body where those sensations are the strongest. Stay with the awareness of your bodily sensations and your relationship to them, opening up to them and accepting them.

3. Now notice what emotions come up as you bring this experience to mind. You may feel moments of excitement, moments of hope, moments of fear, moments of wanting more. Just watch these emotions rise and pass away. All of these states are changing and shifting.
Perhaps you feel some uneasiness about letting yourself feel too good, because you fear bad luck might follow. Perhaps you feel some guilt about not deserving to feel this happiness. In such moments, practice inviting in the feelings of joy or delight, and allowing yourself to make space for them. Acknowledge and fully experience such emotions.

4. Notice what thoughts may be present as you bring to mind the positive. Do you have a sense of being less confined or less stuck in habits? Or perhaps you find yourself falling back into thoughts about what went wrong in your day, what disappointed you—these thoughts can be more comfortable because they are so familiar. If so, take note of this. Do you tell yourself, I don’t deserve this pleasure until I give up my bad habits, or I must find a way to make this last forever? Try to become aware of such add-on thoughts and see if you can let them go and simply be with the feeling of the moment.

5. End the meditation by simply sitting and being with the breath. Be with the breath gently, as though you were cradling it. Then when you’re ready, you can open your eyes.

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