Gratitude where there is Attitude... Mindfulness Exercise

December 28th, 2021

Gratitude When You’ve Got Attitude – Mindfulness Exercise

Written by Neva Barno

Pop culture puts a lot of emphasis on gratitude. But it can be really hard to be grateful when we’re full to the brim with anger, frustration, hopelessness or grief.

Instead of trying to force gratitude, which often doesn’t work, this meditation allows the experience of not being grateful – of being pissed off, sad, lost, or in despair – before finding the space to be grateful.

If you want to experience gratitude but are feeling blocked, ask yourself:

What’s eclipsing my gratitude?

What is stopping me from feeling more grateful?

*Try to keep to keep the answers to feelings (i.e “I’m feeling frustrated”) rather than stories (ie. “I’m mad at my sister and she won’t return any of my texts and she’s being passive-aggressive and…”)*

It might help to write your answers down, or say them out loud.

“I’m feeling lonely.”

“I’m anxious and afraid.”

“I just feel hopeless.”

Once you feel you’ve listed out the range of difficult emotions you’re feeling, choose one, and explore your body to see where you are experiencing it. Emotions often dwell in our chests, our throat area, or our stomach. We may feel a tightening or a fluttering. It might feel like there’s a brick or a rock sitting in one of these areas. The idea is not to blast through this feeling, but simply to notice and experience it, the way we would a work of art at a gallery.

Resistance can come up at this point. I don’t want to feel this – it’s uncomfortable!

If that’s happening for you, validate the resistance as an emotion too, and start there.

Observe your emotion and its accompanying sensations as you would looking at a piece of art at a museum – with curiosity, not trying to change it.

Does the emotion feel like it has a texture? Or a color?

If the temptation to jump into the story comes up (“I just need to tell my sister she’s wrong!”), that’s okay. Notice it and gently put it aside, returning to the experience – the energy of what’s going on.

Once you’ve stayed with your more difficult emotions for as long as you feel called to, you might notice if a tiny space opens up for some gratitude to come in. Which might simply be, “I’m grateful to have the time to sit quietly.”

And that’s it.

Gradually, you might notice there is room for a bit of lightness. And sometimes, a bit more.

You might find that the longer you stay gently with your emotions, the more space there is for gratitude to seep in. And the more we practice this – this genuine experiencing of gratitude, rather than forcing it on ourselves – the more easily it comes the next time, and the next.

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