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November. It's a time to reflect on our blessings and express in some way our
gratitude for them. Many of us have the day off of work, and we go out of our way to
spend time with family and friends, gorging on good food.

My family and I love this holiday, and I hope that whatever the specifics of your
Thanksgiving Day this year, you were able to spend some time considering the
elements of your own life for which you are grateful. Doubtless, you've heard that
same sentiment more than once.

It's good to be reminded, Thanksgiving Day of all days, to review the things we can
point to which fill our lives with happiness. But rather than simply be one more voice
reminding you to 'give thanks', I thought I might offer a simple generative meditation
exercise which will help you experience that gratitude more profoundly.

The following steps are all that is involved:

  • Find a quiet time and place where you will be undisturbed for however long you
    wish to meditate.

  • Spend a few moments simply breathing. Experience your entire torso as air
    comes into your body through your nose, and leaves again. No tension is
    required, or attempt at controlling your breath. Just breath and experience the
    action.

  • Spend a few more moments feeling your heart beat in your chest.

  • Identify something (anything in your life will do) for which you are grateful. Big or
    small, something that saved your life, or something of little 'real' import - makes
    no difference, so long as it is something which prompts gratitude in your spirit.

  • Now, seeing an image of that thing, or saying its name silently to yourself,
    imagine breathing that feeling of gratitude into the spot in your chest where
    your heart is beating.

  • Breath that gratitude back into the world on the out breath. Don't hold your
    breath, draw it out, or otherwise try to manipulate the natural rhythm of
    breathing; just follow it with this feeling of gratitude.

  • Continue this process, refreshing the image of the thing you are grateful for, or
    repeating its name to yourself, to keep the feeling of gratitude fresh.

Feel free to allow other 'items of gratitude' to suggest themselves to you - the point of
this isn't so much to focus on what makes you feel grateful, but the gratitude itself.
Allow as many different things which prompt that feeling as you like. Eventually, you
might find yourself feeling gratitude burning in your heart WITHOUT any of these cues.

In his book the
Heartmath Solution, Doc Childre uses human physiology to build a
strong case for the benefits of a similar exercise. He talks about the heart's brain,
and gives a lot of the usual health improvement citations for why we might want to
pursue this. I enjoyed reading his book and you might find that it provides insights for
you, too.

That is more than fine, but I would also point out that developing a vibrant sense of
gratitude for all the good things in our lives helps our spiritual growth, too. When we
feel like we have a lot going for us, it's easy - almost automatic - to exhibit many of
the other values our religious traditions prescribe. Generosity, loving kindness,
justice, forgiveness: all of these are easier to express naturally when we are
operating from a sense of plenty, rather a sense of being threatened by a feeling of
poverty.

So this Thanksgiving Day, and on lots of other days too, spend a few minutes
breathing gratitude. It will be one more thing you can be glad for in your life.

Vigilate,

Chris B.

Note:  This article was sent to readers who have subscribed to the Tantric
Christianity meditation mini-course. The exercise assumes a basic understanding of
locus meditation. For more information on this primary mode of interior practice go
to
http://www.tantricchristianity.com/lesson_signup.html and sign up for the course.
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Gratitude Meditation for Thanksgiving
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