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Gratitude as meditation

I had just turned out my light and turned over to go to sleep after a long day. It's the time of year I love -- evening temperatures are above freezing but it's not hot yet, so it's the perfect time of year to sleep with windows open. I was tired and it was close to midnight. I was looking forward to a good night's sleep after a previous night of tossing and turning.

And then my neighbor turned on her car with the muffler rumbling as she let it warm up. For a while. A long while. What the . . . ? "It's nearly midnight," I thought. "Get in the car and go," I thought. But it went on for about 15 long minutes. Finally, she drove off. And I learned a very important lesson.

To help dial down my frustration, the first thing I thought was this: I am so glad I don't have to go to work on the midnight to eight shift. And that got me thinking about gratitude as meditation. I know plenty of people who have told me they can't meditate. They've tried, but they can't sit still, can't quiet their minds, can't do it . . . whatever "it" is.

Let me give you a tip. Take five minutes a day to be grateful and you will be meditating. It's easy. Here is a sample of some favorites.

  • I don't have to work from midnight to eight

  • I have had a good meal in the last 24 hours

  • I have a roof over my head

  • There are people who love me

  • I am okay/safe

There are lots of things we can be thankful for. When someone cuts you off in traffic, you can think, "I'm not in as much of a rush as he is." When someone is rude to you online, you can be grateful that you are not required to respond. When the rain has been falling for days, you can be grateful that you are dry.

There is always something to be grateful for, even if it's a simple as being grateful for that ethereal green of grass in Connecticut in the spring -- simply unearthly! And, don't make it into a big deal. You don't have to be the Buddha or the Dalai Lama. You don't even have to be some kind of Marvel superhero. Here's the secret. All you have to do is be grateful.

You can set aside five minutes a day and just think of things you are grateful for or you can catch yourself constantly during the day at particular moments. Either way, counting your blessings is meditation. You don't have to sit on a cushion for an hour. You don't have to breathe in any special way. You don't have to be or do anything special.

Just find gratitude wherever it comes up. It's easy because it's everywhere. Try it. Try it again. And again. You can do it.

With practice, it will change your life just as surely as a weeklong sit on a mountaintop.


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