"I am Grateful." You've probably heard this suggested mantra or meditation before, but I don't like it.
Don't get me wrong. Practicing gratitude is wonderful, and listing or chanting specific things you are grateful for is a nice practice. It simply doesn't work for me. I recently discovered a meditation technique that is more effective and more realistic, and I want to share it with you. I also love it because I can do it without getting out of bed. But more on that later.
I started practicing yoga and meditation before it was cool. I loved the physical asana (postural) practice, but viewed meditation as something that was time-consuming, unrelatable, or full of Sanskrit phrases that were supposed to have some profound effect on me, but didn't deliver. The asana practice would keep me in shape. But meditation? Well...I can do without it, I thought. I didn't care as much about my mind as I did my body.
However, I soon realized that my physical yoga practice began to slip the moment "the wave," as my yoga teacher Coby Kozlowski likes to say, got a little turbulent to surf on. I would feel emotions like sorrow, despair or loss so profoundly and didn't know how to handle these emotional waves. I thought. to myself, Yoga is supposed to help me deal with these emotions. I'm breathing for goodness sake! What more can I do? Why do I still feel awful?
Here's the thing: the body and mind are connected. I know, shocking, but it's true. I was not taking care of my mind, which was affecting me during my practice. So I decided to give in and try meditation. I told myself that if I am going to practice this ancient, mentally strengthening, and helpful tool proved by many, many before me, then it was going to have to be on my terms. So sure enough, I stumbled upon the very popular gratitude meditation.
I practiced. I did! And I told the universe what I was grateful for every day. But it didn't do much for me. It was like getting my favorite latte or tea warm, but not hot, or stepping into a lukewarm bath. Good enough, but meh, not great. I thought, What about everything else? Sure, I am grateful for my house, health, family, and friends, but what about everything else in my life? Where does that fit in?
Fast forward until a few weeks ago when I was introduced to something that finally works for me. It's called the Welcoming Meditation, developed by meditation master Lorin Roche, as introduced to me by my teacher Coby Kozlowski. Rather than repeating the phrase "I am grateful," I use the phrase "I welcome." I welcome my friends, family, and all the great things in my life.
I welcome the tummy that I wish was a little flatter, and hips that I want to be a little smaller. I welcome the bill that shows up today that I might not be able to pay. I welcome the approaching deadline. I welcome the uncomfortable conversation I need to have with my lover. I welcome my emotions, high and low. I welcome it all.
To me it feels so much more complete. And it allows me to welcome all of the things in my life without complicating it by trying to force gratitude for them. I don't have to like it in order to welcome it.
As I'm learning, meditation is very personal. And what works for me may not work the same way for everyone. But I didn't know that until I tried something new.
Here is the Welcoming Meditation for you to try:
When you open your eyes in the morning, before jumping out of bed, take five minutes with your hand on your heart and say to yourself, "I welcome..." Fill in the blank with whatever comes to your mind. Keep going for a few minutes, and welcome all the thoughts, emotions, parts of you, and things in your life.
How do you feel?
written by Danielle Liberatore