Meditation is getting a lot of attention these days from unlikely places.
It’s no longer considered the practices of the mystics, but an essential tool for managing stress and other impacts of modern life.
Meditation helps regulate the stress response, thereby suppressing chronic inflammation states and maintaining a healthy gut-barrier function. It can also play a role in slowing the aging process, reducing self-centeredness, and balancing emotions.
A gratitude-based meditation can reduce activity in the parts of the brain associated with negative emotions, blame, and criticism. It can increase activity in areas related to well-being and other positive states of mind.
A heart-based meditation practice rooted in gratitude can be an effective tool for personal growth, increasing life satisfaction and a sense of well-being while decreasing stress levels, and managing emotions when disappointment arises.
What exactly is gratitude?
In the Autoimmune Summit interview, I talk about how a simple gratitude practice of just ten minutes a day has many health benefits, and that so often I hear “But I don’t feel grateful, life has been so unfair!”
When life isn’t going as planned, it can seem like focusing on gratitude is trying to put on a happy face or make lemonade out of lemons when, in fact, it’s quite different. Gratitude researchers have found that gratitude has many forms, including:
- The feeling you get when someone helps you out
- A general appreciation for what you have
- Appreciation for others
- A feeling of awe when encountering beauty
- An expression toward others
- Feeling positive in the present with what is
- Enjoying what you have from the sense that life is short
- From social comparisons
Gratitude relates to appreciating what is positive in the world and has been defined as distinct from other emotions such as optimism, hope, and trust or “the appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to oneself and represents a general state of thankfulness and/or appreciation”.
Higher levels of life satisfaction and positive health outcomes are associated with those who report experiencing gratitude, including reduced stress levels and improved quality of sleep.
In one study, participants were asked to either write letters of gratitude or about the events of the past week. Those who wrote letters of gratitude demonstrated increases in well-being compared to the other group.
In another study, veterans with PTSD demonstrated greater capacity for emotional regulation and a decrease in symptoms after participating in a gratitude practice.
There are a variety of evidence-based gratitude practices that are easy to do:
- Gratitude journaling
- Thinking about someone you feel grateful for
- Meditating on gratitude
- Writing gratitude / thank you letters
- Counting your blessings
The BodyAttune approach to meditation uses a breath practice that focuses on the body sensations that arise when feeling positive emotions such as gratitude.
The practice helps reduce negative rumination and increase heart-brain coupling, which is associated with stress and inflammation reduction.
Our body is a dynamic system of thoughts, feelings, experiences, and biology. The heart itself is the natural commander of this dynamic system otherwise known as the human body. Every health and healing system since the dawn of man has recognized the importance of the heart as an indicator of our general state of health.
For instance, our heartbeat and blood pressure are the first things a traditional allopathic doctor will measure in an office visit. Since ancient times, Chinese medicine places the heart in the role of commander of the blood and houses the spirit.
The heart is considered the emperor of the kingdom who can oversee from high and is rarely if ever treated directly, as it is seen as inherently balanced and that all disease and dysfunction are from some other part coming into disharmony rather than the heart itself.
In eastern traditions, it is the place of our highest wisdom, the part of our soul that is connected to the eternal, reflected in the experience of our inner witness – the aspect of us that can perform self-observation without judgement, conflict, doubt, or indifference, the part of ourselves that can be cultivated through meditation, self-reflection, and observation without reactivity.
Research demonstrates the electromagnetic field (EMF) of the heart is the strongest in the entire body yet can become weakened when exposed to chronic stress.
Download the Radiant Human Meditation:
In this Radiant Human Meditation basic practice, all resources are called back into the heart complex, a strong spiraling vortex of magnetic energy. As the heart-field strengthens, radiant energy will begin to emanate from the heart center.
This is facilitated not only with the breath, clarity of focus, and strong intentions with the conscious observing mind, but also by utilizing the positive radiant frequency contained within the feeling of gratitude. Practicing gratitude can exercise the parts of the brain that help us notice and stay focused on what’s going right and feel less disrupted by life’s disappointments.
We take it in stages.
- First by utilizing a sweeping style of breathing to awaken the observing mind, strengthen the ability to maintain a presence of focus. We allow the observing mind to follow the breath as it moves throughout the body, and as each area of the body is penetrated with the observing mind, we are awakening the consciousness aspects of each area. This can feel a little challenging, as it starts to take the body out of the stress response and into a state of relaxation. This technique can be powerful as a way to calm any feelings of nervousness, stress, or anxiety.
- Then we direct the breath to enter into the heart complex. The breath begins to fortify the electromagnetic field within the heart and we circulate that throughout our body.
- Then we work with the feeling of gratitude. Inviting our breath to merge with the feeling of gratitude within the heart complex, further increasing a positive radiant energy within the heart-field.
The quality of your breath reflects the vitality of your system. All the vitality you could aspire to cultivate is already inside of you just waiting to be liberated. In RHM we are using the breath, our conscious intention to direct the breath, and the act of observing the physical sensations at the level of the breath to shift the state of body and mind into more heart-coherence. As you focus on the physical sensations, the mind become more present and aware of what is happening now and is able to release attachments located in either the past or the future.
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