“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”

Here is a simple meditation that anybody can use. This would be a good place to start for someone with no previous experience with meditation.

Sit up straight or lie on your back. Place one hand on your belly and the other on your heart.

As you breathe, feel the hand on your belly moving in and out with the movement of your belly. The hand on your heart moves not at all. As you breath this way, your diaphragm relaxes with the in-breath, so that your lungs can expand more fully. This abdominal breathing also stimulates your body’s relaxation response.

As you breathe, feel the breath in your throat. Perhaps you even breathe so that you can hear the breath passing through your throat. To start with, you might even intentionally make a sound with the out-breath as if you were making an “AH” sound, not with your vocal cords, but just your throat. It is as if wind were blowing through a pipe.

Allow your out-breath to become slower and a little deeper. Allow your in-breath to just happen naturally.

Now imagine that your breath is flowing out of your heart through the hand you have placed there, and the breath is accompanied by the thought of appreciation.

Repeat the word “Appreciation” in your mind over and over and just keep your mind focused on the experience of the emotion of appreciation.

You might also create a picture in your mind of someone you appreciate. This person you are visualizing could be a real person, living or dead. Or you could visualize a spiritual being of your choice, perhaps Jesus or Buddha, a saint, spiritual master or guru—someone who embodies truth, wisdom, and compassion for you. Imagine them in front of you. As you breathe out, imagine that appreciation flows from your heart to theirs. You can picture this as a glowing light that shines from your heart to theirs. You may also imagine that the light from this other person’s heart shines back to you.

As you finish, express your gratitude in a few words of thanks and notice the state of your body, mind and emotions. You may feel more relaxed. Your mind may feel clearer, and you may notice that the experience of appreciation lifts your emotions.

One way to have a happier life is to spend more time in the states of appreciation, gratitude and compassion.

For another approach to appreciation see: Wildmind Buddhist Meditation

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© 2006 Tom Barrett