Appreciation goes a long way towards a good life
Here is a simple meditation of appreciation that will put a smile on your face. You can do it laying down in bed, sitting up in a chair or in the more traditional cross legged or lotus posture. The meditation of appreciation is basically giving thanks to the many parts of your body that are working. You can often tell when a part of the body is working well when you are NOT noticing it. It is only when things don’t work that we become focused upon them. If you’re NOT aware of your back, then it’s probably working fine. If you’re NOT aware of your toes, then they are likely working fine. If you have a headache, you’re aware of your head—and something is wrong. If you sprained an ankle, you are aware of your ankle—and something is wrong. The meditation of appreciation affords us a time to focus on what does work– when it works. We become aware of areas we would normally be ignoring. It’s much like a disruptive child in a classroom who gets the attention. If we learn to give attention to the positive behaviors of children rather than only when a child misbehaves, we reinforce that positive behavior. It’s the philosophy of “catch them being good.”
To start the meditation of appreciation, simply relax in any comfortable posture. Take a few deep inhalations and exhalations. You can do this meditation with your eyes closed or open. Either way, focus briefly on your feet and ankles and say, internally, “thank you.” You can also say “thank you” externally if you so choose. Of course, you need to have some semblance of authenticity when you say this. It’ can’t be like a moody, broody teenager apologizing to an adult. There needs to be a genuine sense of appreciation for the feet and all that they do for you. It’s truly remarkable what the feet do and they certainly do deserve appreciation! You can even say “thank you” to each toe if you choose. From the feet and ankles move up to the knees. Focus on the knees and say “thank you.” Then move up to the pelvis region which is a very complicated area housing not only the sexual organs but is also the seat of elimination which is terribly important. It is also a central point of balance. Focus on the pelvis region and the legs as a whole and say “thank you.” You need not know all the various functions and components of each area you are thanking. It is enough that you have a general sense of the area and a recognition that it’s functioning is very important in your life.
From the pelvic region move up to the abdomen. Here is the seat of digestion and our “guts.” Courage, will power, decision making are the psychological associations to the physical process of digestion which takes place in this area. With your mind focused easily on your abdomen, say “thank you.” Then move up to the chest. Our respiratory and circulatory systems are housed in this area. Psychologically, it is our emotional center, the heart center. It is a treasure chest. All day long you hardly give the functions of this area of your body a thought. Now you can take just a brief second and say “thank you” for all that it does day and night, week after week, month after month, year after year, often without so much as a simple “thank you.” Now, you can change that and say “thank you.”
The next area is arms and hands. Remarkable appendages wouldn’t you agree? If you have ever been without their use for a while, like a broken arm or hand, or even a broken finger, you know how valuable they are. Simply be aware of these limbs and the extremities and say “thank you.” If you choose, you can say “thank you” to each finger.
Now move up to the throat. Another complex area. No need to focus on all the functions. Simply be aware of the throat area and say “thank you.” And then to the head(and that marvelous, mysterious, magnificient brain it houses). Wow. What a place! “Thank you!” If you choose, you can also focus on the ears, the eyes, the nose, the tongue, the teeth and whatever other specific components in the head area to which you would like to acknowledge appreciation. Next give a “thank you” to the entire spinal column. Also, while you’re at it, give a “thank you” to all the bones in the body. No need to get elaborate. Just think of your spinal column and all the bones in the body and say “thank you.”
Then, let your awareness envelope the skin covering your whole body. The skin is actually an organ and serves numerous important functions. Be aware of the skin from the top of your head to the soles of your feet and say “thank you.” Finally, give a “thank you” to the whole complex system that is your body.
To end, take a few deep inhalations and exhalations – and that’s it. You’ve completed the meditation of appreciation. It only need take a few minutes. As you become increasingly familiar with the process, you may begin to notice positive feelings and sensations in the body when you are appreciating it. You may find yourself smiling, maybe even laughing – and happy. That’s what often happens with appreciation.
This meditation should be conducted without any effort. It is not a concentration meditation; there should be no force involved. It’s just a few minutes of putting your attention on different parts of the body and saying, sincerely, “thank you.”
If there are parts of your body that aren’t working so well, you can still appreciate it even if it’s only partially working. In fact, not working well is a signal for help, which itself suggests its’ working well by asking for help. You can thank a misbehaving child for what is being done correctly even if it’s only half the time. The body, like the misbehaving child, is a manifestation of intelligence and will respond favorably to positive attention.