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Renew your sense of gratitude by remembering acts of kindness, with Social scientist and meditation teacher Eve Ekman.
How to Do This Practice:
- Begin the practice by focusing on your breath and settling your mind and body. Notice any physical sensations that arise.
- Shift your attention away from your body, recalling a time in the last week where you received kindness. Think about the details of the event, and notice how you react to this kindness.
- Next, focus on a recent experience where you extended kindness. As you relive this event in your mind, allow yourself to be filled with the feeling of kindness.
- Reconnect with the physical sensations in your body, acknowledging that it is full of gratitude.
Today’s Happiness Break host:
Eve Ekman is a contemplative social scientist and meditation teacher from San Francisco, California.
Learn more about Eve’s work: https://tinyurl.com/2vhuarh8
Find out about Eve’s Emotional trainings with Cultivating Emotional Balance: https://tinyurl.com/5n95m7yx
Explore Eve’s Project, The Atlas of Emotions: https://tinyurl.com/mt75ytm3
Follow Eve on Facebook: https://tinyurl.com/3txahape
More resources from The Greater Good Science Center:
How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain: https://tinyurl.com/2f78cywf
Tips for Keeping a Gratitude Journal: https://tinyurl.com/4uyu9pud
Why Gratitude Is Good: https://tinyurl.com/5n88p589
How Gratitude Motivates Us to Become Better People: https://tinyurl.com/3jzr7jfm
Three Surprising Ways That Gratitude Works at Work: https://tinyurl.com/4f5m9hde
We love hearing from you! How do you express gratitude? Email us at email@example.com or use the hashtag #happinesspod.
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We’re living through a mental health crisis. Between the stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness, burnout — we all could use a break to feel better. That’s where Happiness Break comes in. In each biweekly podcast episode, instructors guide you through research-backed practices and meditations that you can do in real-time. These relaxing and uplifting practices have been shown in a lab to help you cultivate calm, compassion, connection, mindfulness, and more — what the latest science says will directly support your well-being. All in less than ten minutes. A little break in your day.
Dacher Keltner: You’re listening to Happiness Break, a series by the Science of Happiness, where we take a few minutes out of the day to try a practice shown by science to support our well-being. I’m Dacher Keltner, welcome.
Today’s Happiness Break is a gratitude meditation – one that focuses on recalling acts of kindness that we’ve received. In doing so, studies show, we’re countering our biases to ruminate on the bad.
We also know from studies that experiencing and expressing gratitude can reduce inflammation, lower cortisol levels, and help us form stronger relationships – one of the most significant determinants of health.
This meditation is led by Dr. Eve Ekman, a contemplative social scientist and meditation teacher, who I happen to have known since she was seven years old. Here’s Eve.
Eve Ekman: I’m Eve Ekman, I’m going to offer you a meditation on gratitude, one that focuses on feeling gratitude for acts of kindness, both acts that we receive and acts that we extend, of kindness towards others.
Let’s begin by settling the body and mind. Feel the whole body being supported by the chair or couch or floor beneath you.
As we breathe in, we have a sense of really being able to expand and extend our breath.
As we breathe out, we allow the breath to be a bit longer, settling in.
Two more breaths here, extending the inhale just as much as feels comfortable, and lengthening the exhale.
And taking a moment to just notice the sensations in the body, noticing what it feels like to be in the body from within the body itself. So noticing maybe the area of the chest or belly. Noticing the face, not as though we’re looking down upon these areas, but feeling them from within the body.
Now we’ll shift our attention and awareness away from the body and to memory, imagination, and the mind. Consider a time in the last week when you received kindness. This could be something so simple, maybe it was a supportive text, maybe someone reached out and helped you with a big bag. Just consider a simple act of kindness that you received in this last week, and recall the details.
Who was involved? What happened? What were you thinking and feeling?
Often when we bring to mind a memory of kindness, we start to have a sense of that kindness right here. Maybe there’s a smile on the lips or even a feeling of a smile at the heart. A simple appreciation for the kindness of another being.
Gently releasing this memory and allowing it to just dissipate into the background. Shifting now to thinking of a time in the last week or so in which we extended kindness. Maybe you were kind to a family member or friend or colleague. Again, it could be something so simple, some kind words, maybe showing up with a favorite treat. Bring to mind this example and, again, remember the details vividly. Make it real. Who was involved? What were you seeing and feeling and thinking? What was it like to extend kindness? Take a couple moments here and just savor this feeling of remembering kindness.
So often we move through life and we miss remembering or seeing all these simple acts of kindness happening everywhere around us. Consider setting an intention for the next day or two ahead of really noticing the kindness. The kindness we’re receiving, the kindness we’re extending. Maybe even kindness we see between two other people. And give yourself this chance to savor that feeling of observing kindness. Feeling its goodness.
Connect with the sensations in the body. Maybe notice how it feels in the face and the chest and the belly. Maybe you can be aware of the sensations of gratitude, appreciation. Linger a couple breaths more, just really feeling as you breathe in, this is a body of gratitude. And as you breathe out, this is a body of gratitude.
Dacher Keltner: That was Eve Ekman. Thanks for joining us on this happiness break. We’re grateful for each of you. Have a great day.