Meditation can arrive in a variety of shapes. It is often thought of as sitting in stillness on a pillow, saying “om” with yours eyes closed. And yes, meditating in this manner can be wonderful. For many people it offers opportunities to explore the thoughts, the breath, and the body. However, meditation really is just a practice of quieting with the intention of connection. Connection to self, to source, to someone else. Writing letters is a more active way to meditate. It is similar in a sense to walking and finding a moving meditation. However, writing offers us the added bonus of allowing us to express gratitude. Gratitude helps us to shift our perspectives, develop an abundant mindset, and attract like minded grateful people into our lives! Sign me up! Here are some suggestions for beginning your own Writing Meditation Practice for Gratitude. Who knows, maybe it will lead you to yoga class or a meditation cushion in the near future…

  1. Set up your space. Choose a specific place to write. This should be a place that brings you a sense of calm and is free of distractions. For some people this place may be as silent as a library, while others may prefer some activity and noise around. You may stumble upon this place after some trial and error. I encourage you to try writing in different spaces to eventually find a spot that feels “right” for you. Consider a reading nook, your kitchen table, or an office space. Be sure to have a clean surface to write on without clutter. I write at my dining room table. It is well lit near a large window, close to the record player (I love listening to vinyl while writing), clear of debris and close to anything I may need (pens, stamps, stationery).
  2. Set a timer. With any meditation practice, it is important to ease yourself in. If you over-commit at first, you’ll likely become discouraged or overwhelmed. Start by setting a timer to write for 3 minutes. Eventually bump yourself up to 5, 10, even 30 minutes. You may carve this time out for one letter (depending on how lengthy your narratives tend to be) or to write more brief correspondence to multiple people. Either way, you will find a way to use your time authentically. TIP: If you are choosing to write letters while at work, block this time off on your work calendar as an appointment. You are investing in your professional networking, so value your time and energy.
  3. Set technology aside. Even if you think you can, you can’t. Put the phone on do not disturb, close the laptop, shut off the television white noise. Allow yourself this gift of presence for yourself. Unplug.
  4. Before you put pen to paper, set an intention. I like to close my eyes, breathe slowly, and reflect. Who are you writing to? What is the purpose of this correspondence (to say thanks, celebrate an occasion, update them on your life, tell a story)? Picture this person in your mind’s eye. Consider what makes them unique, how you know each other, what you appreciate about their personality. You may even start to consider what this person needs or hopes to hear from you. Can you offer encouragement, your own experience, or a memory from the past? As you write, try to immerse yourself and your attention on the person to whom you are writing. You may even put on a song or album that reminds you of this person for some additional inspiration.

I hope this letter writing exercise allows you to not only cultivate your own gratitude, but your friendships as well!