Thanksgiving is only a few days away! Many of us are preparing for the holiday feast, volunteering to ensure others receive a meal this week, and frantically planning with family. While there is much to be celebrated during Thanksgiving, it is often accompanied by chaos – whether from dealing with family stressors or wanting everything to be perfect for the big meal. Either way, the holidays are just as stressful as they are exciting.

In the midst of all this chaos, it is easy to forget what the true Thanksgiving celebration is all about – connectedness, gratitude, and joy. Our inability to be present and aware of all that we have during the stress of this special day limits our gratitude. It is vital that we create time to honor, cultivate, and thank the universe for all that we have, both material items and physical connections to those around us.

On a day to day basis, we cannot always see the gifts we have received. Sure, we can hold up physical objects in our home and remember who gave us that gift, but there is so much more in our lives that we have. To be grateful for those things in our lives, we must learn to see these things as gifts. For example, the weekly lunch outings with family members that live close by – that is a blessing. The people in our lives that act as a support system whenever we are in need of love and understanding are also a gift that increases our well being. Even having a job that provides income to purchase necessities in our homes and life are a gift given to us.

There is no better time than the week of Thanksgiving to start shifting the perspective of your heart and mind towards one of gratefulness for all the gifts in your life. Even when life feels overwhelming, exhausting, and downright frustrating, it is important to continuously strive to remember and honor the value in all things in life. This mindset is what Thanksgiving truly is at its core. Even if the dinner gets burned, or certain family members continue to be stressful, we must remember that our attitude towards life and our ability to be grateful for all gifts – especially our family and friends coming together – is what continues to connect us to our loved ones, every day of the year.

A Thanksgiving Meditation

This week set some time aside to honor your gifts, your connectedness to other human beings (and furry loved ones), and your abundance – to cherish all that you have in your life. Use this meditation to honor your relationships of the past, present, and future, for every person that has entered your life has played a role in impacting who you are today.

Start by sitting in a nice, comfortable, and warm place. Light some candles or incenses, especially if they remind you of the wonderful fall season. With your eyes closed, take a few deep, slow breathes. Inhale, exhale. Start to feel your breath move through your entire body, from the toes of your feet, through your legs, up into your stomach, into your chest, and out the top of your head. Keep visualizing your breath moving through you, lighting up, and warming you. This simple act of breathing is a grounding tool that reminds you of your connection to all living things.

As you continue your breaths, focus on the present moment, not holding on too tight to the past or jumping to far into the future – be where you are right now. As you become aware of where you are, how you are feeling, and what you are seeing with closed eyes in this present moment, breathe in, then breathe out. Reflect on the gifts in your life, both material and emotional. Connect to all those wonderful people in your life with your positive thoughts and energy.

With each inhale, remember all the gifts you have in your life. With each exhale, repeat the mantra “I am grateful.”

Give thanks to your mind for all the work it does.

Give thanks to your body for being physically able to support your love of life.

Give thanks to your breath for always flowing well.

Give thanks to your feelings and emotions for allowing you to experience human life in a meaningful way.

Give thanks to the people in your life who are always there when you need it most; to the people who you may not be close to anymore, but you are lucky to have met; to the people who have passed on and are always near you.

Give thanks to your job, your health, and your income, even if it isn’t much.

Give thanks to the universe for all that it does, even if you do not understand it.

Remember that this energy and breath of thankfulness, connectedness, and joy is constantly flowing through you, helping to balance, restore, regenerate, and heal. Be thankful today for all that you have, all that you are, and all that life has given to you and continues to offer you. Feel your heart open with joy, as it flows through your body. Continue your slow, grateful breaths as you extend your heart, your joy, and your gratitude towards those in your life.

As you slowly start to awaken from this restful meditation, open your eyes to the world around you. Your physical surroundings and social awareness are coming back. As your mind starts to wander back to all that needs to be done during this busy week, remember the importance of being present, of being with those that you truly love. Breathe in gratitude, and exhale love all week – and spread this grateful energy into every aspect of your life and of the lives of those around you.