Thanksgiving meditation

Offer gratitude to every part of your body in this heartfelt meditation, packed full of anatomical gems, from Jennilee Toner.

gratitude meditiation jennilee toner

Today is a beautiful, sunny, not-too-cold Fall day in New York. As my train heads down the Hudson River towards the airport, I am filled with so much gratitude for my life: my family, my friends, my career, and most of all, the strength, suppleness and radiance of my healthy body.

Gratitude meditation for the whole body

Inspired by the gratitude holiday in the States (Thanksgiving) I wanted to offer my own thanks in this ‘anatomical gems’ meditation, which can be listened to in Savasana. You can find the script below the video if you’d like to use it yourself:

Rest your body.
Exhale and rest this perfectly working organism that is you.
Soften and relax.

Exhale all the way down into your toes.
Ah, those precious toes of yours. Inhale and become aware of your big toe.
Experience big toe liver & spleen meridian love here.
Exhale and release any worry, anger or frustration from your inner and outer big toe.
Inhale instead well-being, love, 
kindness and compassion.
Become aware of your second toe.
Send your second toe and stomach meridian some breaths of gratitude.
Here, exhale any worry, anxiousness or suspicion.
Inhale the experience of being more open, trusting and caring.
There’s no meridian at the middle toe – just send big thanks for being such a good looking toe. Send appreciation to the second to last toe and gallbladder meridian.
Inhale for courage.
Exhale for good sleep.
Hello, little toe – thanks for being The Guardian of Peace.
Inhale here into a happy bladder meridian and as you exhale, feel absolutely no fear.
The bottom of your feet: happy, so very happy plantar fascia.
Here, in the center, the kidney meridian is known as your Root of Life!
Exhale any fear, loneliness or insecurity from the center of the bottom of each foot.
Inhale wisdom, 
clear-perception and self-understanding.

Whole Feet. Thank you strong and capable feet.
Inhale gratitude into your left foot: the whole left side of your body is receiving this.
Inhale gratitude into your right foot: the whole right side of your body is receiving this.

Bring your awareness up to your ankles.
Inhale gratitude for the bone-stacking talus and calcaneus bones.
“Ankle bones – thank you for holding up the weight of my whole body!”
As your shins and calf muscles hug your lower leg bones (tibia and her little sister, fibula), send an energetic hug to them for all the stabilizing and flexing (all the better for balancing, walking, running and dancing!)

Sip gratitude inhales now into your knees.
One sip, two sips, another sip of gratitude right into your knees.
“Knees…oh how I love 
thee! Your insides and your outsides, your creaking and your gliding: thanks for letting me hinge you in Warrior Pose, wrap you in Eagle Pose and extend you in Big Toe Hold Pose!”

Inhale into the awesomeness that is just above the knees – the thighs!
Such strong and supple thighs!
Three muscles of the hamstrings in the back for knee flexing, four muscles of the quadriceps in the front for knee extending, five muscles of the inner thigh for adduction and MUCH LOVE to the stabilizing fascia of the IT Band on the outer thigh.
So much gratitude for these leg movers and rump shakers.
Big inhale.
Big exhale.

Move your awareness now into the hips and pelvic area.
Send so much gratitude towards both psoas muscles…major hip flexor.
The psoas is the one muscle that attaches the femur, the longest bone in the human body, directly to the spine. It is a muscle that can hold onto to much fear and trauma.
Exhale, send love to your psoas and release any fear or trauma long-held in the PSOAS. Inhale a sense of tremendous safety and complete well-being.

To the outer hip send gratitude.
“Gluteus medius is the outer hip muscle that helps in both moving and stabilizing the femur in the hip joint. “Gluteus Medius, you are my walking muscle, my running muscle, my balancing muscle. I send you so much love and appreciation for all that you do.”

Into the pelvic floor muscles we send our attention. “I hope all my Mula Bandha-ing has toned and lifted you well. Thank you pelvic floor muscles for supporting my innards!”

Now, gratitude journey your way through the layers of your core muscles: your eight-pack in the front (rectus abdominus) – they are in there somewhere, your twisting torso muscles (external and internal obliques), your deep support system of the transverse abdominal muscles (the ultimate holding and hugging of your viscera/organs), and your deep and powerful erector spinae muscles. All this yoga has made you so strong and supportive! “Thank you strong and supple core for keeping me safe as I move freely and playfully through all planes of movement!”

Big inhale.
Big exhale. 
Expanding your awareness into your abdominal cavity and all the organs housed lovingly there: Reproductive organs – inhale into your immense capacity to create something (a song, a dance, a meal, a life, a friendship…ANYTHING) on this earth. Digestive organs – thank you for helping me digest and assimilate all of life – all that I see, hear, feel, eat, drink and know!
Elimination organs – thank you for helping me get rid of my Dukkha!

Encourage a very big breath here at the diaphragm,
A longer, slower and SWEETER breath here at this magnificent major muscle of breathing moves up and down your torso.
“Thank you diaphragm for massaging my abdominal organs when I deeply inhale and thank you for squeezing out all the stale air from my lungs (making room for more goodness!) when I fully exhale.”
So much gratitude for ribs and lungs, “Thanks for making room for more oxygen to enter my body…oxygen is the ultimate healer!”
“And lungs, thanks for nestling and hugging my heart. I sure do appreciate it!”

Take a few moments here to feel so grateful for this beautiful body of yours. This sweet and miraculous existence of yours.

Rest your awareness at your heart space.
Your physical heart is situated a little more to the left side of your chest and your spiritual heart is said to be just to the right of your physical heart.
Take a few moments here to feel so grateful for this beautiful body of yours.
This sweet and miraculous existence of yours. This moment, right here and right now, where the magic of life is happening inside you and all around you.
Feel that gratitude expand and fill every cell of your body…of all the areas we already thanked and the rest that is still to come.
So. Much. Appreciation.
So. Much. Love.

From the heart, let your awareness expand into the fabulous complicated-ness of your shoulder girdle. All the muscles that move your upper arm bone (the very funny humorous bone) in the spacious and shallow mobile socket made by the clavicle and scapula; flexion, extension, abduction, adduction, internal rotation and external rotation – it’s how we express ourselves – both in our postures on the mat and in our relationship to life off it.
Inhale gratitude into shoulder movers.
Exhale so many thanks for shoulder stabilizers.
Downdog, plank, chaturanga, arm balances, inversions – without our shoulder stabilizers where would we be?

Breathe into your elbows.
Elbows are hinge joints and just don’t rotate. Aren’t you grateful to know that? So not as to try. Forearms rotate…but for some not so much.
“So grateful I know my own body’s limitation and its infinite possibilities.”

Breathe some love into the bones of your wrist. “Carpal bones…aren’t you glad I brought you to yoga so that you could become once again the weight-bearing bones you were when I was a crawling and climbing as a child?”

Inhale open your hands nice and wide (stretch the webbing between the fingers). Exhale…completely relax your hands and fingers.
Thank you for the holding, the clasping, the snapping, the clapping, the pressing, the pulling, and the big-toe holding. Thank you for all your gesturing and expressing. Thank you hands.”

Breathe into your thumbs and lung meridian, “I exhale and let go of all sadness and all grief. I am so grateful to have lived and loved and lost. To feel so deeply I am grateful.”
Breathe into your index fingers and large intestine meridian, “I exhale and let go of distress, 
apathy and feelings of low self-esteem. I inhale an amazing sense of well-being. Breathe into your middle fingers and pericardium meridian – known as the King’s Bodyguard. “Thank you pericardium for wrapping yourself around and protecting my physical heart. I inhale feelings of quiet joy and equilibrium.”
Ring finger is part of the Triple Burner meridian – governs all that we take in, all that we assimilate and all that we eliminate. “I inhale life, I pause and let life be inside me and then I exhale and freely let go of old life within me.” Breathe into your little fingers and heart meridian – thank you for the loving, thank you for the laughter, thank you for the tranquility, thank you for the gentleness.

From your fingers move you awareness now above your heart to your throat. So much gratitude for the larynx (voicebox – so I can communicate my truth), the trachea (for oxygen-rich air to pass into my lungs), and the oesophagus (for the intake and passageway of food into my belly). Thank you butterfly-shaped thyroid for keeping my body’s metabolism in check.

Thank you face.
For eyes to see the beauty all around me.
For a nose to sniff and smell (to identify!)
For lips to lick and pucker up to kiss.
For a tongue that tastes life as it dissolves.

Thank you ears for hearing, for listening.

Thank you brain and spinal cord for receiving information from outside and inside my body, and responding in appropriate ways as you see fit for my overall health and well-being.

Thank you pineal gland for sensing time and seasons. Thank you pituitary gland for being the master of all endocrine glands – for being in charge of my bodily functions and for my overall well-being. For that…I really thank you!

Thank you whole body. From bones to skin and everything in between that wraps and winds and weaves… I am so grateful.

Thank you whole body.
From bones to skin and everything in between that wraps and winds and weaves (thank you fascia)…
I am so grateful.
Thank you for all that you do and all that you have ever done.
We are and have always been in this together.
I cherish you and want to treat you well.
I want to nourish you and massage you and give you lots and lots of yoga.
I want to challenge you so you’re strong.
I want to give you rest so you can then be soft.
Above all, I want to listen to you…and hear what exactly it is that you need.

I love you body.
I love all of you.
I love every single part of you.
Thank you.

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Jennilee TonerJennilee has the best job in the world…travelling the world and teaching four of her passions: yoga, human anatomy, injury prevention, and mythology of the asanas.