Breath prayer for gratitude

Hal Green

By Hal Green
Giving thanks brings you into the present. The greater your gratitude, the fuller and more joyful, comforting and comforted is your present. Brother David Steindl-Rast said, “As I express my gratitude, I become more deeply aware of it. And the greater my awareness, the greater my need to express it. What happens here is a spiraling ascent, a process of growth in ever expanding circles around a steady center.”

Melody Beattie said, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity… gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

Paul put the centrality of giving thanks in these simple yet profound words: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NRSV).

Gratitude has enormous health benefits. Among them, giving thanks:
1. Unlocks and unleashes a kind of spiritual energy which cannot be accessed other than by means of giving thanks. The end result: a state of “gratitude” or “gratefulness.” Gratitude promotes peace, comfort and life-satisfaction.
2. Opens the heart and mind to the present and the world around you.
3. Tenderizes the heart and prepares it to receive joy and risk love.
4. Generates the sense of personal well-being and that things are as they should be, that ultimately everything will be all right, eternally.
5. Spurs on and strengthens faith and hope.
6. Diminishes boredom, cynicism and skepticism.
7. Alleviates depression, suffering and burnout.


Even though you may not have the power to become grateful instantly or to feel gratitude, as if turning on a light switch, you can always give thanks by word and deed. The amazing thing is that the sheer act of giving thanks by word and deed for the good you have will actually generate gratitude. Voicing and acting out of gratitude, while focusing on positive elements of your life — even if they seem few in number — will generate a sense of gratitude in you.

So just give thanks. As medieval mystic Meister Eckhart said, “If the only prayer you say in your whole life is ‘Thank you,’ that would suffice.” And Albert Einstein said, “There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

Here is a breath prayer for gratitude: sitting comfortably, breathe in the gift of life-sustaining air. Then breathe out simple gratitude for the gift of life itself. Since the Holy Spirit is as the breath of God, imagine God breathing into you, as God did to Adam, and the resurrected Christ did to his disciples. Breathe in the gentle breath of God, silently entering your soul. Breathe out gratitude and joy for God’s freely given breath of the Holy Spirit.

(Contact Hal Green, Ph.D., at

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