In appreciating our neighbor, we’re participating in something truly sacred. ~ Fred Rogers
On one level, appreciation might seem synonymous with thankfulness. We often use phrases like thank you and I appreciate you interchangeably. But whereas thankfulness can feel more externally oriented and often begs a “for,” appreciation feels like just as much of an internally directed affirmation as it does an outward acknowledgment: I appreciate you implies I value you. It commands a loving generosity of attention that stems from our acknowledging the inherent worth in another being (or ourselves). And in doing so both the bearer of appreciation and the object expand. In this way, appreciation is a generative capacity that reinforces our interconnectedness.
The following practice invites us to direct our loving attention toward that which we appreciate:
- Find a comfortable position. Gently close your eyes or assume a soft gaze. Take a few intentional breaths.
- Call to mind someone you love. With the generous attention of your mind’s eye, form a clear image of this person. Note specific aspects of this person that feel especially meaningful to you. You might think of physical traits, their demeanor, any interactions you’ve had with them. Now rest in appreciation for this person, simply as they are. Say silently or aloud: “I appreciate you.”
- Call to mind a person whom you wouldn’t consider a loved one but with whom you have repeated interactions, perhaps a coworker, a cashier at the store, or someone you receive services from such as your mechanic or hairdresser. With the loving attention of your mind’s eye, form a clear image of this person. Note specific aspects that feel especially meaningful to you. Now rest in appreciation for this person, simply as they are. Say silently or aloud: “I appreciate you.”
- Call to mind a non-human being that feels special to you, perhaps a plant or an animal you often encounter. With the loving attention of your mind’s eye, form a clear image of this being. Note specific aspects you value or that feel especially meaningful to you. Now rest in appreciation for this special being simply as they are. Say silently or aloud: “I appreciate you.”
- Place your hands on your heart and sense into the feeling of this space. How does your appreciation of others feel in your body? Notice what arises. Notice what appreciation inspires in you and how you might be moved to act on what you feel.
- Gently bring awareness back to where your body is, and close your practice in a way that feels meaningful to you.
You might also use the recording below to guide you in this practice:
Meditation created and narrated by Rose Zonetti (4:24)