According to Brother David Steindl-Rast, Grateful Living requires three simple steps:

  1. Stop. Become present, awake and aware;
  2. Look. Notice, observe, consider, have a direct experience;
  3. Go. Acknowledge, take action, express, and commit to doing something with the opportunity that life presents to you.

Grateful Living is experienced, expressed and reinforced in the doing of our living.

The following Grateful Living practice will help you experience increased gratitude for your massage clients.

Stop. Cease whatever you are doing before you receive a client. Devote your full attention to being still with yourself and slowing down in this moment. Become conscious of your breath as it breathes itself. Put your attention fully on one complete inhale-exhale cycle. Allow your body to soften. Bring your awareness to the present moment and allow yourself to open to all possibility.

Take a few moments to focus, and allow your body to rest comfortably into itself. Consider gently placing your hand, or both hands, on your chest. Notice the sensation of your heart and lungs. Gather your energy fully before you offer it to anyone else. Settle yourself into the awareness of life as an extraordinary gift. The client you are about to receive will benefit hugely from your great fullness, and your gratefulness. Allow yourself to feel grateful for this moment and for the person who is about to enter your space, in need of your attention and healing. You always have more than enough within you to make a needed difference.

Look. Really let yourself notice the vulnerability, needs and presence of the client you are receiving. With your whole heart, imagine what it might be like to arrive to this moment when he or she is completely available for your touch—in need of the very best attention you can muster. Feel the vulnerability and sacredness of the exchange. Appreciate this dynamic with your whole awareness.

Go. Move throughout the next moments remembering that your client’s body is miraculous. He is more than any part; more than even the sum of all his parts. This body in front of you is alive, and it is a miracle. This person is complete and perfect, and yet in need of your healing touch.

Your gift is to see the great fullness of your client, and to pour yourself into tending the gift of her life, just as you see the gift of your own life. Nothing of your great fullness is depleted or compromised by giving yourself fully to your client. You can be made more whole by what you give of yourself from gratefulness.

Reprinted with permission, Massage Magazine, November 2015. To read the article which accompanied this practice, see Give from Great Fullness.

Grateful Gifts - Live Gratefully, Give Gratefully. background image of a curving wooden pathway

Kristi Nelson

Kristi Nelson

About the author

Kristi Nelson is our Ambassador for Grateful Living and the author of Wake Up Grateful: The Transformative Practice of Taking Nothing for Granted. She served as Executive Director at Grateful Living from 2014 - 2022. Her life’s work in the non-profit sector has focused on leading, inspiring, and strengthening organizations committed to progressive social and spiritual change. Being a long-time stage IV cancer survivor moves her every day to support others in living and loving with great fullness of heart.