Somatic Gratitude: A Practice with the Hands

Expressing gratitude has been shown to improve our overall mood and mental health.  We are creatures oriented toward survival, which sometimes mean that we orient towards things to be wary of.  Practicing gratitude can help you to feel more present and joyful. Sometimes it is easy to be grateful and sometimes it is more difficult.

This practice involves using the hands as a way of cultivating gratitude.

Our hands do so much for us, and we can take them for granted.  This practice is also a way for you to start to come into contact with your body, which is an important part of somatic work and healing.

I recommend that you try this practice while listening to some relaxing music.  I also recommend that you write down how you are feeling overall both before and after you complete this practice to see if it was helpful for you and something you’d like to try again.  Be kind to yourself and enjoy!

  • Begin by grounding yourself in the present moment.  Start paying attention to the sounds in the room, the objects in the room, or your own physical body.  Give yourself the permission to be present and to set aside, for the next few minutes, all of the thoughts and concerns that you had when you started this exercise.

  •  Set an intention to be grateful.  Notice what sensations in your body and any tension that dissipates in your mind as you welcome in this feeling of gratitude.

  • Start paying attention to your hands.  Spend a minute or two looking at your hands and thinking of all the ways that you are connected to them and of all the ways that they support you.

  • Begin drawing your hands.  You can trace your hands on a piece of paper or draw them, whichever you prefer.  Try to do this exercise slowly, maintaining the connection to your hands and feeling gratitude for them.

  • Now start writing down words and sentences of gratitude that you feel connected with your hands.  Spend some time here, and be creative.  It may be easy to come up with three or four things that you are grateful for, but spending more time with this intention and reflection on your hands may start to reveal more and more that you can write down.  You might try reflecting on ways that your hands support you and that your hands help you support others.  You might start reflecting on the different ways that your left hand helps you and that your right hand helps you, or maybe how each individual finger supports you in its way.  The point of this part of the exercise is to take time to explore the nuances of gratitude that you may feel, all the while having the intention to be grateful.

  • Transition to coloring in and/or adding details to the drawings of the hands.  While you are doing so, try to maintain the feeling of gratitude and try to be aware of the words and sentences that you wrote down in the previous part of the exercise.

  • As you finish, start to pay attention to your body and mind once more.  Notice whether you feel different from how you felt when you started this exercise and, if so, how you feel that difference.

Allison is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist and an Associate Professional Clinical Counselor with the Center for Mindful Psychotherapy. She views therapy as a collaborative process that helps you understand how to be the truest version of yourself. She works with adults, couples, and families.  She helps people work through anxiety, depression, relationship issues, career challenges, and trauma. Visit her website, to learn more or reach out via e-mail at to schedule a consultation call.

Associate Marriage and Family Therapist #107189
Associate Professional Clinical Counselor #5316
Supervised by Trisha Rowe, LCSW #13444