Ahhh, yes, so you got a dose of pure, heart-opening gratitude, now, did you? Nothing like it! I have a sneaking suspicion that this state of grace you entered, through focusing on gratitude, may be the ultimate spiritual experience, leading to interpersonal kindness, generosity and compassionate, world-redeeming behavior - if only we could bottle it and sprinkle it on everyone!
A lot of my imagery focuses on gratitude but doesn’t necessarily stay there - I tend to use it as a way of opening the heart and getting the compassion juices flowing, so that some goal of healing - physical or emotional - can be reached. It may be strongest on the Healing Trauma imagery, but it’s certainly on Weight Loss, Stop Smoking,Surgery, Self-Confidence - well, all of them, really.
But for that pure experience of open-hearted gratitude, you may want to try some of the loving kindness meditations on Bodhipaksa’s Guided Meditations for Calmness, Awareness & Love, where he explores the 5 stages of loving kindness meditation (he also offers several breathing meditations on this CD and a 20-minute walking meditation). I think he’s the real deal and I love his voice (which, despite the exotic name, has a surprise Scottish accent).
And of course, I have to mention Jack Kornfield’s work - to my mind, he’s Mr. Loving-kindess himself, and his work often leads to that spontaneous feeling you describe. I like his Beginner’s Guide to Forgiveness: How to Free Your Heart & Awaken Compassion. Even though it’s geared toward forgiveness (nothing wrong with that) it often bestows the larger blessing of an open heart, and of course it’s there that we find our own high-test, all-encompassing, uber-healing version of gratitude and connectivity with the whole.
But don’t be surprised if you don’t immediately recapture that awesome feeling, Leah. Sometimes it plays hide and seek with us, and perversely eludes us - especially when we’re most desirous of it. Just be patient, keep practicing gratitude in whatever way makes sense to you, and know that this feeling, this experience, is there. You’ve accessed it. You’ve met. You know it and it knows you. It’s set up residence somewhere in your heart. You haven’t lost it. And really, holding that image of how you felt - that’s all you ultimately need.