Grace. A beautiful, gentle way of allowing yourself to feel what you feel and be with it in such a tender, caring, open way that your emotions don't need to spill out of you in an explosion of regretful reactions. Grace is sublime. The term grace is used A LOT. It can mean self-compassion, being tender with yourself, self-kindness, or giving your own heart the same support when pain is present as you would give a good friend.
Grace doesn't come easily for most and takes practice to develop. And it's tough to access when our body/mind/heart is caught in a stress reaction. It is gained with the cultivation of mindfulness, a mature sense of spirituality and emotional regulation. Giving yourself grace involves acknowledgment and action. It is not passive.
It can be helpful to acknowledge the need for grace first (awareness):
- Dang that was tough
- Ouch that hurts
- Overwhelm is here
- Anxiety is present
- Stress feels really big right now
- I am freaking out
This is where mindfulness can help us calm our nervous system down and see that grace is even an option. The moment we can label what is happening we've taken a helpful step into having more awareness and perspective about the experience.
Then bringing in the action of kindness or self-compassion to express the grace is the next step.
- Mindful breathing (noticing the sensations of the breath as they are)
- Taking a break, going for a walk, drinking a glass of water
- Soothing touch like a hand on your heart or a gentle smile brought to the face
- Writing about how you're relating to the experience and what could help you process the stress
- Words like "I'm basically okay" or "I care about this" can help send you heart some grace
- Connecting with a friend in conversation
- Practicing the mindfulness tool RAIN
- Engaging in exercise to help metabolize the stress
This is where our tender wing of mindfulness expresses itself. You see that you're in pain (whether that is physical or emotional) and you can make a decision to sooth yourself.
Spending a few minutes reflecting about how grace shows up in your life can be helpful. How do you know when you need it? What actively soothes you? What helps you accept grace? What words, touch or behaviors express grace? What gets in the way? What works best for you?
You're likely experiencing grace in tiny ways throughout your day. Notice how it shows up in small tendrils for you - it's there every time you choose not to react immediately when your teenager surprises you or when you can remain calm through a traffic jam. It’s there when you can laugh and not take yourself too seriously or when you ask for help. It’s there and it can be strengthened. Trust your capacity to make it grow.
Intention, awareness, grace - the first three blogs about beginning to live mindfully.
Check out a 3-minute guided meditation: A Moment of Grace.
Current classes and offerings listed here.
Leave a comment, let me know what grace looks like for you.