"Grace is like light.
It is free and always available everywhere.
Faith is the window that opens to welcome it in."
How can we open up to grace? Here are some practical ways to allow the practice of the presence of grace in your everyday life. These actions are simple enough, but not necessarily easy. The more we honor them, give them space and practice the more habitual they will become. Imagine how your life, or the lives of those people who you interact with would be impacted if living these practices became your natural state.
Do something without any expectations
We may be familiar with the idea of realistic expectations or matched expectations. Ways to prepare the psyche to be okay with that is to come and to build lasting relationships. But the idea of no expectations is a little more challenging for us to digest. Even if it is subconscious there is almost always a natural expectation tied to our actions. What would it be like if we were able to disconnect from that and do the next right things simply because it is right and good, without anything in return, not even the hope of validation? Try it. Do something kind, just because. Allow yourself a moment to see how it feels to do so without any expectations.
Forgiveness is something we all want but it not always something we give freely. Went we are hurting, especially when the pain is caused by someone close to us or someone we trust, even if we want to let it go and move on, it can be difficult. Processing those feelings may take time. Honor them with space and grace and then forgive. As Malachy McCourt one said, “Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” Let it go. Take a few deep breaths and release it. You will feel better not carrying the weight of hate and hurt because it is not serving you.
Ask for something you want
It can often feel awkward to ask for something that we want. However, most people are not mind readers. If you never ask, the answer is always no. Holding on to the sense of wanting something but not acting on it can be very heavy and weigh us down. Ask and be willing to accept the answer and then move forward. It is empowering and will feel like setting down a heavy suitcase, regardless of if you actually get the thing you are after or not.
Take a deep breath before you respond
The idea of mindfulness is being in the present moment; aware of what is happening right now and not being worried about what happened in the past or what is going to happen in the future. When we take a deep breath before we respond we are putting space in between the thing that has happened and our reaction. Doing this allows us to be proactive in our response rather than reactive. It allows us to take time to consider how our response will affect others and the impact it will have on us as well, good or bad. Breathe to allow yourself time to think if your response is the message you want to share with the world.
Let go of attachment to the outcome
Aparigraha or non-attachment is the last Yama in Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga. It often translates to non-greed and non-attachment. The yamas are essentially moral guideline by which to live with regard to our relationship with ourselves and the world around us. Letting go of attachment to the outcome is freeing. It means knowing you did your part, the right thing, simply because it was right and just. There is a sense of peace in this practice. Understanding that we can no control others or their reactions allows for non-attachment to come a little more easily. All we can control is ourselves and focusing on the power that comes with that realization allows us to understand the weight of the consequence of our actions as well. Do the best you can with what you have in this moment and then let go of the outcome.
Do something spontaneous and unusual for you
In doing something spontaneous and unusual for ourselves we break the monotony of our day to day. In doing this we are given the gift of a fresh perspective. A clean slate and new eyes to see our life and the blessing it contains, even in spite of the struggles. It also allows us to not take ourselves too seriously. Joy can steam from this as well as a sense of self-love. Honor yourself as a way of practicing grace.
Look for the good in a difficult situation
It is easier to find fault with things in our lives. Human nature leads people to bound over complaining or comparing stories of struggle. It can be a very destructive cycle that has long term effects. While this has been a particularly difficult year, for some more than others, it is more important than ever to look for the good. We get more of what we seek. If we set out naming and claiming all that is difficult and wrong, we will get more struggles. If we look for the good, we will see more and more positives even when things seem so bleak. Ask yourself, what is the best thing that happened to me today? Then ask someone else what the best thing to happen to them today was. Find the good and pass it on.
Practice not knowing (beginners mind)
You don’t know what you don’t know. Simple enough, right. It is not only okay to adopt this mindset it is a form of self-care. We cannot all know everything. Think about the pressure of that as the expectation! Plus, it would make life way less exciting because we would lose the magic of the beginner’s mind. Accepting that you do not know all the things is not only healthy for the ego but it is a practice of grace and self-acceptance. Once you know better, you can do better. Until then embrace the thrill of learning as you live.
List 5 things you are grateful for
The practice of daily gratitude can rewire your brain, that is how powerful it truly is. Begin making note each day of five things you are grateful for and see how it positively impacts your life. This is a wonderful ritual to model for the children in your life. Start this now to help them build their resiliency muscle in the form of gratitude and finding the good.
Practice presence—being right here, right now
Lastly, back to the center of it all. Mindfulness. When we are in the present moment, we are more engaged and can make choices we can be proud of. We are living as the best version of ourselves. Engaged, present, grateful, aware. We are giving that focus to our friends, our families, our co-workers and making them feel heard and loved. Practice presence to live your best life, right now, as it is unfolding before you.
Opening up to grace means to soften, settle and allow something bigger than yourself to take shape.
When we do this, we become all the more aware of our how intertwined we are with nature, one another and a higher power. Regardless of our spiritual beliefs we can all agree that grace, faith and having a scared space to reflect and be still are key components to growth and understanding.
Whether we believe in a God or not, seeing the bigger picture and deeper connection, Unites all humanity.
Model these practice and pass them on to the children in your lives.
Because children are manifestation of it all.