Gratitude, blessings, healing, happiness, contentment, peace, generosity, love and harmony. Equanimity, poise, composure, forbearance, forgiveness, compassion and empathy. Each of these could be described as a state of grace. Each of these is a response to circumstances and an attitude toward life.
States of grace allow differences and difficulties to exist without condemnation, they allow for friction without animosity, and they allow for things to change, often for the better. Sometimes these states arise by themselves at times when we might have expected something else, for instance when a stranger steps in to lend a hand to someone in need, unasked, gratitude arises. Sometimes we can deliberately engage them. For example, when something we value gets broken by a child at play, we have a choice, we can get angry and cause confusion and fear in the child, or we can remain calm and explain the situation carefully, with compassion and empathy for our own pain and the child’s innocence. In the first instance, the child will remember that you get angry when your things are damaged, in the second instance, the child learns how much you value the things, and also how much you value them as a person – this generates a positive outcome, a state of grace between you.
There are some ways in which we can prepare ourselves for these spontaneous occurrences, to generate the likelihood of these sometimes seemingly unexpected responses to circumstances. We can begin and end each day with a short affirmation of our gratitude for being alive, for all the simple things otherwise taken for granted. We can keep a journal of all the things we notice that we are grateful for. By harnessing the power of manifestation, we can intend for ourselves to remain emotionally composed under any circumstances, to forgive others their apparent faults and to remember that we all are not perfect. We can cultivate compassion for all beings, remembering that all living things have feelings and needs, not so different from our own. We can forgive ourselves when we fall short of our aspirations, and love others when they fall short of our expectations. We can write short reminders to ourselves and put them in obvious places, to help us reprogram our hearts and minds. In all these ways we can cultivate our capacity to experience and share states of grace.
By observing some simple mindfulness practices, such as remaining aware of our own feelings and needs, remaining alert to our responses to people and things, being honest with ourselves about who and how we are, we can begin to take responsibility for the state we are in at any given moment. This can begin simply, and can be used in situations where it is easy at the start, gradually extending into more challenging territory as each small taste of success is achieved. When we are fully honest with ourselves about ‘how’ we are, then we can begin to explore ‘why’ we get that way. We can gain a deeper understanding of the being that we are, and we can cultivate compassion for ourselves. This attitude of self-respect and self-knowledge will reflect on those around us, and we will find more often that we are treated with respect as a result. As we begin to live an example of grace in action, we affect everyone with whom we come in contact in more positive ways. Even folks who don’t like us and with whom we have disagreements will be kinder and gentler as a result. Such is the power of grace.
When we allow ourselves and others to enter into states of grace together, small miracles are possible. Try it!
(originally published in the print publication “Connect” magazine May 2013)