“You cannot find peace by avoiding life.” ~ Virginia Woolf
I find myself contemplating on grace these days, what it means to live life gracefully, to tackle our life’s challenges with grace. I’m interpreting grace as being in contact with the inner part of us that knows peace and vulnerability. Grace as I see it is being in touch with universal love and with our minds firmly rooted in living in the moment, the complete opposite of living through our egos.
To have grace or this peace that is alluded to, doesn’t mean that we don’t have conflict or challenges. It’s quite the opposite really. Conflict will always arise whether it is from inside of us or on the outside. To live with grace is to embrace life’s ups and downs and to be fully present in experiencing the whole scale of emotions but to know that these do not define us.
I think we can all agree that this is one of those “easier said than done” deals.
I do not at all understand the mystery of grace—only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us. ~ Anne Lamott
As I reflect on how I deal with difficult situations or emotions, grace isn’t one of the words I would consistently use to describe my coping skills. Sometimes in the midst of a shit show kind of a day, I think to myself, “Damn girl, you’re a mess.” Anxiety and fear can paralyze and bring out the worst in us, let’s just say it isn’t pretty. It’s when we identify with our worries and fears that they begin to have power over us, that the ego steps in and morphs our perception. Here we can forget about what we do have, all that we can be grateful for, and instead focus on all that is lacking in ourselves and our lives.
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me.” ~ Frank Herbert
However, the beautiful thing about grace is that even when we fail (sometimes miserably) we can pick ourselves up and try again. We have the opportunity to try again every day; every waking moment presents us with a chance to practice living more gracefully.
There are helpers on the road to living with more grace; they are the practices that allow us to come in touch with ourselves, the ones that chip away at the ego. Whether it be hitting the yoga mat, a meditation practice, a hobby we enjoy doing or any creative outlet. Entering this sacred time for oneself helps to push away all the thoughts and feelings that don’t serve or benefit us. Here I try to the best of my abilities to release what hinders my contact with peace and grace. Carrying this into the rest of my day and hopefully into the more challenging times. And here lies the true practice. Staying connected to grace instead of freaking out. Sometimes I’m successful and sometimes it’s a total shit show.
I try and try again.
When we’re at our worst, faltering and failing completely, when it’s easier to come down on ourselves, those are the moments that we need to show ourselves more than ever that love and compassion. The whole breaking down part can be part of grace, that’s us being vulnerable. The turning point is the choice we have between letting this overpower us or picking up the pieces and choosing to love ourselves instead, to step away from our ego and show ourselves compassion while smiling at the fleeting nature of it all. That’s grace.
“To love yourself right now, just as you are, is to give yourself heaven. Don’t wait until you die. If you wait, you die now. If you love, you live now.” ~ Alan Cohen
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Ed: Kate Bartolotta