Mindfulness Can Activate More Grace in Our Lives
Today we all need to be cultivating more and deeper grace. Grace needs to be activated. Given so many of our cultural problems (murders and mass murders by gunfire, rampant personal and corporate greed, ego-entitlement, chronic stress, feelings of insecurity, technological advances that do not ADVANCE us, religious hatred, intolerance, bigotry, financial issues, a dying middle class, etc.), an important national agenda may be the energetic cultivation of personal and national grace. Grace is one of those experiential realities of inner-experience that defies a clear definition. Perhaps the best definition is the more general one: being gracious implies you think, speak and act (Buddha’s view) with kindness, benevolence, forgiveness, humane consideration, friendliness, and charitable ways. You can see this is NOT our norm. The United States was (and in some ways still is) the greatest philanthropic nation on earth; however, in other ways this great country thinks, speaks and acts in opposite, highly self-interested directions. Of course, such behavior may be the limbic (survival) realities of our wired minds and a hundred-thousand years of genetic transmission. As Darwin, Freud and others have noted – humans have the capacity for great evil and great goodness. Your choice belongs to YOU!
Let us examine some ways we can activate more grace in our daily lives. Using mindfulness attention to day-to-day things we may otherwise be on autopilot for is a good start. Noticing is important! The more transcendent aspects of grace may involve a higher power, various attributions to gods and their original religions, gently “touching” another person’s inner-most and soul-based feelings, and other caring aspects of human interaction. Think of the song Amazing Grace! Listen to it’s words. In some ways the Taoist views of The Way and the bountiful harmonious wonders of the natural world (forests, mountains, streams, lakes, winds, rain, snow, sunshine, moonlight, etc.) may capture important original meanings of grace for humans. For others grace may be found in the smile on the face of another person, in mutual laughter, moving toward the light, Augustine’s “common grace,” Kohut’s “experience near empathy,” and/or Goldie Hawn’s open forgiveness in golden light for those who have harmed her. For others it might be found in Martin Luther King’s ideas of service to others, Bushido’s (Samurai view) of finding someone needing your help, Thich Nhat Hanh’s or The Dalai Lama’s kind compassionate actions for others, approaching the moment of your own death, or perhaps even bliss. Other views include P. Chodron’s (Buddha’s) using kindness to repair our “innocent situations” where we have caused pain accidentally for others, and ultimately Shantideva’s view of exchanging self for others both psychologically and in actual physicality. The next time you are upset with another person, imagine walking in that person’s shoes – being them. As you can see, there are many simple and complicated ways you can be with your inner-most grace AND activate it for the benefit of others. If you are serious, you may want to VOW now that you will
use great intention to place more grace in your daily activities with others. You will see how helping others nurtures your own inner self-worth and happiness. Go for it!
For more details refer to Aronson, B. C. (2006). (Ed.). Grace: Quotes & Passages for Heart, Soul, and Mind. New York: Random House, pp. 1-63.
By Anthony R. Quintiliani, PhD., LADC
Author of Mindful Happiness
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