5 Ways to Open to Grace, Every Day
“Freedom is not given to us by anyone; we have to cultivate it ourselves. It is a daily practice… No one can prevent you from being aware of each step you take or each breath in and breath out.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
As a student of Anusara yoga, I have been taught that the first and highest principle of yoga is to Open to Grace.
In yoga, this means being receptive to the gifts of practice.
But grace can be found far off the mat as well.
In life, grace means honoring the inherent goodness that is in all of us, and also in everything around us.
Opening to grace allows us to make life-affirming choices, and to see the righteousness in all things, even moments that are veiled in sorrow or misfortune.
Grace needn’t be hard-won.
There are small things we can do every day in order to cultivate peace and simplicity.
Here are five ways we can open to grace every day of our lives.
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1. Slow Down
The body and the mind are intricately connected.
When you slow down your body while moving or talking, your stress levels decrease exponentially.
Your emotions work in tandem with the mind-body, one follows the other.
Try taking your time in the supermarket or eating slower than you usually do.
By decreasing the speed at which you do things in your everyday life, your degree of reactivity will be lessened as well.
2. Eliminate clutter
Simplify your space.
By minimalizing the things you have around you, you bring clarity and space in the mind as well.
Living in a calmer environment serves to quiet the mind.
A few minutes devoted to getting rid of what you don’t need brings lasting peace and serenity.
This goes for your time, too.
You don’t have to check your inbox every five minutes, and you can say no if you don’t have the time or simply don’t want to.
Give yourself permission to spend a moment or two doing nothing at all.
3. Accept and cultivate gratitude
Consider that perhaps not everything happens for a reason, but rather that we have to make our reasons happen.
When something bad happens or someone wrongs us in some way, it is less the way things are “supposed to be” than a call for us to make something good come of it.
Bad things may very well be exactly what we need in order to become everything we were meant to be.
Misfortune is an opportunity for growth and transformation.
As counter-intuitive as it may seem, in this way there is a reason to be grateful for these experiences; however, it is up to us to do the internal work so that these reasons can manifest and we can know peace.
By accepting what is, we open the doorway to our dharma, or one’s personal path to enlightenment, and our highest potential.
Take a deep breath into your belly.
Feel the diaphragm moving down and spreading out.
All of your organs are being massaged when you breathe this way.
Our organs and connective tissue hold emotions that may have been too difficult for us to deal with at the time of their origin.
When we breathe deeply into these part of the body, we release stored emotions and belief systems that keep us at a distance from peaceful living.
5. Take a breather!
Read: this is not the same as taking a breath (although it can be)!
Take a reprieve from the daily grind by reading a book, watching a movie, or taking a bath or a long walk.
It doesn’t have to be a formal sit in meditation, although meditation has been shown to have a multitude of benefits including but hardly limited to peace of mind.
There are no hard rules, just be with yourself.
Taking a few minutes a day to enjoy ourselves not only means we have more energy when we need it in order to keep up with everyday life, but it also keeps us in touch with who we really are at the center, without everything corkscrewing around us.
It also makes us more capable of accepting all that life has to offer… the good and the bad, and all the fullness in between.
For a free guided meditation from my teacher Elena Brower, please visit http://elenabrower.com/meditation.
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