Cultivating Compassion: The R in G.R.A.C.E.

The how of compassion can be generated using the acronym of G.R.A.C.E.: gather attention, recall intention, attune to self and other, consider what will serve, engage and end. Simple practices for gathering attention and attuning to oneself to become fully present to our experiences have been presented previously. Recall attention is gathered by developing these habits: frequently checking in that our mind is anchored to our body in whatever we are doing, pausing to notice sensation from key body areas (face, hands, feet, perineum), refreshing our five senses by attuning briefly to each one and repeating be here now( silently or aloud). We will explore the R of G.R.A.C.E., recalling intention for engaging self-care, as an act of compassion.

Intention setting is often confused with establishing a goal. Discerning the difference is essential because our intentions continually shape our reality. Intention describes how we will BE in order to HAVE what we seek. Intention is oriented to the mechanics of the fulfillment of the desire that is motivating our goal. Gaining clarity on what is truly desired is a necessary step in the process of the G.R.A.C.E. step to recall intention.  To clarify your desire, you have two choices. First, you can reverse engineer an important current goal to understand why it really matters to you. This is desire/what is sought to be experienced from achieving the goal. If you are in a phase of not having clear goals, you can again reverse engineer your way to clarifying your desire by considering what you have been tolerating in your life. The opposite is likely a desire around which a goal can be established.

Once desire is clear, then we get to our intention/how to BE by considering what conditions are necessary to support the desire that is the primary motivator for attaining the goal. For example, this pandemic has imposed more time at home for many of us, which may have led to one or more projects. Maybe the project involves decluttering a home office, building a patio or learning to play a guitar. Fast forward and imagine deeply enjoying the benefits of your completed project and experiencing feelings of _____? This answers how to BE, starting now, to cultivate the right conditions that support the desire behind the goal. Let’s say project completion would satisfy a desire to FEEL organized or calm or strong or focused or creative. To hone intention, dig deep by looking for a desire that may be behind the first desire. Several choices may fill the blank, so take the time TO FEEL each one to identify which feels most satisfying. Our body is our best ally here, so mindfully observe bodily sensations of this projected future enjoyment of goal achievement more so than using cognitive processes. How are the five senses responding within this projection? Is smiling or frowning present? Recall observations of whatever is happening now are made with a spirit of curiosity and kindness, to feel all feelings without judging them as good or bad.

Intention is stated in the present tense: I AM ___ (calm, organized, strong, focused, creative etc.).  The conditions that support your intention will map out an ideal self-care plan. Self-care generated in this way does not create a to DO list but rather an intended way to BE in life as it is, right now . Perhaps one may BE rested, attentive, creative, well-nourished, playful, etc., as conditional for experiencing the intention statement I AM ___. Recalling intention for self-care in this way makes it sustainable by directly supporting what is valued most. This process is also extremely helpful to patient care for cooperatively transforming “home programs” into pathways for resilience.

“We all have a song of the soul, which reflects our journey through life.
By learning to bring ourselves into harmony with our own being we will become our Greatest Selves.”  ~ Silverhawk