How to open your eyes and your heart

The holiday season is a busy time of year. What with office parties, holiday gatherings, family events and all the usual life things thrown in for good measure, it can be easy to lose grace. Furthermore, with these increased demands, finding time to roll out your mat is nearly impossible.

But living a yoga life extends beyond time on your mat. I’m here to tell you there is a way to further improve the quality of your life and retain grace through your practice, even when you can’t get to your mat.

Here’s how: Open your eyes, and you will open your heart.

Sounds simple I know, but if what you’ve learned from your practice is put into daily
action, I assure you it’ll have profound make positive effects on how you live your life.
For me, it’s the quest for an ongoing state of grace.

What do I mean when I say open your eyes? It’s developing self-awareness in the world around you. It’s the decisions you make and how you interact with yourself and your surroundings. Keeping each present is how I stay in grace (at least I think so).

So, to prove to myself that my open your eyes mantra translates into grace, I did a little experiment.

I start the experiment while packing for the airport. I silently say my mantra for the day, “open your eyes follow your heart”; therefore, I am limitless.

Within the hour that mantra turns into I am grace. Then evolves into I am graceME.

So, what is graceME? It’s my made up noun that describes grace as an elegant movement, my movement; poise or balance along with charming and pleasing qualities. But let’s get literal. When grace is defined in this way it’s easy to draw a parallel to myphysical practice.

You may be as graceful as a ballerina, but I’ve always been a bruised-shin food-on-thefront-of-my-blouse person. It’s in yoga that I feel like a swan. The asanas give us strength, poise and balance. When I stand in my truth while being true to who I am and hope to be, that comes across in any language as elegant. Therefore, I’m graceMe.

It takes vulnerability to try a new pose, a new way of looking at yourself and a new way of moving through the world. If you try a new pose, you’re courageous. If you hold a pose that is uncomfortable, you can also hold your tongue and be graceful in a heated exchange. If you find the balance between effort and ease, you find the balance between striving and equanimity in your life.

I like this new word graceME, it embodies all the above for me. I’ll use that as my weekend mantra while I’m attending a family function, a wedding.

It’s with intention that I remind myself as my plane lands that I embarked on my experiment to prove to myself, and you, that despite what’s happening around me, my yoga practice will get me through the event with grace and I’ll have a fun time at the party.

Preparing Me

Just like you prepare for yoga, ask yourself how you can prepare your attitude for grace. I slip this attitude on as I get dressed. I visualise how I will behave. I take a moment before walking out the door to put my hands over my heart and set my intention (just like I do on my mat). I check in with my spirit and thank my wise, loving self for taking the time to practice loving kindness. I give gratitude for my body, mind and spirit and ask my higher self for a message. I hear back “you got this, your strategy is no strategy.” I laugh out loud because I’ve used this one before. Let’s see if it works again.

I head out and notice I’m friendlier than usual to the people I encounter on the way. Energetically I feel radiant and prepared. I think back to times I’ve been in my yoga bra and shorts standing tall and strong in Mountain Pose at the front of my mat, ready for action. Content in my skin. Peaceful. I smile. This is my best me: Strong, flexible, ready to move yet content with the stillness. It feels familiar, feels right. Feels like home.

Engaging Me

You don’t have to entertain anyone, simply be available, open. I found out that it’s important to talk less, listen more. You don’t talk during an hour-long yoga class, so I know I can make it through a conversation. People love to talk. Give them the gift of active listening. That small gift will benefit both of you because you can relax into your heart knowing you don’t have to contribute in any way but to listen.

This is supposed to be fun for you, too. Sure, you need to take care of yourself if someone is being abusive, but realize most people will default to old patterns. Even in a business setting you can be professional, yet yourself. Authenticity is powerful.

Plan on who you want to spend your time with. Learn how to change the conversation quickly or simply excuse yourself. Remind yourself that you have a choice how you want to show up for yourself.

You have a choice to choose grace. If it’s a family with past issues, don’t allow anyone to speak to you in an unhealthy way. If it’s business, always be professional.

Leave when you’re ready. Don’t forget you can do that in a yoga class. I once left a class where the sequencing was dangerous. Never give the responsibility of your wellbeing to anyone. Be proud that you’ve come to find out in your practice that you’re the one designing your life.

Happiness is more influenced by how we choose to think and what we think about. Choosing happiness from within includes choosing the contents of your own mind. Giving thought to how I wanted to show up for myself had huge results.

Reflecting on Me

Always choose to be your best self. It’s all well and good to have life goals, dreams and desires but make sure to slow down enough to experience the moment. Speak from your heart. Be yourself. Show yourself and the world that looking healthy is much deeper than what you see on the surface. Emotional health, psychological health, and connection to self and others also become the things that you can be proud of. If you take good care of your health, you can take better care of others – connect more, give more and be full of grace.

We all hope for similar things. We all want love. Sometimes we fear intimacy, yet yearn for it so deeply.

My wish for you is that you take the time to learn how to design your moments while focusing on living from your heart.

Let’s all strive for grace instead of striving for the perfect pose.

By Stephanie Spence | Om Yoga & Lifestyle.