The GRACE Practice: A Moment to Engage in Self-Care

Follow this 12-minute guided meditation to gather your attention and consider what would really serve you, your self-care, and your capacity for resilience.

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In the latest Mindful Live session, Michelle Maldonado discussed resilience for divided times with Mindful’s editor-in-chief Heather Hurlock and offered a short guided G.R.A.C.E. practice.

The practice was created by Buddhist teacher Roshi Joan Halifax, and has been adapted for many audiences and populations, Maldonado says. Each of the letters in the acronym guide us, helping us to support ourselves in any moment. Saying the name alone—G.R.A.C.E—invites the body and the mind to soften along with the heart. 

A Guided Meditation for GRACE

1. Find a comfortable position for your body. If you’re seated in a chair, place your feet flat on the floor. Allow your spine to elongate, and find a harmony between being alert and relaxed. You may choose to close your eyes or cast them in a downward gaze. 

2. Begin by taking a few long, deep breaths in and out to allow the body and mind to settle. 

G Stands for Gathering Attention

3. Take a moment to gather your attention. You may place your attention on the sound or sensation of your breath. With a softened gaze, you may also choose to focus on an object or a sound. Sometimes it’s useful to have options for where to place our attention for focused periods of time. I often call this a home base—a comfortable space where you can place and gather your attention.

R Stands for Recalling Intention

4. Next, we’ll move to the letter R. In this moment, I invite you to recall an intention. Perhaps it’s why you are here today. Maybe the intention is to simply be open, to discover new ways to be resilient, and to engage in self-care. Whatever it is for you, I invite you to recall your intention now. Then allow it to dissipate or drop like seeds in soil waiting to be fertilized.

We don’t maintain our intention or focus on our intention. We set it as a gift to ourselves. 

5. As you recall and set your intention, allow yourself to let go of it. We don’t maintain our intention or focus on our intention. We set it as a gift to ourselves. 

A Stands for Attuning to Self and Others

6. Next, we’ll move to Aattuning to ourselves and others. First let’s focus on attuning to ourselves by taking the next moment to do a brief body scan, checking in with the body. How is it feeling? Where do you notice any sensations, or none at all? See if you can notice the type of sensations that might be present. Could it be tightness, tingling, neutrality? Notice where the sensations are in the body and label them.

7. The next step is to think about attuning to others. In any kind of situation, conversation, or condition, we are attuned to others. We walk through the world alive, interconnected, and interdependent. So it’s important for us to first attune to ourselves and to take that quality of presence and awareness out into the world as we attune to and with others.

So for this practice, this step might be attuning to those around you. See what it feels like to bring awareness to this space.

C Stands for Considering What Would Serve

8. Now, the letter C. Consider what would serve in reminding ourselves that self-care is not selfish. It’s actually one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves and others because we cannot give from an empty well. In this next moment, I invite you to be curious and open about what would really serve you, your self-care, and your capacity for resilience. What else might be needed to support you best?

E Stands for Ethical Ending and Engagement

9. Finally moving to the last letter in the GRACE practice: ethical ending and engagement. Bring to mind at least one wise action you can take. Perhaps you can return to your reflection on what would serve. Maybe there’s one first step you can take here. What might that be? As you consider that, notice what it feels like.

10. Taking a deep breath in and out, begin to feel your feet on the floor and your body on the chair. When you’re ready, go ahead and open your eyes.

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