WANT CONNECTION? PRACTICE GRACE & TEMPERANCE
DIVISION IS NOT PERMANENT
If there is anything apparent about 2021, it is these two things:
- There is so much work to be done (in this country, in the world, in our own households) to find our spaces of connectivity in our liminal spaces.
- The overarching themes emerging for 2021 are Grace and Temperance.
What do Grace and Temperance have to do with liminal spaces and a divided country?
We need both of these in the spaces between. In the margins. In the space that interconnects everything.
…the work of finding our interconnectivity begins with work on self.
Grace & Temperance, Defined
For example, I need grace—that intrinsic capital-k Knowing that I am worthy, what religious people might refer to as unmerited mercy—within myself and for myself in order to truly grant it to another so it would seem that the work of finding our interconnectivity begins with work on self—how we have come to see ourselves in the world, and the ease with which we might allow grace to cover a multitude of grievances. It is difficult to be angry or hold grievances when we have grace because grace is the gateway to forgiveness—that conscious, deliberate action of releasing any negative residue that remains after a conflict. That conflict does not have to be direct or even involve an argument. That forgiveness could be releasing one’s own disappointment that another was not how we expected them to be.
Temperance is how we show restraint and emotional governance. The Virtue First Foundation defines temperance as “the virtue that moderates our attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of things of this world. It ensures the will’s mastery over instincts and keeps desires within the limits of what is virtuous.”
I think we have all witnessed a vast ocean between what one person might view as virtuous vs. what another may see as virtuous, so that is going to be subjective. However, when we elevate our minds and hearts to a mindset that does not see through a lens of scarcity—what I do NOT have—then our ideas of “virtuous” can move toward a collective frequency that is also elevated. But this, too, must come first from within, and so this, too, means that there is a personal growth edge to work and whittle and sand.
Health Impacts of Developing Grace & Temperance
Why are Grace and Temperance the overarching themes, though? Because our minds and hearts and bodies can really only take so much stress, strife, and discontentment before our physical bodies say, “No more.” Because when we see life through the scarcity of what the self does not have, we fail to see our abundance and we fail to see the shared experiences of others. We miss out on community when we set our sights only on what the individual wants or only on what the individual resents not having. These are both incredibly low-energy fields of attraction. These require force rather than power. If I am in a marriage where I feel unseen and disrespected, and I assess every aspect of my relationship from this orientation, it is difficult to see how I know myself and respect myself.
If I demand to be seen and respected as a condition of me feeling these ways, I have externalized my power and my esteem. Externalization of my worth—looking for validation to reassure the self—never allows me to KNOW my unmerited mercy that resides in my solar plexus as Grace. It never allows me to embrace my own piece of divinity, that I am part of a much larger consciousness that some call God and others call Source or the cosmos or the All.  Blaming someone else for me not feeling seen or respected, then, calls me out to my own blind spot—that I must also not respect or see myself.
“…what happens in the liminal spaces—we either turn toward and acknowledge and fire together in our connections, or we tread water imagining the source of our separation where none exists except in the mind.”
When I own that I am a child of the Universe, with no justification needed for my presence—whether I learned the opposite or not from my early life caregivers or whether I had to learn this truth through hard life experience or an easy temperament—I am free to enjoy my place in the universe, alongside every other child of the Universe, which is what every other human being, plant, and animal is. My orientation, then, becomes one of grounded and embodied certainty of my worth and well-being within this vast space of consciousness, and it carries through to the liminal spaces that cause us to turn toward another and connect. That is what happens in the liminal spaces—we either turn toward and acknowledge and fire together in our connections, or we tread water imagining the source of our separation where none exists except in the mind.
If I show restraint when I feel disappointed, especially in relationship to an Other, I own my feelings and my behaviors. I am not likely to have a temper tantrum when I practice temperance. I am much less likely to snap at my lover or children because I have mastery over those emotions and my prior adaptive strategies that no longer serve. Snapping at my family members does not breed connectivity, nor does it further relationship. It does not even further my own grace or worth. It is most likely a fallback into an old adaptive strategy that we have relied on to move discomfort away from the self. Showing teeth is a great way to say, “Get away from me. I don’t trust you because I probably don’t trust myself and I don’t know any other way.”
How To Begin the Practice
Another way is to stay present to your feelings when activated into a stress response that is part of your old way of being.
What is a behavior that no longer serves? ________________________________________
What feeling(s) arise(s) right before I act out this behavior? _________________________
When not activated, take some time with a journal or a meditation walk to identify some of your behaviors sparked by negative feelings that no longer serve. Think carefully about precipitating events. Who is involved? What does it mean to you when this happens? What story do you begin to tell about yourself? What story do you begin to tell about the other person?
Yesterday, I __[past tense verb]_____________ (yelled at my daughter about not taking her dishes to the kitchen). Previously, I have felt __[emotion/feeling]_____ (justified) for scolding her because __[story]________ (she is old enough that I shouldn’t have to tell her this anymore).
The negative outcome was ______[what happened that put me out of connection, or away from my desired outcome, and what do I realize here NOW that may be unflattering to my ego self]___ (she was crushed and stopped talking to me, which actually had the opposite effect and now I feel torn between feeling justified because of my attachment to being right and shame because I never wanted to crush my own child with arbitrary expectations, of which this surely is because if she were gone from my life, this would haunt me).
Self-Discipline= Mastery of Thoughts
Both grace and temperance require a mastery of thoughts, and this begins with self-discipline. If you don’t control what you think, you can’t control what you do. Simply, self-discipline enables you to think first and act afterward.
It is likely that your self-worth must grow in tandem with mastering your thoughts. Finding self-worth after a lifetime of believing you do not have worth requires a cognitive baton pass from the low brain to your high brain. The low brain runs pretty much on your habituated patterns that you don’t even have to think about and not on mindfulness. Breathing, blinking, heart beating, swallowing, and waste functions happen here, in the low brain. So do our more primal, animal urges.
Staying in a place of doubting your worth or thinking you have to do something to have worth are patterns that no longer serve, and you need to train your brain to take that leap into your prefrontal cortex so that you can master your thoughts about your worth. Meditation can help. So does mindfulness practices toward the goal of feeling better about yourself and improving your closest relationships as an outshoot of that personal work. Grace & temperance will change the way you interact with yourself and your community.
Mantra & Mindfulness for Mastery
As soon as you feel yourself dropping into that low place where you doubt yourself and your worth, take a pause. Take a breath. Stop walking. Stop doing what you are doing and PAUSE.
Ask yourself, “Does it serve me to forego my own worth? The grace that resides within me that is unmerited mercy is MINE.I do not have to defend it, especially to myself. I am WORTHY. I BELIEVE in my strengths and my skills. What I think, I become. I am called to make positive changes in my life, and loving myself and liking myself and OWNING MY WORTH are the seeds I sow today and every day for the rest of my life.”
As you recite this mantra or some affirmation that speaks to you with more resonance, you begin to become the mantra. It affects your nervous system by stimulating the vagus nerve, which originates in the brain stem and extends to the tongue, vocal cords, heart, and solar plexus, as well as other internal organs. The vagus nerve is one of the most important elements of the parasympathetic nervous system. Existing in a parasympathetic state feels peaceful, present, and relaxed, it is your path to temperance.
In this more peaceful state, you are also able to engage more fully and with more self-assurance and grounding in your practices for temperance. From both of these, you are likely to see a rise in your connection to and with others, self, the planet, and whatever you call G*d. Why? Because mantras create resonance in the parts of the body that stimulate that vagus nerve and opening the heart with resonance and intention set each of us up for receiving at a higher frequency. It is very difficult to receive frequency when we are clenched, so we free ourselves up from some of our constricted energy and open up to possibility.
The true meaning of happiness is in community and through connection. If you aren’t feeling it, or your family or work conflicts continue to rise, I encourage you to consider a practice for three weeks of mantra and mindfulness to develop Grace and Temperance. Start with one week. Start with one day. One moment. And allow yourself a lot of grace. J
 … or Universe or Allah or Yahweh or Jehovah.