A state of grace
Each week, I receive Eckhart Tolle quotes in my email inbox. They're called “Present Moment” reminders. One in particular spoke to me deeply. He said, “To offer no resistance to life is to be in a state of grace, ease, and lightness. This state is then no longer dependent upon things being in a certain way, good or bad.” This wisdom reminded me of the recent movie I had just seen about Mr. Rogers, It's a Wonderful Life in the Neighborhood. I was profoundly moved by Mr. Rogers' presence with his television guests and with his audience, which was mostly children.
My biggest take-away from this film was to stay present with people in uncomfortable moments without the need to react negatively - or at all. Mr. Rogers (played by Tom Hanks) seemed to stay present by holding his gaze with the person he was talking to and responding slowly and deliberately. He displayed empathy and kindness no matter how uncomfortable the circumstances. I became emotional during several scenes as Mr. Rogers portrayed such simple acts of kindness in the midst of another's discord and shame. His behavior and response was beautiful to observe and learn from.
Offering no resistance to life or to another person does feel lighter and easier and is no longer dependent on situations or people acting a certain way. This is a state of consciousness that requires a slower and more thoughtful approach. I, personally, have a faster response, learned from childhood. When I witnessed Mr. Rogers' slower approach, leading to more profound outcomes with the people with whom he interacted, I became teary-eyed. I knew in my bones I was witnessing pure love. The film gave me a promising new lesson about my own emotions; how important it is to notice my authentic emotions in each moment and to acknowledge them to myself.
Embodying a new approach in relating isn't always easy. It requires a strong intentional daily practice along with more awareness of the present moment. Both require a slower approach to life. Think of the tens of thousands of moments missed while being spurred on to increase our speed for productivity, or at least to feel purposeful. How much more could have been accomplished by going slower, by deepening the connection, making a difference with our gaze by staying a little longer in a conversation, or simply listening more deeply after asking someone “how are you?”
For years, I've watched from a distance as an extended family member went through financial challenges. Their values and beliefs result in one hardship after another. This relationship always felt sad for me because I care about them. I've become aware that I hold fear around what may happen. As I grow older, I realize this fear serves no purpose. This has lifted a great self-imposed burden from my shoulders all of these years. What I'm learning from Mr. Rogers is how to see the best in this family member instead of what's not working financially. I naturally do this with clients because I didn't grow up with them, and to see their strengths is easy. But how to exist with family relationships in the midst of long-standing differences is now my new desire, thanks to Mr. Rogers.
When I feel seen and heard through love by family and friends, I feel there isn't anything I couldn't do or become. Being loved simply for who we are is powerful beyond understanding and that's what Mr. Rogers brought to thousands of young children and adults alike.
During these holy days of giving and receiving, my hope is that you are seen and loved simply for who you are. If you already feel this kind of love in your life, then spread this light to others.