“Existence will rush to fill us and overwhelm us if we don’t meet the outer world with an inner life.”
In a world struggling under the burden of collective doubt and fear, many of us have been forced to question our long-held assumptions about how the world works. How can we steady ourselves in all this uncertainty?
Our inner teacher remains stable and clear, regardless of what’s swirling in the world outside of us, so it’s critical to keep the lines of communication open. In a compassionate life, being in frequent contact with our wise inner guide leads us toward genuine wellbeing. And this, of course, leads to the wellbeing of the collective.
Still, the competing noise of the world can distract us. So can fear, which brings about the tunnel vision that keeps us from seeing the fullness of our experience. Given these conditions, how do we stay in daily connection with what matters most to us? Whether it’s immersion in nature, prayer, lovemaking, art- or music-making, athletics/movement, meditation … they all walk us toward the infinite, wise, and stable territory within. It’s the most natural thing in the world. And yet, we drift.
As one antidote to the drift some of us may be experiencing, I’d like to offer a daily practice I developed called G.L.A.D.S. It’s a way to intentionally turn us back toward our own inner knowing, and it invites us to expand our lens of awareness to include what is going well in our lives. It also reminds us that even within the upheaval we may be experiencing, we can make a difference. This is because we are listening to ourselves and to our lives. We know who we are, what we need, what we’re willing to stand for, and all of those whose efforts contributed to what is good our lives.
How G.L.A.D.S. works:
Find a quiet time when you can reflect on the day and contemplate G.L.A.D.S. (below). Journal your heartfelt responses, being sure to acknowledge any emotions or insights that arise, letting the good stuff sink in and holding the difficulties with kindness.
G – Gratitude
For what are you grateful, and WHY? Be specific. Pause and let it sink in, as best you can. If you find yourself challenged by this, consider the causes and conditions that had to line up perfectly to allow you to be sitting here in this moment.
L – Let Go, Release
Is there a gracious “no” do you need to say to someone else so that you can say “yes” to that which moves you in the direction of wellbeing? Alternatively, what is something from today that you would like to let go of? Can you name it, briefly give it the attention that it is asking for, then release it?
A – Appreciate and Acknowledge
As a way to offset negativity bias, what’s something you can appreciate and acknowledge about yourself today? Do so. Breathe it in. If you are able to open to this good thing, let it nourish you.
D – Devotion to practice
Did you meditate or do your preferred practice today? Have you stood by your own side today, or did you leave yourself behind? How have you loved yourself up today?
S – Service
The benefits of our self-compassion practice extend beyond ourselves. In what way did the fruits of your practice support you in serving someone (or something) else today?
I encourage the use of this tool for about two weeks during periods when you’re feeling lost, overwhelmed, or disconnected from your own inner wisdom. Amidst all of the noise of daily life, a period of daily G.L.A.D.S. practice calls your attention back to what is most important. And from this place of clear seeing, you’ll have greater capacity to hold whatever arises in your life and in a world that needs your wisdom and steadiness.