01/10/2012 11:54 am ET Updated Mar 11, 2012

Habit #6: Divine Regard

Divine regard is the ability to hold our everyday affairs as sacred. It is the embodied understanding that all of the mundane, habitual, domestic, gritty or tedious tasks of any ordinary day are indeed sacred, exactly as they are. Divine regard refers also to the living practice that every person we come across is also sacred, just as they are. Even with all the parts of their behavior that we find unacceptable, we are invited to relate to them as part of ourselves -- even our most challenging students!

Seeing everyone as sacred does not mean overseeing what is unacceptable or needs improvement, it is not one or the other, rather a both/and -- divine regard and realistic observation. Divine regard is a disposition of the heart, a way of staying aligned to what matters to us most deeply, even in the midst of great challenge.

Divine regard is also a practice of staying with a situation, a task or a relationship, even during periods of intense duress or strain. We do this with the understanding that therein lies an opportunity to see through our projections, to access clear seeing in an undefended, vulnerable way, and to find ways to maintain active compassion by means of communication.

The opportunity is to do the inner work of decoupling the facts, the truth, from the projection, whilst staying open to finding the words to speak in (at least) a neutral tone of voice, and ideally in a constructive, positive one.

Divine regard includes the ability to hold multiple perspectives (yours and theirs) and to stop making ourselves separate from another. By "making separate" I mean to suspend the mechanism in us that makes another person wrong or bad in any way -- rather to see their wholeness as well as the patterns that we may have trouble accepting. Maintaining an authentically empathetic connection in the face of a difficult, or unconscious event or dynamic provides an opportunity to practice this new disposition. It's all too easy to judge others, and push them away based on some perception of them.

Staying in communication and exploring how to be with the ambiguity of those feelings is truly facing our own shadow while witnessing the other person as a mirror, and an individual. It seems that forgiveness or acceptance lies in the perspective taken from the eyes of Love.

Love and respect for our self and for the other person. We can apply Divine regard applies to ourselves too! We can ask ourselves: How does Love perceive me right now? What would Love say? What would Love do? How might I act more wisely in a moment like this?