As my hands remained in prayer pose after we closed the class with the Long Time Sun song, my teacher encouraged me to ask my soul, “What is it that I need to know?” Nothing came to me. I asked once more. While in this space of self reverence, the only word that came to me was GRACE. There was no emotion, no memory, no attachment to the word as it clearly appeared in my consciousness. It was a simple and clear message.
“Do not deny the desire, and do not fulfill the desire if it does not fit your excellence and honor. No desire is desirable if it does not add to your character and grace. What is your strength? Your personal strength as a Teacher is your character. What is your power as a Teacher? The power of a Teacher is grace.” ~Yogi Bhajan
I remember being taught what grace was as a child, but not truly beginning to understand it until the past few years while developing as a teacher and healer. As I am reminded of Yogi Bhajan’s words, my personal definition of grace was challenged to be redefined once again. Grace is unconditionally gifted from the Universe so that I can refine my mind and heart to do God’s Will. This Will, through the vehicle of grace, allows me to express my unique divinity, purpose,and path. My personal will is to carry the Consciousness of God as a courageous warrior.
Lately grace has allowed me to surrender more deeply into fear, jealousy, guilt, and shame. What I mean by surrender is to fully go into these emotions knowing that grace will always be supporting me to pull me out of the hole. It’s only my mind that thinks its possible to get stuck in the hole, because it is afraid of accepting and receiving grace and love. However, through grace I am able to shine light into these shadows of self.
I think of all the times when I was so willingly to give, only because I was hesitant to receive. This brings me to assessing my self worth. How much am I worth? This is especially important for me as a teacher. I often think of how can I be of service as a teacher and let students know of their infinite worth, if I am not constantly re-evaluating my own worth. However, if I always fall back on the support and power of grace, then I know my innate personal value. As a child I was constantly challenged to work towards achieving a sense of value for my parents’ acceptance and approval. It often took shape in the form of achieving higher education for the wrong reasons. Looking back, I realize that I always was of immeasurable value, but chose to ignore it or simply didn’t believe it. These belief systems are what take us out of grace and get us caught in the webs of the mind, allowing untrue stories to be made. That’s why it’s been important for me to maintain character and authenticity in all that I do.
So what is character? For me, the most important thing about character is being true to my word. Keeping my word has not only challenged me to know what commitments are appropriate for me to make, it has also helped me form healthy boundaries with others. Foremost, it has helped me embrace the knowing that if I can always keep my word, then I can trust myself to make the best decisions for myself. I can then hold myself to a standard of following through on commitments. As a result, others naturally know that they can trust me.
“….and let the self be dropped, and the Teacher rise out of the ashes of it, so we can be what Thy Will is to be.” ~Yogi Bhajan
Grace comes from the heart, not the head. It builds my character by being open to receive compassion and kindness from others, but also myself. I’m always wanting to put 110% of myself into the tasks I commit to and the people I am with. However, it takes a great deal of self compassion to know when to take a step back, re-evaluate the situation, and then take action. Through this I am learning to manage my time better and pace myself throughout even the most mundane and challenging daily tasks. To keep this up, I need a set daily routine as a foundation. Without this I am lost and my whole day feels out of sorts. This is why sadhana has been a huge asset for me, even when I was only able to manage meditating for 3 minutes a day. It gives me a lift off point so I know where I am starting from for that day. Since life happens, there are still times where it seems like pushing the “re-do” button would have been an easier option. However, my sadhana reminds me to always act from a place of zero, of nothingness. When I feel overwhelmed or anxious, I am reminded I can always go to this place where the ego is dropped. This tool allows me the opportunity and choice to access neutrality through my words and actions.
Everyday I help people realize that grace is available through movement. As clients and I work together, we find how movement can be easy for their own body. Each body is different and therefore expresses itself through movement differently. When the potential for movement is remembered, it is can be expressed through their emotions and feeling of vitality or wellness. When someone has pain his/her sympathetic nervous system works its magic by going into a protective mode. For example, when someone has mid back pain, the shoulders are often contracted forward, the neck translates forward, the chest falls downward, the low back and abdominal muscles get weakened. This compresses the diaphragm and decreases the ability to take full/deep breaths. When the breath is not readily available, the Prana (life force) isn’t able to easily flow. Many times pain only surfaces when these patterns of holding are no longer able to support the structure. One may think that this feedback loop is a bad thing, but it’s not. Instead, be thankful for these processes, because they hold your structure together, even if it isn’t as efficient as hoped for. By seeing the body from a perspective of grace and ease, one can focus on what their body is doing right instead of what it is doing wrong. Then with help he/she can learn ways to strengthen the parasympathetic nervous system so the sympathetic nervous system doesn’t have to do as much work. Simple visualizations and movements can be applied to unlearn these patterns of the nervous system. This can be achieved through a variety of tools such as Kundalini Yoga, manual therapy, and somatic movement exericses. Joy and pleasure through movement is once available. This, in turn, is reflected in how we feel about ourselves in relationship to our personal empowerment, environment, emotions, and daily life activities.
Grace, Character, self worth, self reverence, and commitment all continue to challenge me to show up for my mind, body, and soul. Growth for me is continuing to reassess where I’ve been, where I am going, and where I am at now. Growth pushes me to constantly raise the threshold of my perceived limitations. By doing this I am coming to learn that growth is always temporary. I am constantly learning and unlearning and therefore my ideas of what growth are always fluctuating. Perhaps my ego thinks it is achieving something, but my soul knows it is just remembering where it came from so it can continue to express itself in this human form as best it knows how.