I had an experience recently where time seemed to stop and I was overwhelmed by a calm emotion that I could not at first name. Then someone gave me the word: GRACE. It was as if in that moment I was lifted up to a state of grace that I had never known before. There was indeed a calm to it. And a knowing. All is well. Life is extraordinary.
The idea of being graceful has certainly been appealing to me since I started this journey almost a year ago. That is how I want to feel in my body: graceful. Whatever size or shape my body is, I want to feel strong, confident, and yes … graceful.
But there are many meanings to this beautiful word.
Today I was reminded again of this word, grace. Not the kind of grace that has to do with smooth and pleasing movement, but the kind of grace that elevates one to a divine place. (I will note that I am not a religious person, but I do see myself as a spiritual person.) And I wondered, what is the word for grace in German (my second language)? The word is Grazie. And then I realized, this is the same word that in Italian means thank you! So I looked it up. And sure enough, the etymology of the word grace comes from “Latin gratia favor, charm, thanks” and from “gratus pleasing, grateful”. It is also “akin to Sanskrit gṛṇāti he praises” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/grace).
This connection was a revelation for me. One of the things I have been trying to focus on lately is being grateful. It is an essential tool for me in moving forward. If I cannot appreciate all the work that I have done, if I cannot appreciate my body and all the extraordinary things it is capable of, if I cannot appreciate the wonderful life I have created for myself, I will never be able to move forward or even to hold on to all that I have accomplished.
And so I go forth, trying to hold on to this exquisite state of grace … and gratitude.
Every Tuesday, I go to yoga. I began over five years ago when I was still a graduate student. I figured it would be good for my sore neck and back that I had from all that reading and writing. I had no idea that it would set me on a new path to quite literally change my life.
I love my yoga studio. It’s so much more than just poses. There I have also learned so much about the various practices and ideologies behind yoga. Each hour-and-a-half class begins with a short lecture. The lectures are usually grouped into 8-week topics. Topics include different kinds of yoga, the chakras, health & nutrition, etc. Today was a “freebie,” as we are between 8-week sessions. So my yoga teacher decided to talk about LIGHT.
It was a perfect topic. I just did a healing session that focused on restoration and repair – in a sense, a kind of LIGHT cleansing. Somehow, the topic of LIGHT just keeps coming up for me! So as I engaged in my poses, I was reminded by my instructor to continue to let the light in – and to let my own light shine. Keep your eyes open and let in the light. Or close your eyes and visualize the golden warmth shimmering around you. Get into your Radiant Warrior pose and soak in all that beautiful light. During relaxation, I used an eye pillow. When I removed it to sit up, the light flooded in right through my closed eyes.
But what does all this mean? For me, it means focusing on my true self. Being authentic. It means appreciating myself for all that I am and all that I have to give. Too often we sell ourselves short. We feel unworthy. But that is simply not the case! We are all beautiful creatures of this earth who have our lights to shine on others. And we deserve to have that light shining back on ourselves, too. Feel proud. Lift your face to the sun and feel its warmth and light as it energizes you and inspires you to stand tall.
Part of experiencing this light is also experiencing gratitude. More and more, I am so grateful for the life I have and the body I inhabit. And the more grateful I feel, the more wonderful it all seems to get.