A few weeks ago, I finished my first weekend of the Anusara Immersion that my amazing yoga teachers Deirdre Smith-Gilmer and Joe Taft are offering to the Asheville yoga community. Needless to say, the teachings continue to inspire me.
As students, we were asked to write about our Open to Grace moments each day. Open to Grace is the first principle of Anusara yoga. Before any thing: action, asana, movement-- Open to Grace. What does that even mean, "Open to Grace"? I think there is no one definition to this principle, instead there are many. Most definitions seem to state that aligning with the Divine presence brings you to your true nature--bliss and joy and well being. Because the concept of opening to grace can be defined in so many ways, by so many viewpoints, it can be found by just shifting the lens at which you view life.
So, here I take a look for the spirit--find it in life, even where you least expect. I believe, quite profoundly yet simply, that opening yourself to such a task will only continue to bring more and more awareness to that grace in your being and experiences. And I notice that when I get stuck and can't seem to feel the inner spirit, God, or alignment during my day, I realize: I am getting in the way of experiencing my joy. Therefore, I am the greatest tool for getting myself to that place of JOY.
Last winter, Jason and I were re-potting plants together. We were also charged with the task to save some plants that had decided to no longer thrive. One was an old orchid, that when alive reminded me of a dinosaur with it's prehistoric presence. The orchid had been sitting outside on my veranda during numerous cold, snow drenched nights. I had stopped giving the orchid any attention. But, we were inspired to give it some love, anyway. Jason and I prayed over it, trimmed it's roots, and waited to see if it would change at all. Would it even come back to life?
The theme of this Opening to Grace moment would be really different if the orchid had lived. But no, the story does not take that path. I mean, nature has it's course for a big reason. The story, for me, is that we had loved even in death. Even in that which I wanted to forget, there was beauty worth remembering. The orchid represented the environment of winter; silent and still, monochrome and hibernated. It's contours, it's roots, it's color, it's ability to exist at one time as a flower--all of this was shri in it's majestic form.
Besides taking my mother's advice in this current summertime heat to 'think cool thoughts', I remember this story today because I found the picture of the orchid (at the top of this blog post) this morning. I am a very visual person, so it struck me to see the picture of this beauty. But I also think of this story because it is so relevant in the smallest and largest mountains of emotions in our life.
Find a moment to think of something or someone that you have given up on, or given to death. Can you bring it or they into a space of beauty, a place where the mystery brings you more well being? Then a true test of grace is: can you let that memory/person/idea go back to where it evolved to in your experience? And through that letting go, can you practice non-attachment to allow for more beauty to exist in your life?
And, here we continue, to open to the inner divine light and presence. GRACE.