Grace was not a theory that was taught in my home when I was growing up. I think my family mythology was that there was not a such thing as abundance or Divine help. Goodness that flowed in our own hearts and all around us as a real force that we could tap into was just not an option in the Frank household. I always think it so wonderful, so heartening when I see my friends raising their children with hope, with the notion that there are endless possibilities and they have support to try them out. The first way we learn about Grace is from our parents and how they relate to the world. We all know this can be wonderful or, not so wonderful :-) I digress.
Grace is defined as, "the unmerited love and favor of God toward mankind; divine influence acting in a person to make the person pure, morally strong; a special virtue, gift, or help given to a person by God". (dictionary.com)
The 1st principle of Anusara yoga is "Open to Grace". This principle reminds us that before we exert any effort, make any plans, move a muscle we are to soften and open to the bigger flow. We remember God 1st, we surrender, we remember there is help, and then we move forward. So cool, huh?
"Know that Grace has the power
to transform everything you aspire to,
so aspire to the highest
and offer yourself to Grace."
~ John Friend
Opening to Grace means we become available to the flow of our lives and we know and consciously tap into the force of goodness that is ALWAYS there supporting us. This flow is called Grace.
"Grace will hold you
every step of the way."
~ John Friend
Olga Rasmussen says that Opening to Grace means, "saying yes to the whole river of life in all its permutations . . . . "
It is my prayer and my deep (and often challenging) work at this point in my life to hold the discipline of practicing connecting with the God of my understanding and surrendering at the beginning of every day. When I do not do this I feel disconnected, not as clear, and eventually I begin to wonder why I do not feel as, "in the flow". Well, it is because I have walked away from it.
Grace offers gerself to us boundlessly. May each of us walk into her arms.
I will be teaching a 2 hour class this Saturday, June 26th, on the 1st principle of Anusara, "Opening to Grace", 8 a.m.-10 a.m. Class will be all levels.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
What a lovely morning it is here in Athens, GA. The birdies are busily chatting away and the tremendous storm seemed to blow away some of the heat . . . at least for the moment.
Speaking of tremendous, I am feeling tremendously inspired as of late. Thank God. It is a much welcomed reprieve after many months of feeling disconnected and less than inspired. The lovely Christina Sell graced Athens this past weekend and that just helped to fuel my fire. I learned so much and my body feels challenged and open. Yum.
Lately I have been pondering the glorious possibility that it is through the body that we come to our hearts. Christina has a quote from Douglas Brooks on her blog(May 9, 2010), "If you want to lay claim to your whirling mind you have to lay claim to your body". Coming from a family and, I believe, largely cultural, belief that the body is just to be shaped and controlled to make us more "presentable", more "worthy", I am so heartened to hear talk such as this. It has certainly been my experience that my body and my relationship with it is one of my greatest teachers.
I have been reading this blog, "Out of the Blue". The logger describes the awesome potential for healing and moving more deeply into the heart of who we truly are:
The blogger is speaking of asking Annamalai Swami a question:
"As a young lustful yogi I had the termerity to ask him what remains to be done for realisation. Through his radiant translator, Sundarum, he said simply “Pay attention to your vasanas.” I replied “Duh. What’s a vasana?” “Tendencies of the mind. ” This is the most simple and the most difficult of advice, and has entwined me in a lifetime of sadhana.
So vasanas are tendencies of the personality, what makes me particularly quirky and distinct, is what produces the habitual modes of action, that makes me do what I do in spite of myself. Feuerstein describes them thus, ” If we liken the psyche to soft wax, vasanas are the karmic imprints left behind by our psychic activities. Vasanas are chains of similar karmic activators (samskaras), deposited in the depths of the mind through actions and volition. They must be dissolved before enlightenment can be attained.” (2001:460).
And this leads me onto Anusara yoga, to my little sacroiliac lila of late, kleshas and the pathway into union with the Divine.
A major key that unlocked why yoga is an essential part of sadhana, which took me a long time to understand was seeing how the afflictions or kleshas operate. I have a natal sun square pluto which means I am particularly well endowed with affliction. Thankyou Divine. i.e. Periodic meltdown and radical transformation, like it or not, and let me tell you, mostly I do not. I am brought to my knees regularly and still I do not see.
So to embody the blessings of practice, is to unlock this contracted energy, this resistance to life. In yogic terms the vasanas and its associated trauma penetrates deeper than the organs and tissues. This energy of these vasanas are hanging out in the pranamayakosha, or the subtle energy body. Yoga philosophy speaks of five afflictions that keep us bound to reality. Ignorance, I-ness, craving, aversion, clinging to life and fear of death. The energy of these afflictions collapse in on themselves like a dying star, or a black hole and are embedded in the subtle energy body. They reflect in the mirror of the physical body. Until these energy cysts are treated the structure and function of the tissues will continue to reflect them. Svoboda says vasanas can be inherited from ones ancestors, or perchance a past life. Regardless they seem to be largely there when we are born. Bummer. They clearly show up as my cramp.
Yoga unwinds these patterns. Sadhana unwinds these vasanas. This is why yoga makes me feel so peaceful, so sane. And why Anusara reveals the body of Light, and a possibility greater than myself. How practice dissolves these “subliminal activators” that keeps us having bad hair days. Sadhana then is the path of peace, the path of heart. The only choice …"
“Be strong then and enter into your own body.
There you have a solid place for your feet.
Think about it carefully
Don’t go off somewhere else.
Kabir says this.
just throw away all thoughts of imaginary things.
And stand firm in that which you are.” Kabir
May I accept the offerings of Truth my body offers so generously. Happy weekend!
Posted by Shannon at 4:42 AM
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
So today started beautifully. I had a very inspired practice at the studio and even got in touch with some uncomfortable feelings that had been lurking around in the ethers of my body/mind. It was quite wonderful actually as I was able to sit with the feelings and process them out instead of stuffing them back down. Due to this, and the wonderful students at class today, I had a delicious time teaching my 9.30 a.m. class. I felt clear and connected.
Later, stuff just didn't quite go exactly as I wanted it to. I began harboring some resentments (or some old ones re-surfaced) and then I began to think I was not good enough. The old, "if only I was "blank", then I would be happy" routine. Uggh. No no no fun.
So, I called a friend and she listened sweetly. We talked about possibilities for where the anger was coming from and what needed to happen so I could clear that "stuff" up. She also suggested that I consider a gratitude list. Honestly it is hilarious how strongly I will resist practices like this when I am "in a funk". I was like, "okay, I am miserable feeling like this, but do I REALLY want to let go? do I really want to try another way?" Sometimes folks,I just like to bitch.
So, knowing that this is not truly who I am, or all that I want to embrace I have decided to try a gratitude list for today. Here goes:
1. I have a wonderful partner in my husband
2. It poured rain today-I love big thunder/rain storms
3. I have plenty to eat/drink and shelter.
4. I am doing the job of my heart's dream (yoga!)
5. I have two of the best puppies
6. I am healthy
7. I have tons of loving support from people who want to see the real me (hubbie, friends, family)
Honestly, now I am thinking I could go on and on. I don't want to bore you, but do want to invite you to join me in Opening to the Grace in our lives. I feel better already. What are you grateful for today?
-Group practice at 5 Points Yoga (www.athensfivepointsyoga), 5-7 p.m., Saturday, June 5th
-Christina Sell!!!! 5 Points Yoga, June 11-13
Finally, this lovely quote is from Olga Rasmussen's insights on her blog:
"Peace is found in surrender to good through devotion. People who are loving, who practice stillness, who delight in meditation and good actions are really peaceful. Peace is the altar of God, the conditions in which happiness exists...
Live each present moment completely and the future will take care of itself. Fully enjoy the wonder and beauty of each instant. Practice the presence of peace. The more you do that, the more you will feel the presence of that power in your life..."
When you day does not go as planned - and even when it does - practice peace!
Posted by Olga Rasmussen on her lovely blog: aligningwithgrace.blogspot.com
Posted by Shannon at 7:06 PM