Surrendering to Grace is a advice we find on many different paths. Catholicas, 12-Steppers and Anusara Yoga, to name a few, all speak of the healing power of grace.
But – what is grace, anyway? To be graceful is to act with courtesy or to move lithely. To receive God’s Grace is to fall under a benedicion or to find luck. Grace is a little bit of goodness in an unexpected place. It’s the rainbow reflected in a puddle reminding us to look up. Grace is also a surrender to the present moment exactly as it is, releasing all expectations and illusions of control.
I often play with the concept of surrender in my yoga practice. As I sit and breathe in an Asana, I’ll feel my muscles ever so slowly un-stitching moment by moment, breath by breath. This is surrender. This is being present. As I sit myself down to meditate, I’ll find my breath deepening when I didn’t even realize I was breathing shallowly. As we surrender and stop clinging, we’re able to make room for what we didn’t even know we were missing.
It’s the clinging that’s really a mystery. Why do we cling to our discomfort, misery, and pain? Why do our muscles continue to hold tension and emotions long past when that energy serves us? Some of this clinging rises out of a perverse set of comfort. Sometimes we’re recreating a state of mind that’s been with us for years, and serves as a source of comfort for us. Sometimes, we cling because we’ve become too identified with the archetype of the Martyr or the Victim. We may cling because we imagine there’s nothing else to cling to.
Grace is not only a surrender to what is in the external world, but also a complete acceptance of who we are within. Grace is approaching those parts of ourselves that don’t meet up to our expectations with compassion and complete acceptance. But Grace, true Grace, is more than that, even. True grace is embracing those shadow aspects of ourselves and deeply feeling gratitude for the utter humanness of it all Gratitude for the lessons we learn in dealing with the exquisite pain and gratitude for a deeper understanding of our human condition.
In untwining our fingers from the pain, we’re able to get a clear picture of what exactly we’re clinging too. As we breathe deeply into the pain, sending white light along with our breath, an amazing thing happens. The pain just sort of vanishes – like the illusion it is.