Growing up Catholic, my mother had us say grace before every meal. So, prior to putting a morsel in my mouth I recited, “God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food. Amen.” The words were so automatic that I’m not sure that I ever stopped to think about what I was saying or why. At some point, I just quit saying grace – probably because it wasn’t cool. Fast forward to my late 20’s/early 30’s when I was just embarking on my journey into yoga and up crops that word again: Grace. This time I know it’s not something I utter quickly before eating.
Let me just say that in my life, particularly adulthood, I have been neither graceful nor have I sought out grace in difficult times. My problem-solving pattern (and no it hasn’t always been the most effective) has been akin to solving a math equation. What I mean is that there might be multiple ways of solving it, but there is only one “right” answer. However, in the past few months, and I’m unclear exactly why, things have shifted. Recently, the teachings, readings, and conversations – from the last 13 or so years – about Grace are beginning to make sense in my life. For someone who considers herself a pretty smart gal, I wonder what in the world took me so long!
On the yoga mat, Grace seems elusive when pushing myself into a difficult pose. Instead, for me, Grace exists in the transitions between poses. It is in the fractions of a second between my inhale and exhale, in the space and time where I allow myself to slowly drift from one pose to the next, or in my decision to get back up after falling out of a pose. Grace seeps into my practice when I don’t let my monkey-mind rush ahead. Funny thing is, it is the same off the mat. When faced with one of life’s obstacles, I’m learning to seek Grace in the moments before I act or react. What I’ve realized is that finding the Grace in life’s transitions allows me to move into and through the difficult situations with calm. I wish I could say that this has made my life easier – it hasn’t – but it has definitely decreased the amount of drama.
I’m not sure if I could even tell you what Grace is. In my mind it’s more of an approach – one of softness and gratitude. My mindset of finding the correct solution to life’s challenges is slowly melting away and I notice that as that happens, I am open to so much more possibility. As a solutions-oriented individual, I need to say that this approach does not come naturally. The mere awareness of my patterns and making a conscious decision to change my approach is already having a positive impact on my relationship with myself and with others.
Now I understand why my mother had us say Grace before a meal. It forced us to slow down and honor the transition from the day to our time together around the table as well as an expression of gratitude. I’m not sure if I will say Grace before each meal – rather, I aspire to keep my heart open to Grace throughout my day.