Have you ever watched wild animals? Deer walking through the woods? Or squirrels in the park jumping among the treetops? Few people manage to get closer to their lightness and certainty of movement.
To a greater or lesser extent, all wild animals have this beautiful feature of graceful movement. No effort, no pose. With full confidence in the body that if the conditions change, the new situation will react appropriately, naturally, spontaneously, also without effort.
You immediately remembered yourself in the first yoga class – awkward, square movements, grace, lightness, and charm of the hippo … Do you practice so much time and you are still far from ideal? Why?
How to achieve this lightness and incredible freedom of movement of wild animals? What is it?
This lightness and freedom that you are so jealous of is simply their energetic connection with the surrounding world. Full of natural fluidity and softness. Flowing out of their hearts. Soul experience in the body. A state of grace.
What is grace? The word is derived from the Latin word “gratia” or grace and charm.
In Ancient Greece, on the other hand, Graces were goddesses of grace and joy. The word is also synonymous with lightness in movement and behavior, and beauty.
Colloquially, we speak of grace when someone moves elegantly, softly, dignifiedly, with lightness, flexibility, and charm.
What does it mean to move gracefully? Why can’t you do that?
According to Alexander Lowen, the father of bioenergetics, an American psychiatrist and psychotherapist (and also a yoga lover) we all possess this skill. You too. Like any other mammal, you are born in a state of animal grace, despite the fact that during the first few months of life your movements are still quite awkward. This is because you must first develop muscle coordination that will allow you to move sufficiently over time to meet your needs. However, in the first months of your baby life you are already doing really graceful movements.
So how does it happen that when you start your first adventures with yoga, it’s hard for you to find this natural gift? Why are you so far from squirrels and babies? Why do they have it and you don’t?
This is because, as time passes, unfortunately, you start to create something like armor in your body, a character armor that begins to stiffen and limit your softness of movement. It arises as a result of trauma and blocked emotions.
Injuries, stress or strong emotions create a strong physical tension that inhibits your entire body, as well as your ability to feel joy. The body is a reflection of all your problems, a bridge between feeling and thinking.
Your parents or teachers are primarily responsible for the loss of your natural grace. They “tempered” you, breaking your spirit through the so-called upbringing, i.e. adjusting your behavior to the requirements of life in society. All children grow up sooner or later, unfortunately, lose their charm as they are forced to give in to external expectations, at the expense of listening to their internal impulses.
The loss of grace, i.e. the suspension of emotions in the body due to anxiety during the child’s development occurs when 5 basic rights are violated:
- the right to exist
- the right to be safe
- the right to be free
- the right to independence
- the right to reach
Any breach of any of these laws causes frustration in the child and causes a physical reaction in the body on which the defense mechanism can further develop.
Imposing too many rules and regulations on a child before it reaches the age at which its ego is developed enough that learning is not based on fear but desire (about 6 years of age) limits his vitality, spontaneity, and grace of his body.
Loss of grace is a physical phenomenon. Noticed in the way you stand or move. The depth and strength of your feelings are expressed in your body’s responses. Every experience you experience as a human being touches your body and is enrolled in the mind. Not only, so upbringing contributes to the creation of this armor, but also everything you experience in life.
You are shaped by your experiences. Your body reflects your experiences.
Pleasant feelings positively affect the health, vitality, and grace of the body. Negative and painful experiences and vice versa. You spontaneously reach for pleasure, and you cringe and withdraw from difficult and painful situations. If you can react to survival or injury then this effect will not last because your body heals.
However, if you block the reaction, the injury will leave a mark on your body in the form of chronic muscular tension. Every time there is chronic muscular tension in your body, your natural reflexes are unknowingly blocked.
In the body, this is reflected in the form of a chronic, unconscious tension blocking the body’s impulses.
Muscle tension caused by past trauma and emotions blocked in the past stiffens your body, creating, as Wilhelm Reich called, a kind of “armor”. They restrain your movements, receive flexibility and grace. They lead to shortness of breath and a decrease in the level of life energy, limit the expression and feeling of emotions. They create your character structure and influence the way you see the world.
Of course, you also get grace by developing your skills in any action. An advanced yogi looks graceful from asana to asana. Often, however, this has no connection between the grace of learned art and the natural grace of the body.
However real grace is not something learned, but it is part of your natural endowment as a human being, as one of the divine creatures. If you lose it, you can only recover it by restoring its body to its spirituality.
You can also unwittingly destroy the grace of your body by forcing it too strenuous exercises. It is not without reason that yoga teachers often say “listen to your body,” “don’t do anything by force.” If you do not want the physical exercise to destroy the natural grace of your body, they must not interfere with the natural flow of stimulation in your body. If the stimulation stream is strong, it can be properly directed and used to perform a graceful and effective action, but if it is interrupted, then the spirit in the body breaks with it. Then, no matter how effective the learned activity turns out to be, it will always look mechanical and will also be felt by its performer.
Grace is about grasping the balance between ego and body, between will and willingness.
Unfortunately, in our culture, it is the will that determines a large part of your actions against the desires of the body. You are forced to get up and go to work regardless of whether your body is rested or tired, and whether the day’s activities excite or bore you. Whenever you are rushed, you lose your grace and your body becomes a machine.
What is it worth to gain the world if you lose your soul? Man is the only creature that drives themself until they loses their relationship with God, life, and nature.
The human spirit longs to regain its natural grace. To free themself from the bonds imposed on them by the ego, to feel their share in the stream of the universal spirit.
Unlike intentional will-forced movements, voluntary movements are spontaneous.
The ideal situation is that there is a balance between composure and agitation. Then a person feels free in expressing their feelings and impulses, but they is mastered enough to be able to express them properly and effectively. In such people, the mind and body are joined together. They are aware of themselves, but not oversensitive about their point. Each of their movements involves their person evenly. A man living in the unity of body and mind experiences harmony – the free flow of life energy.
The key to grace is allowing the body to move by itself. Being in the body, being in every cell. Confidence and dedication to body control, as well as conscious breathing, involving the whole body.
The body and mind are directly connected to each other, what happens in the mind, happens in the body and vice versa. What you think affects what you feel, and what you feel affects what you think. And you must remember that when trying to regain your natural grace.
Grace is a state of completeness, communication with life and unity with the divine. Grace is spirituality your connection with the universe.
Alexander Lowen ” The Spirituality of the Body”.
Alexander Lowen “Pleasure”.