Effort & Grace

The Twisted Trunk of Ganesha

Ganesha's trunk can be seen to represent flexibility, but the fact that it is twisted or bent, represents the path of effort. Yoga can be described as a path of effort and grace. I think it is beautiful to work in a paradigm that has a respect for effort. There is a lot of there right now that says it should be easy (and usually the ones who say it should be easy are selling something). I am grateful to work in a system that respects the effort of those who step off the road that perhaps could have been easy. To change their karmas. To change the world.

In the bend of the trunk, there is compassion and honor for the places where we have been twisted by effort. The hands calloused by work, the shoulders tight from the fight. There is not the judgement that you would have to be without scar. And then there is the other side as well: the surrender, the grace. The idea that perhaps we do not need to continue to be bent in ways that no longer serve. There is the effort and there is the release of effort.

Culturally, we probably have context for a path of effort as we have been taught to work hard. However, we probably can clean up the path of effort as well - seeing where there is conflict, force, or strain, rather than deep power and flow. One lesson in this is to respect our effort and also to learn a bit about surrender and grace. Most people apply the word "grace" to particular situations (or some don't like it at all as it feels religious), but in this sense it refers to something that is always available. We may not have as much context for the path of surrender and grace. I know I do not.

It is something that has to be experimented with - to see how much you can let go and have the earth hold you. Since release is necessary, it often comes up in negative ways - the desire to check out or to numb out. It is important to clean up the path of surrender.

In yoga, the idea is that the effort deepen your surrender and the surrender deepen the effort. And that you can study feeling both - the surrender within the effort, the steadiness within the surrender. Both of these qualities can come to be positives. To begin to see the struggle as a positive, as not wrong, is a place to start. And Ganesh is a beautiful one to hold this understanding - that even the twisting of effort is held within the great remover of obstacles. That the whole dance is soothed by the infinite breath.


Image by Graham Brown

Image by Graham Brown