Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Opening to Grace

There is no other word to describe the conference I recently attended. Wow just seems to embrace it all. It was so amazing that it has taken me a week to recover and sit down to write this. It was not until today that I had the framework for connecting what I learned there to this blog. The conference was the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts conference. AFCC is an international, interdisciplinary organization of family law professionals, whose vision is to "[a] justice system in which all professionals work collaboratively through education, support, and access to services to achieve the best possible outcome for children and families." In other words, every member has similar goals as I do with respect to family law.

Before I get to the specifics of why the conference was so great, let me explain the title of this post - Opening to Grace. There are many, many styles of yoga being taught in the western world today. Anusara yoga, created by John Friend, is the style my teacher training teacher learned. One of its main tenets is opening to Grace. But what is Grace? This morning I was reading a book by Doug Keller called, "Heart of the Yogi," which defines Grace "as the self-revelation of the Self . . . . Thus being 'open' to this revelation through grace is part and parcel of yoga." In other words, Grace means opening up to the world as it happens, as the Universe wants, and not being caught in trying to force a particular outcome. 

When I first sat down to write this post, I called it "Wow." I had no other words. But today I realize that the conference was an experience in Grace. It was my lawyer-proof for a yoga concept. So, what happened?
  • I met a professor at a university in New Zealand where I will be studying for five months in July 2011. Not only did she provide me with interesting information about skiing in the area (I have never been skiing in my life, but I am determined to try it out), she is one of the preeminent researchers in the area of family law and told me we can work together while I am there.
  • I had breakfast with the Chief Justice of the Australia family court who invited me to Australia to study her newly-created court system, and I met another handful of Australians who are working to make changes in the family law system outside the courts. In other words, I met a sampling of the entire holistic system being created in Australia.
  • I taught my own workshop, and it was very well received. In the past, I have taught, and I have gotten, at best, lukewarm feedback, sometimes awful. This one was nothing but great feedback. I will disclose that this presentation was about technology, and I'm 28. I think, for the first time, my age was beneficial and not detrimental.
  • I met a woman from Ireland who is on her own mission to change the family courts there and make them more transparent, and she wants to collaborate our research, so we can think about creating a framework for countries and states and counties to follow when creating their family courts. 
  • I helped set up a mentorship program to bring new blood into AFCC. We had no idea what to expect, and we had such a wonderful turnout. Everyone wanted to give back. 
  • I met amazing people from down the street in Arizona to Pennsylvania to Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Israel, and Canada. I saw old friends/colleagues who inspire me and teach me every time I see them.
  • And I taught yoga. Yes, I'm saving the best for last. I was on the schedule to teach 2, 45-minute classes. The first day, the class was so big, we had to find a bigger room. The second day, they asked for a third day. The third day, I nearly cried. 

Teaching those yoga classes was really my first time teaching people I did not know. I used the conference as the basis of my themes for the three days, and for the most part, found a way to combine the two. It was this blog in action. It was my future in action. And interestingly, I was so tired that it was not a conscious effort. I had to open up to Grace, open up to that which guides us, because I had no physical strength left. Physically, these conferences are exhausting. Emotionally, professionally, even spiritually, they are uplifting and amazing.

I have had a lot of experiences over these past few months/years where I recognize that I am going with the flow, working with, not against, the Universe. For four days in Denver, I completely stepped into that role. There was no way to try to force anything. It was just like being back in the percussion pit where you do not have time to think - if you think, you miss a note. Instead, you let go and let the music play you. This time, years later, I let the Universe play, and I had the most incredible four days of my life. 

I left that conference knowing, deep down, what I am going to do for the four months between when my current job ends and when I leave for New Zealand. I am going to teach yoga workshops to legal professionals, whether they be lawyers, psychologists in the legal field, mediators, social workers, or anyone else connected with the law. While I am scared to be rejected, have no idea how to advertise, and have no idea where to start, I know this is my work. Now it is in writing. Now I must open to Grace for the next step.

Namaste and Blessings!

(c) Rebecca Stahl 2010


  1. this is an amazing and inspiring story! i'm so glad to hear that your yoga classes were well-received at the conference, and that you're able to bridge the duality of your two worlds. it's amazing how the universe supports us when we align with our skills and talents, and when we open to grace. best of luck with your time leading up to NZ!

  2. Thank you, Roseanne. I agree that the universe is a great supporter when we allow it to be.

  3. Good luck to you! I am sure you will be further supported from ABove. Once you open up for grace it will surely continue flowing to you.
    I am also a lawyer, though I left it for yoga, but I am so happy to see that in your life you find passion for both. My best wishes to you. A Budapest yogini from Hungary.

  4. Thanks. I was distraught as a lawyer/yogi until I reached out, and the response has been great. More and more lawyers are turning to yoga and meditation, and it's fun to be part of it. My family is from Budapest (my grandfather, actually). It's a beautiful city.