noun \ˈgrās

  • a disposition to show kindness and compassion towards others
  • the freely given, unmerited love and mercy given to us by God
  • the influence of spirit operating in humans
  • a temporary pardon or exemption
  • a non-anxious presence

People often struggle to find the right words when defining what grace means to them. Grace typically evokes a feeling response as opposed to a thinking response, and even if it can’t be described adequately, we all know how grace feels.

Shortly after beginning qigong I felt more energetic, motivated, focused, and happy, and my anxiety related symptoms virtually disappeared. But there was something else I felt, something intangible that can only be described as a sense of grace. It was this feeling that compelled me to practice grace in my teachings of qigong and to inspire my students to do the same.

Practicing grace is a way of being. It means moving through all the trials of life guided by an inner compass that points to acceptance and kindness…for self and for others.

In my classes and private sessions, I strive to create a warm and compassionate space for students to access their own healing power. I encourage students to be humble and gentle with themselves as they explore qigong and find practical ways to integrate it into their busy lives.

Perhaps, the following testimonial best describes what Practicing Grace Qigong is all about…

"I just want to share how qigong helped me get through a project that I have been quite anxious about. I had an important proposal to submit today, and I noticed my usual panicking and negative habits coming up. I decided to consciously choose differently this time, so I did some breathing and started my day early with some intuitive movements. I ended up standing for most of my computer time today, which is unusual, but it felt good as I took little qigong movement breaks and my proposal felt way smoother and clearer than ever! I’m trying hard not to attach myself to the outcome and just acknowledge that I felt really positive, happy, and actually energized afterward instead of my usual post stress stupor!

So I just want to say, as Patti has many times, that no matter the infinite variables, I do believe "Practicing Grace" completely helped switch and uplift something for me today! And I say “Practicing Grace” and not just qigong, because I believe it is more than just the practical exercises, and so much about the power of our group and the energy I know we are sharing with one another.”

Michelena Bamford: Student of Practicing Grace Qigong


Long before Hinduism and Buddhism, the wise masters of India practised and transmitted powerful mantras of which the Hamsa meditation is said to be foremost.

This timeless wisdom mantra belongs to the ancient Vedic spiritual tradition. The Vedas are the oldest of man’s scriptures, ancient holy texts passed down through the generations. The mantra itself is part of the oral tradition that has continued through these many centuries. Although it is not a Buddhist meditation, it belongs to the Indian yoga tradition that the Buddha himself practised during the six years of austerity in the wilderness that led up to his enlightenment; I think therefore that it is probably safe to surmise that the Buddha himself used this mantra at some point in his practice.

The mantra itself is deceptively simple. All we need to do is breathe in and out through the nostrils. As we do this we repeat to ourselves the syllable Ham on the in-breath, and the syllable So on the out-breath.

So simple. So natural. So freeing.

Repeat on the in-breath: Ham.

On the out-breath: So

The syllable Ham represents and embodies the expansive masculine yang energy; the syllable So represents the centripetal yin, feminine energy.

Hamsa means white swan. The swan, of course, is an ancient symbol of spiritual grace and purity. The mantra is called White Swan because when the in-breath and out-breath are freed and purified, they are like the wings of a swan helping our spirits to soar. The Hamsa mantra helps us find the grace within and carries us beyond our limited concepts. It helps us shed negative feelings that we are ugly ducklings and reminds us that we are all graceful and pure swans. It can help our spiritual lives take wing.

Ancient teachings say this mantra is a vibration of infinite consciousness, uniting us each with the divine source. It is said that this mantra helps us erase duality and the sense that we are different or separate from each other. We cannot find the enlightenment we seek until we realize that we are all one; there is no ‘other’. The Hamsa meditation helps us connect with the divine love and profound energy that flows through the universe and through each of us.

The Hamsa meditation is also known as the ‘I am that’ meditation. This means that the Hamsa meditation gives us an awareness of the connection between the divinity within each of us and the greater infinite divinity. The mantra is also sometimes called the SoHam meditation since it makes little difference which syllable comes first. Once Ramana Maharshi had his disciples contemplating his favourite spiritual practice of questioning and self-inquiry, asking themselves ‘What Am I?’ One of his students, as if in answer, said, ‘So ham’. He said true. So hum! So ha!

This mantra embodies the ultimate question as well as the answer. It is said that, in each being, the mantra Hamso/Soham continuously throbs and pulsates subconsciously, and that in each twenty-four-hour period the breath or the heart repeats this mantra 21,600 times. It naturally circulates between the throat and forehead chakras as a radiant energy sphere or spiral, which when visualized and breathed completes the cosmic circuit and illuminates all the higher chakras and psychic vortices, awakening us into cosmic consciousness.

We can visualize the mantra written in a circular clockwise fashion around the petals of the lotus-shaped heart chakra, with one syllable inscribed on each petal. Imagine the lotus wheel of the chakras spinning as the mantra turns, spinning off dazzling radiance of light rays and blessings.

We can also use the mantra to ‘bring down’ the blessings from above, evoking it from the divinity within. We do this by breathing in and saying Ham as we visualize light streaming down from the infinite higher power source above the head. Watch it travel down through the crown aperture and instantly descending down the central energy channel into one’s heart chakra, making it blaze brightly with light and higher consciousness. Then on the so, as we exhale, we visualize all that love and light radiating out from the heart chakra. We do this again and again – hamsohamsohamsoham – with light and consciousness coursing through and purifying everything. Indian Vedanta masters teach that the Hamsa mantra is all pervasive and dwells within all beings and all forms, like the ultimate self-nature of the universe.

From Letting Go of the Person You Used to Be, Copyright 2004 by Lama Surya Das.