When I began my yoga practice at 19, I didn't have physical strength, not really. I had three-half-assed-times-a-week-at-the-gym strength, but that was it. Time, dedication, will, and determination have brought me whatever strength-of-body I have now, a decade-plus later.
But that's not the story I'm telling. We're easily impressed or even cowed by what we see a physical body do. Sure, why not? It's a groovy instrument. But true strength, humble and honest, graceful and kind strength? That takes a heck of a lot more than time and dedication to develop. In fact, physical strength is often where we go in lieu of strength of character, tricking ourselves into thinking they're one and the same.
To have strength of grace, you have to be able to walk into a room and let yourself to learn. You have to know that you have nothing to prove. You have to know that, while you may have expertise to contribute, you may be humbled at any moment, and you have to be okay with that. You have to know you are ever a student, and you must take criticism with grace. Not only with grace--but you must take that criticism out and look at it, hold it in your hands, hold it to your heart and ask, 'is this what we need?' And 'is this where we've been blind?'
True strength admits that there are more similarities between us than differences. True strength embraces both and allows for both. True strength doesn't mean never getting frustrated or angry, but expressing those emotions honestly as they arise, looking at them, feeling them out for their truth, and then rectifying the deficiency that brought them on in the first place.
True strength is to be fully, unapologetically, and ever yourself--without excuse, without overbearing ego, but with enough ego to stand your ground and to know that, no matter what is rolled your way, you will be true to this self first, and to know that you will be humble and in ever-loving joyful union with this self first.