Finding Strength in Surrender
"Surrender to what is. Let go of what was. Have faith in what shall be."
If you have ever paddled a kayak or a canoe in a river, you know that paddling down stream is much easier than upstream. There is an ease in going with the flow. The river effortlessly carries you. When going against the current, you can paddle as hard as you can and still feel like you're going nowhere. The fifth niyama in yoga, (positive duty or observance recommended for healthy living and spiritual enlightenment) Ishvara Pranidhana, means surrender. This observance is about letting go of control, accepting what is and trusting that something bigger as at work.
Surrendering does not mean we are weak or giving up. Infact, it takes strength to let go. We may have the best laid intentions and plans and then life gets in the way. All of us have experienced some disappointing circumstances since Covid 19. Plans that were canceled, intentions that were never realized and changes in the way we move through everyday life. We can't control how life ebbs and flows. We certainly can't control a pandemic. Control is an illusion. What we can control is our reaction. We can show up to the challenge and not fight it, but be fluid with it. We can lean into the resistance and learn to surf the wave rather than fight the tide. Rather than feeling cheated or victimized when life doesn't go the way we want it, we can open to the new opportunity life is offering us in the moment.
"The ultimate act of power is surrender."~ Krishna Das
We can become aware of our ability to surrender by watching the inner sensations of contraction and expansion. On our mat, we can immediately feel our breath become restricted when were fighting the truth of where we are in our practice. We can feel the expansion of our breath in our practice when we find the ease within our effort. Contraction is a feeling of constriction, tension and pulling in. Expansion is a release, an opening, creating space for new opportunity and wonder. When we find ourselves in contraction, we are fighting life or fearful of life. When we find ourselves in expansion, we are in the flow of surrender.
How can we start to be in the flow of life, especially when we're afraid of the unknown? Faith has the opposite effect of fear. When we begin to trust that there is a greater force at work, it opens us up to the potential that is beyond what we could even imagine for ourselves. We start to understand that we are a part of a bigger picture. We are the river that eventually flows into the whole of the ocean. We find that in the process that we don't lose ourselves but instead become a part of the greatness itself.