Category Archives: Yoga Quotes

Trust + Surrender: The Art of Letting Go

“Stop fighting and resisting. Try something different – surrender.” – Rumi

MY STORY ON SURRENDER

Four years ago, I found myself at an ashram in Thailand, studying yoga and meditation. I arrived disoriented from heartbreak, dizzy with confusion, incredibly lost and feeling alone. I had been practicing, and teaching yoga for years already, but recent life events left my mind turbulent, my heart shattered and my body locked up like a box.

At this training in the jungle on a foreign island, I held my sad, beaten heart in my hands and presented it to my teachers. They consoled me, and told me that even when I felt like I was suffocating in meditation, to just keep gently breathing into that tender spot in the center of my chest.

“It will open and heal,” they promised.

After a month of intense practice, Asana, (yoga postures,) Sadhana, (daily spiritual practice,) meditation and journaling, we sealed our time together with a closing ceremony. A fire homa they called it. It smelled like incense and the fire they created with palm leaves was warm and bright. Our teachers dotted the space between our eyebrows with sacred ash, red turmeric and sandalwood— or something like that.

At the end, we were given small slips of paper, and were asked to write our Sankalpa, our intention, that we would like to carry with us into the year ahead.

Almost instinctively, my heart traveled down my arm, through my hand and into my grip on the pen, and begged for surrender.

“I am opening up in sweet surrender,” it wrote.

At that time, I really didn’t know what it meant for me, or how this nine letter word would present itself in my life for a whole year.

I devoted myself, and my life to that intention. In times I found myself anxious and worried, tightening my grip on life, and structuring how things ought to be, I soothed myself with this word— surrender. This word dissolved my armor, it woke up my sleepy eyes, and finally, my heart broke open.

Literally, in meditation one day, a cracking sound thundered from the bones of my sternum followed by a flood of blissful tears flowing from my face.

Surrender unchained me from myself. I opened up to the whole Universe, and the Universe opened up to me.
img_1609SURRENDER IN YOGA

In Sanskrit, we call the concept of surrender Ishvara Pranidhana. Surrendering (Pranidhana) to a higher source; to the Divine (Ishvara.) Beautiful.

“Surrender is the intersection between acceptance, and change.” – Unknown

With all of my heart, I know that surrender is not submission. It is not backing down. It is not irresponsible, laziness, passivity or being unambitious. It does not mean ‘giving in’ nor does it mean ‘losing’ control or a battle.

The only thing you will lose by surrendering, is frustration, bondage and suffering.

The art of surrender is means to yielding to the flow of life with radical acceptance, ease and grace. Surrender is the opening of our hearts to the unknown, and trusting with faith in the Perfect unfolding of Now. Surrender is a process of letting go of the ‘small’ Self to the ‘big’ Self in each moment. Surrender is an opportunity to tune into the qualities of openness and receptivity to invite total freedom and peace into our lives. Surrender is Freedom.

SURRENDER VS CONTROL

+ Acceptance | Resistance
+ Being | Doing
+ Releasing | Grasping
+ Openness | Closedness
+ Softness | Security
+ Yielding | Resisting
+ Fluidity | Rigidity
+ Ease | Effort
+ Flow | Stagnation
+ Flexibility | Breakable

PRACTICE SURRENDER: ISHVARA PRANIDHANA

1. Release how you think things ought to be, and appreciate things as they are. Surrender the expectation that something is wrong if it doesn’t go according to your plan.

2. Steep in the Bliss of simply Being, instead of always doing.

3. Let go of ego, expectation, judgement and attachment- to outcomes, to things, to people, to ideas or concepts.

4. Surrender to the Truth of your Experience in every moment – whatever that is. In this moment there may be happiness, frustration, contentment, anger, joy, shame, gratitude or grief. There is nothing personal about your thoughts or emotions. They are simply phenomena passing through your awareness. Allow these experiences to come and go- without resisting displeasurable ones, or clinging to pleasurable ones.

5. Give yourself the permission to really feel what you feel, because what you feel, you heal. What we resist, persists. And while emotions and thoughts aren’t personal, they are valuable pieces of information. Pain informs Strength. Confusion informs Clarity. Failure informs Wisdom. Grief informs Compassion. And so on.

6. Open yourself up to the Perfect Bliss of Now, instead of resisting it or wishing life were any other way than it is. Wholeheartedly engage with each and every moment, as it is, and recognize the Absolute Perfection in it all.

7. Have faith and trust that you always have been, always are, and you always will be supported by Life. You are living proof that you’ve survived every moment of your life so far – and will continue to thrive. Life gives us precisely what we need in each and every moment for our hearts to open and souls to Awaken. Trust that you are exactly where you need to be. Surrender to the process and have faith that all is perfect.

8. Be open to the possibility that something may be greater than you alone and what you are able to control. Surrender your fear and pain, and witness something far greater than that which the fear was trying to protect.

You are not a salmon, so stop swimming up stream. Practice Ishvara Pranidhana. Go with the Perfect Flow of Life. Surrender to what is. Surrender in pigeon pose. Surrender to love. Surrender, and Be Free.

How can you surrender to move through life with peace, ease, grace and fluidity?

“Do No Harm, But Take No Shit”

“Do no harm, but take no shit.”

Messages of compassion and loving-kindness unite most world religions today; the notion of non-violence or non-harming.

In yoga, we call this concept Ahisma.
Ahisma means to take responsibility for our own thoughts, words, actions and behaviors, to cause no harm to other beings.
It is about living in harmony with one another.
But we live in a world where the art of being human isn’t all rainbows and lollipops,
(though sometimes it is!)

There is also pain, suffering, harassment, trauma and plenty of ego.
This is half the beauty of our entire human experience.
But this is a breeding ground for causing both conscious and unconscious harm or violence to others
(of course as a projection of their own pain, but that’s a whole other blog post.)

Dealing with shit as yogis, empaths, conscious beings and generally good people of the world, we are constantly challenged to find the balance between the ‘ignorance is bliss’ path of keeping your head down to disregard the violence and abuse present in our world and resenting every human being that crosses our path.

We have made it our life mission; our practice, to be
neutral, resilient, unaffected
by the shit that comes our way.
This shit presents itself in the form of
abuse, manipulation, injustice, harassment.
And such an illusion this supposed dharma of always being cool as a cucumber really is.

Hurt people hurt people.

But someone’s own pain is no excuse to harm, or abuse, or harass others.
It is the highest dharma, (life mission,) of hurt people to transform the poison of abuse into a medicine to heal themselves so as not to perpetuate the cycle of destruction.

It is important to understand that the concept of Ahisma also means to the best of your ability, to prevent or attempt to stop the potential harmful behaviors by others to both others, and yourself.

Mistreatment to any beings on this earth creates a karmic imbalance, (which surely will be taken care of eventually in their souls adventures through the cosmos,) but need not the rest of the world suffer for someone’s cruel behavior in the meantime.

Standing up for others is both brave and kind.
But standing up for your self is the greatest act of heroism.

There is an old story about a yogi and a cobra.

“There was a big, mean cobra that lived in a village and he would bite anyone that would come too close. A Yogi came to stay at the village and one day, decided to practice right beside a tree near the cobra. The cobra slithered over to the yogi and lifted up as if to bite him until he realized that the yogi didn’t want to harm the snake so he didn’t bite him. The cobra said to the yogi that he wanted to learn all about yoga and the yogi told the cobra he would come back in a year to teach him if he could practice ahimsa (non-violence) for the entire year. 
So the cobra practiced ahimsa but the village people started to get closer to the snake and they began to throw rocks and him, but still the cobra did not bite them. 
A year went by and the cobra was near death. The yogi asked the cobra what had happened and the cobra told the yogi about the village people, but that he never bit anyone for the entire year. 
The yogi replied –
“I told you to practice non-violence, but I didn’t say you couldn’t hiss.””

So what does this look like for us?

When you can be empathetic, be empathetic.
When you can’t be, just be human.

In times of mistreatment or injustice, look into them; see their pain that is now being projected towards you. Step into their shoes and see the raw roots of their harm.
And send them love, in mind, or word or action.

But in situations that are more sensitive to you, when our own ego fires up and our blood begins to boil. When an old wound is broken open; just be human.
Standing up for your self is the human form of hissing.
And hissing doesn’t have to mean biting.
But this hiss creates boundaries that protect us all.

Accepting abuse from people clearly causes us harm, but it also causes the abuser harm.
They’ve abused you, and now you resent them,
or have harmful thoughts or words to say about them;
without them even knowing it.
And this perpetuates this cycle of karmic imbalance and further separates humanity.

Like the snake, don’t be afraid to hiss.
Transform poison into medicine.
Do no harm, but take no shit.