I’m not gonna lie. It has been hard to sit down and write something for this month’s theme.
I’ve been avoiding it because, quite frankly, this is the one with which I’ve the most difficulty.
Ishvara Pranidhanani - Surrender
I was thinking I could start with a story from childhood where I had to surrender my body to doctors for examination in my cancer treatment.
Or the times when I’ve been on stage with a dance partner completely one with rhythm and movement.
Or I was even considering sharing some of the most profound meditation experiences I’ve had in India or in ceremonies where I felt one with nature and the world.
But all of these stories felt like I was pointing at something that I’m honestly still grappling with.
This is the most nuanced and difficult of the Niyamas for many of us, especially those of us living in America, where, independence, autonomy and manifest destiny are woven into every breath of every interaction.
Miriam Webster defines Surrender in four ways: 1a: to yield to the power, control, or possession of another upon compulsion or demand; b: to give up completely or agree to forgo especially in favor of another; 2a: to give (oneself) up into the power of another especially as a prisoner; b: to give (oneself) over to something (such as an influence)
Wow. Can we look at the third definition for a second?
to give (oneself) up into the power of another especially as a prisoner
That doesn’t sound enticing.
I take pride in my independence.
I have gone through enough therapy to heal my codependent tendencies to make certain that I am no one’s prisoner.
So if I can accomplish so much on my own, why would I ever want to surrender to anyone or anything?
My personal moments of surrender have come at times when I’ve been completely incompetent and powerless, when I've been face down in the arena, so to speak. These are the times when I’ve admitted my addictions, when I’ve needed to apologize for the deep hurt I've caused and when I've been lost, broke, and hurt. Each surrender softened and enabled me to finally receive the help I needed to get back up again.
By releasing my strongly held identity with independence, which actually restricted and separated me from others, I was able to experience the beautiful and difficult truth of our lives…
We are not alone and We are not responsible for everything.
Ishvara Pranidhanani helps us to calm the never ending fluctuations of our minds and to savor the freedom of not carrying the burden of all of life’s responsibilities. Thank goodness, right?!
In my experience, this practice gets easier when we have a direction to place our surrender.
I recommend placing your fears, control and responsibility not in something that fluctuates or is impermanent, like another person or the “almighty dollar”. But rather, we surrender to something permanent and universal…
Love is not fear. Love is not separation.
Love is the uniting force that brings life into this world.
So I ask you, what is your connection to Love?
How do you communicate with Love?
What are your practices to allow Love to be a part of every moment of every day of your life?
How do you surrender into Love?
For centuries, people have found that a relationship with an intimate, personal embodiment of love through the divine is necessary and the polytheistic nature of Hinduism is a gift for many because there are so many embodiments of love to choose from.
The choice is ours. How do we choose Love?
Developing a deeply personal and intimate relationship to Love is not an easy path, but it is the most rewarding, enlightening and healing path. In fact, as yogis, it is our only path. To surrender our guards, to let another in, to allow an old story to melt away and a new story to take shape and, ultimately, to let ourselves be humbled by the adventure of Love is what propels us forward on the unfolding eight-limb path and to know our great journey to Samadhi.