Growing up I wasn't told about the importance of surrender. When I think of it now, I wasn't informed of it during most of my adulthood life. This concept was only given to me when I was introduced to yoga.
From as young as I can remember, life has always been about those lyrics from the Bob Marley song, Buffalo Soldier. “Fighting for survival”. I often feel as if I've spent most of my lifetime either; fighting, pushing, pulling or surviving. Just like all of those busy commuters that I used to get on the train with, when I worked in London. It was that mentality of “everyone for themselves”. I admit that my mentality at that time in life was, “If I don't push my way through and create space for me, then no one else will help me”
Although this mentality was exhausting during every commute, it felt necessary. Especially when I'd spent most of my childhood being pushed around in the playground. I believed that this was my time to stand up and be counted.
The fitness industry drew me in with this fighting perspective, therefore it became a natural progression for a natural born fighter. In this industry, the mindset is to; pull, grunt, dig deep and beast yourself, as they like to call it. You only have to look at the Facebook status updates such as: “I just smashed my workout this morning”. Fighting is what everybody seems to talk about these days.
Back in my fitness days, I taught group fitness classes with aggression and vigor like a military sergeant preparing troops for war. Shouting at participants. “Come on, is that the best you can do?” “If you really want those results, you have to earn them” etc., etc., etc. I have a whole catalog of vocabulary stored that flows easily from my lips. In my mind if you wanted anything in life you had to earn it, you had to work for it, surrender was never on the agenda.
It was only during my yoga teacher training that I was frequently pulled up for not showing softness, serenity or surrender. To be honest, I didn't know how to surrender, let alone what it meant to do so in a practice or in life. Since then, it's frequently come up to me in some way or form and I'm starting to see the logic in it but most importantly I'm learning to be able to do so.
When I think about surrender, I think of two medieval knights in the middle of a battle for the heart of a fair maiden. At whatever cost, even their own lives, they would never surrender back then, I'm sure! They didn't show weakness and throw down the sword and give up. They’d fight until death, until all they had left was dignity, and even then, it was taken away with one swipe of the sword. However, said knight would be a hero and one whose name will live on…Okay, I know that we're not in those dark ages but, in my eyes, surrender is the ultimate giving up on yourself and life.
Here's what surrender has meant to me in life and in Yoga.
For many years my dream was to meet my handsome prince, fall in love and have my very own family and the rest (the struggle) would be history. However, at thirty-four, it hadn’t happened, and believe me, it wasn’t for not trying. I tried so hard to meet someone and settle down, that if there was a medal for trying, mine would have been platinum. I dated hard, looked everywhere, and done just about everything you can think of apart from surrender.
When I finally surrendered and let go, which I realize now that I was never really in control of life anyway, I met someone incredibly special and fell crazy stupid in love with him. All I did to find this person and create this special relationship was to surrender.
At my moment of surrender, I realized that my fear of losing, my fear of not being or having enough, kept me fighting and pushing and pulling and surviving. In the end, all I was doing was causing more pain and heartache by this upheaval.
With surrender, it's simply accepting where you are right now and actually being okay with it.
So, choose to also surrender to your yoga practice.
Surrender in any way, shape or form. During my days in fitness training, surrendering was just the most ridiculous thing that I'd heard. To surrender in your workout and expect results – that was just silly.
I know yoga is not a workout, but it's still a physical practice (at least the asana limb). With that in mind, why would I just give up in a pose!? Well, that's where I used to misunderstand the concept of surrender. It's not about flopping into a pose and thinking, “well, I'm not good so why should I bother”. It's about being happy with where you are, right at that very moment in time. When you practice, do it because you enjoy it and avoid looking for the gain or reward at the end of it. Come back to your breath because if you're not breathing slowly and deeply, you're fighting, you're surviving, pushing and pulling and that's not what yoga is all about.
I'm enjoying this journey of surrender, learning the art of it. My findings are that life tends to happen when you just let go of the reins of life.
Thanks for taking your time to read this post! Looking for ways to better understand the art of surrender? Why not spend some time to do so at a weekend yoga retreat?