As the current global experience that we are all affected by today can be overwhelming, it might be the most important time to ponder some of the oldest teachings available to us. The yogic teachings, specifically the first two limbs on the eight limb tree in the study of yoga, are meant to be guides that help direct us on our human and spiritual journey on this earth. Non of the teachings are meant to be attained but to be practiced and lived on a daily basis as a guide or orientation map. It has been said that the teachings are like the north star, by following the north star we do not expect to ever arrive at it. The teaching are a map, not the territory itself - the territory is the lived experience day to day and moment to moment. This is worth repeating as it is the heart of what learning is all about. learning through experience and letting go of the need to hold onto any particular result. At this very moment we are asked to let so much go and to sacrifice our life as we know it for an unknown amount of time without any idea of what awaits us on the other side. We are asked to let go of so much right now: expectations, projects, dreams and plans including letting go of our freedom to be with our family, friends and everyone we connect to in person. This is a big ask.
This can feel like war but calling this a war may be a disservice as "war inevitably breeds more war" - Charles Einstein. This is not a war, it is a shakedown. It is very unsettling, confusing and disorienting to say the least but perhaps at this time we are being asked to participate rather than fight. According to Deborah Adele surrender is a dance. "It is as if we are partnered to life in a dance step. We do not lead, nor do we limply drag along like dead weight. As a dance partner to life, we are asked to be vulnerable and undefended, and yet so present we can follow the next move, wherever the leading step takes us, adding our own style as we go."
This brings us to the tenth jewel; the experience of release, the letting go of our need to control and ultimate trust that there is something hidden in each challenge and interruption life presents us with. This teaching asks that we actively engage in the process of letting go. That we be awake, aware and conscious throughout the experience of opening up to the current of life. This is the practice of letting go of the need to have life be a particular way, served to us just like we want or prefer. "Surrender invites us to be active participants in our life, totally present and fluid with each moment, while appreciating the magnitude and the mystery of what we are participating in." -Deborah Adele. By being active participants in the moment and recognizing the severity of what is happening we meet life with courage and action. This is not passive nor is it helpless. It is a means by which we engage in the moment.
We engage when we surrender to our challenges, hardships and struggles with creativity and skill. "History is full of great people who understood that surrender meant giving themselves to a higher purpose because that was what life asked of them...with each challenge life presented them, rather than shrink away, they grew themselves up to meet the moment skillfully. This is not to say we should go looking for greatness , but rather to pay attention to the needs of the moment. If we are aware of what is right in front of us, we will get clues into our own development and direction."- Deborah Adele. In this state of being undefended and vulnerable, as we all are today, perhaps we can find our solace through surrendering to each moment with awakened awareness so that we are aware of the essential role we are all participating in at this time.
One of the ways that we practice surrender on our mat is through Shavasana. Where we lie still and open up to the moment in a way that releases our contracted and resistant state of being. We are asked to accept that there is nothing for us to do and nowhere for us to be, other than here. It is where we are asked to trust our breath and let our breath do what it does, which is breath our body. We are asked to rest in stillness and let go of any tension we may be holding . All the while being conscious.
This is not easy, not at all. It is a challenge, it is not easy to trust, to feel and to be. We are asked to feel our way through the experience and trust that all feelings, emotions and sensations are part of the experience but not the experience itself. Through this knowing, we begin to expand into what we are doing (or not doing). As Deborah Adele writes "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...it is one of the most important practices we can do, for it is here that we begin to learn the meaning of letting go of all the ways we physically and mentally fight with life. As we learn to stop fighting life, we can begin to act skillfully." I will conclude that Surrender is not passive.