Several years back, there was a group of us that gathered in the Evergreen Lounge after class each week. One of our group had these lovely positive message cards - symbolism of animals. We would each draw one from the pack and read it to the table. One of our group regularly pulled the swan. I’d like to think I remember the message of the swan because I simply heard it so often but I think there is something more to my remembering.
“Don’t give up, give over.”
When I first read those words “give over” I had no clue what they meant. Most messages related to surrender, like “go with the flow” or “be with what is” and “give over” were lost to me. I had no relationship with these words. They were not something that was taught to me in childhood so my adult body/mind was clueless. It wasn’t until a few years ago when
I started playing with what surrender wasn’t, that I started to get somewhere. I know what surrender is not - controlling, resisting, pushing, grasping and pulling. So that is where
I began. When I came upon the “what it isn’t practice” it was like a light went on. I had real life, tactile experience now to sense. I had a relationship with all of those other words. So, I would often ask myself; “Am I pushing? Am I pulling? Am I grasping? etc. And then stop and then listen. Often, if the answer was yes, there was accompanying tension - tight jaw, tense belly, hard eyes and a voice saying “yes, but…”.
So why am I writing about this, at this time? Well, as many of you know, I was sick (and missed) the last week of the session. I received a lovely virus that wreaked havoc on my throat, ears and eyes. Twelve days later, I am just now starting to feel I am on level ground again. I have not been sick like this, for such a long period of time, in a very long time. I thought I would be totally miserable and stressed. I wasn’t.
I stayed even keeled and level headed, for the majority of the time.
Yes, I felt woozy, uncomfortable, and I was in pain some of the time. But I never dropped into a depression, got irrationally irritable or felt hopeless. I cannot be 100% certain, but I suspect it had to do with making a commitment, when the first signs of sore throat appeared, to surrender. I consumed herbs, foods and drugs that would ease my discomfort and support my health, I rested a lot, BUT I didn’t do those things with pushing, pulling, or controlling in mind like “this has to work!”. I simply did what was available to me and then surrendered to the process of being sick and of healing. When I felt impatience arise, I reminded myself to soften into it. When fear of health, finances, etc arose, I asked myself, “what do I gain by stressing out?”. When the searing pain in my ears came on, I relaxed my face and got curious about the sensation I was feeling - experiencing them instead of resisting them.
Ok, buckle up!
I am grateful (yup, grateful!) for this slow-to-heal-multi-faceted “thing” so that I had a chance to really, really practice surrender. To do what I could in the moment and then to give over and simply
“be with/experience” what is.
So, as I do when i share musings, I offer up some questions:
If something is here, right now, and you cannot do anything to change it, can you allow it to be?
Can you see or feel precious energy being used up as you resist what is?
Can you see/feel the excess mental and physical tension being created and held as you hold onto
(originally written and shared in 2007)
I started down the rabbit hole of looking at convenience & speed vs. quality, and as usual, it brought up
a myriad of questions like: Is this need for “now” an addiction? When did quality get put aside to
be replaced with convenience, instant results and speed? What’s the hurry anyhow?
Everything is so fast these days; we have instant messaging, instant coffee, fast food, high speed internet…i notice, most often while i am driving, while i am doing the speed limit many other cars are racing past me, that the stop sign has become a “suggestion” rather than a lawful command and pedestrians waiting at cross walks are ignored.
So the next time you have to wait for something, just notice. The next time you are feeling “in a hurry” when behind the wheel of your car, in a line up, or even on your yoga mat, notice.
Notice your breath;
notice what your thoughts are/were doing;
notice your posture;
notice the muscles of your face and shoulders.
The more you “notice”, the more you’ll catch those hurried moments; the more you catch those hurried moments, the more opportunities you will have to move out of tension, connect with this moment and maybe, just maybe find the understanding of “quality time” anywhere and anytime.
In meditation recently, i sat with some of my closest friends.
The first to arrive was Anger; with her clenched fists. Then came Frustration; with her tight jaw, Addiction; with her twitching and flicking eyes. And more continued to arrive. Impatience; with her tapping fingers. Regret; with her heavy heart. As each new arrival came, we all wiggled and shifted to make a space in the circle. Undeserving arrived and wanted to sit outside the circle, sunken and small but we shifted and made space for her too.
And we sat. In meditation. Together.
We simply sat and allowed each of us to "be".
As more arrived, we wriggled and moved to make the circle bigger.
I realized later that surprisingly, Judgement never showed up. She must have been so caught up in forming lists of all the things wrong in the world that our quiet but active gathering didn't even come up on her radar.
By allowing these parts of me to be present in my meditation, i actually created space.
By accepting these aspects of my self, i got out of my own way.
It was one of the most peaceful meditations i have had in a long time.
so i leave you with some questions:
Can you "sit" with all parts of your self?
Can you let go of trying to force change on things that are not as you think
they "should" be?
I was with a friend the other day when i ran into an old student of mine. This student immediately started to tell me all the reasons why she was no longer coming to class. Her body language changed and even her voice shifted - it was obvious she felt guilty and ashamed. I let this woman finish her list and then i smiled and said something along the lines of "It is great that you know your life well enough to know when your schedule is too full. Take care and good luck." I gave her a hug, said it was lovely to see her again and went on my way. My friend later asked me why i did not try to convince her to come back. That is a great question! I hope that people find themselves returning to yoga week after week and year after year because it works for them and they have seen and felt the benefits a regular practice can bring. If not, that is o.k. too.
We have this weird thing in society where we have to make excuses or even lie in order to save face. I am not going to make it a shame party by telling you the way you are living your life is wrong. Your life is all yours and so are your choices. If you come, great. If you don't, great. I appreciate and respect you either way.
Let me repeat that last bit for you, I appreciate and respect you either way.
Now, if you are having a hard time getting to class for whatever reason, and you ask, i will gladly help you troubleshoot. If you need motivation and a push, that is the job for a personal coach or maybe a mother-for-hire....and that will cost extra!
big hugs to all of you!
so the questions i leave you with today are this:
Can you accept your life the way it is?
Can you accept the choices you make?
Can you be honest with those around you?
And if not, can you be o.k. with that?
Can you accept others for who they are? (this does not mean you should allow yourself
to stepped on in any way.)