Mindful awareness

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Surrender Experienced as Ease

I remind myself as I head into a few months of heavy travel of my ongoing lesson of learning to surrender. I’m a planner with every idea of how I expect my travel to be and my life to unfold. I expect airlines to transport me on schedule and on time so I can catch connecting flights. I expect menu items in foreign countries to be served the way I interpreted the menu. Of course none of these things happens often. More often than not travel goes awry and my plans get turned upside down. But travel is trivial. I’ve been fortunate to have only a couple of big life crises, way fewer than some people I know. Any of these events offer lessons to surrender.

I cannot control everything and there are times that I need to let go of my expectation. One day I’ll remember that it is my response to the event that causes me more suffering than the event itself. My pattern is to struggle against the disappointing event and to make it right. I argue to make the other person see my perspective and change course. I argue with the airline ticket agent even though he has no authority to find another plane. But because I have no control over these circumstances my only real course of action is to surrender. Only after I finally surrender my struggle do I finally find ease and peace. The outcome might not be what I wanted but in the end what will happen will happen. I may as long go with it and accept the outcome.

I find hip openers to be a great way to work with surrender on my mat and I hope that practice there helps me to surrender to life circumstances out of my control. Of course my dear yoga students practiced lots of hip openers last week because that is what was on my mind. For most people eka pada rajakapotasana (pigeon pose) is an excellent example of surrendering into the pose. In this deep hip opener people often tense the muscles around the hip and pelvis rather than relaxing them. In fighting against the pose they feel the challenge of the hip external rotation opposing hip internal rotators that are tight from sitting much of the day. People often feel themselves further opposing the pose by tensing through the jaw, lips, shoulders, and other muscles nowhere near the hips. This week we practiced exhaling away that tension. We tried to stay with the pose by surrendering into it, feeling length in the hip muscles and ease with the result. If that is an easy lesson then try it in double pigeon pose (knee to ankle pose)!

Perhaps posting this blog will help me to surrender to travel snafus. Who knows how well I’ll implement my own recommendations to stay present and find ease by surrendering to the circumstances. I know I will try. May each of you find ease and peace as you let go and surrender to the challenges the holiday season brings.

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