My boss’ boss and her boss took me into their office and informed me that my department of three people was to be dissolved immediately.
I would no longer be a manager and instead my position was “re-structured” to a mere function of training for basic applications.
If my salary was to be cut off or not was to be determined at a later time.
WHAT!? I was sweating, scared and broken on the spot!
The top boss, an eccentric English “piece-of-work” who drove a Rolls Royce from an island he owned was late for his first-class plane ride to London that Friday, so, to cut it all short, he suggested I go home and drink a glass of whiskey.
I am not making it up. Whiskey? What about my salary? What about having to wait a whole weekend? WTF?
|British Airways, First Class.|
See, the thing is at the time I was brainwashed. I had just bought myself a piece of what I believed was the ‘American dream’: a home in the suburbs. So I could not afford to quit on the spot. Little did I know back then that a home is actually just a ‘debt to a bank’—I did not own anything.
Both the “piece of work” and the banks owned me.
|Wells Fargo fooled me into believing I owned
a home. Shame on me. Won’t happen twice.
Therefore, surrendering starts usually when we are young, in that period in which we feel invincible, when we are, well, rather silly, and we fancy ourselves immortal. Generally that is when we feel the first blow, we surrender cause we have to! Here is the list of how I see surrendering happening in action.
1. WE ARE FORCED INTO IT
There was no way out. The situation had changed dramatically for me, even though I fought for a while (and ended up getting my manager title back and my salary intact, although the job sucked. He really should have not told me to go ‘drink whiskey’, that was his mistake!.
In the end I had to accept that change had happened, that things were never going to be the same way they were, and that I had a choice, I could be okay with it and flow, or be miserable for the rest of whatever time I had in that jail. I chose the second one. Was much happier afterward.
And by the way, there is a trick to this, to how to accept a change of circumstances, it is point 2
2.- STOP COMPLAINING
Complaining only adds to the already huge mental mass of powerful negativity the mind gets into, it causes extra stress and resistance, it closes the door on new opportunities because people can smell the negativity.
I got myself a rubber band in my wrist and whenever I heard myself complaint I would hit me with it, so I would learn, in the body, that it was to stop.
In general when I feel a complaint coming now I say to myself, let me see it differently, let me stop the judgement for a moment. In 99% of the cases in which I do this I find another way to deal with things which is more efficient.
3.- OBSERVE GRATITUDE
Gratitude sounds very new-agey but it is one of the most powerful forces in the universe. If you list just 10 things you are grateful for today, including the coffee you may be drinking as you read this, or the time you have to do so instead of having to be harvesting under a sun in a job that pays a dollar an hour, then suddenly you have “perspective”. You see yourself for what you are, in my case a spoiled brat. I am in the top 10% of the world that gets to eat every day, how lucky am I?
Never underestimate the power of gratitude when you are trying to surrender. It is like a shortcut, it gets you there really fast and easy, and underlies how blessed you are.
4.- TAKE UP A PRACTICE LIKE ASHTANGA – HUMILITY
We all know I love Ashtanga, I know the power of it cause I’ve been doing it for a while, if you do not, then you are in for a treat. See here for 32 Suggestions on how to start and Ashtanga Yoga Practice.
A practice like this will humble you to your bones on the very first class. When your immortal self-image all-powerful self that does not want to surrender suddenly faces Utitta Hasta Padangustasana (a very early pose in the primary series which is taught pose by pose and according to your capacity) then you feel it in your very own body, at a seriously visceral level that you cannot even keep your balance on one leg.
It humbles you. Don’t believe me? try it!
Stand up and go with it… here is the You Tube of me doing it. Don’t cheat, the leg comes up to the hand, not the other way around. Notice I am breathing deeply. Go ahead.
It took me 7 years to get there, that is humbling. That is a way of surrendering from the body. From the only perspective -other than your mind- that you have to work with.
This visceral form of practice begins to slowly break down our idea that we are so taugh, so invinsible. Suddenly we unveil our shortcomings.
We surrender cause the frigging leg just won’t go there, darn it! – Refer to point 2 for this reaction.
Oh and by the way, I am now facing kapotasana, a very deep backbend in the intermediate series, so don’t go thinking the surrendering ever ends with the body, yoga has it all figured out!
5.- SHUT UP MORE OFTEN
In general the more you shut up the more you listen. It is hard to do because our ego needs, demands, and loves to be paid attention to. We love the sound of our voice and expressing our ideas. I know I do, I have trouble with this one.
However, it is in the shutting up more often that silences appear.
It is in the silences that the opportunity for something new to develop arises. Try it for once, when someone talks to you, after they finish, before you say anything, make a silence, give them a space. They may say something else, actually they will. If you give another person space they will elaborate more, suddenly an issue you have may be resolved.
Surrender kindly rests in silences.
6.- REALIZE HOW POWERLESS YOU ARE
Yeah, I know, you can do things, plan, arrange, put in the calendar, speculate. I do that, I “intend”. But Intention without letting go, without surrendering is soul dictatorship, and the soul just does not go for that. Never has.
During September of this year I had planned:
1.- Start teaching at the local yoga school
2.- I was going speak at a Yoga conference in Minnesota, meet fellow blogger Nobel and promote ashtanga yoga and its powers. I even shipped free copies of my book to distribute after the talk.
3.- Start writing another book, and
4.- Go to a weekend seminar with Ramaswami.
It was all there in the little boxes of the September calendar, looking pretty. The days came and went and I observed all the way from my Lyme disease bed how the calendar blurred into obliviousness, into antibiotic doses and appointments with doctors, specialists, cardiologists, acupuncturists.
In the end my friend, weather you are going to go to India or not, or sell that company, or get that job is not up to you, even if you try your best.
Things tend to happen, I noticed, in a way that is aligned with the lessons you are here to learn. Surrendering is a big one.
The first step in all 12-step-programs is “we realized we were powerless over ____”. Do you get a gut reaction? I did, I thought “No I am not!” I laugh at that now.
7.- LETTING GO OF THE FORM
As surrendering gets more sophisticated you begin to realize that everything you tell yourself is just a story. You wake up in the morning and the mind impresses itself in telling you how you woke up and how much money you have in the bank and how many yoga asanas you are going to do today and how it compares to last year, and how much better you are at this and how stupid you were when you said that.
The mind labels things and prides itself in knowing. If you practice yoga, at some point you get to this moment, ashtanga is beautiful because it gives you specific tools like drishti or where to place your eyes-gaze so you can turn off the sight and go within, and place the tongue towards your palate, so you can remember to stop talking to yourself, and breath in a specific way so you can listen. You start closing your senses, AND you have a practice, so every day you may get better at it.
Suddenly you start to have moments in which you can observe a landscape without the mind rushing to label everything (“tree”, “river”, “gazebo”, I am so smart! -says your mind- I know everything!)
Instead you have a fresh experience of the present moment. You See things or hear things without the filter of the chattering mind trying to champion the knowing.
I am not gonna lie to you. This is easier said than done. Surrender is a practice.
8.- GRADUATE LEVEL SURRENDERING
At the graduate level of surrendering you understand at a visceral level all previous steps, and begin to live life as a practice of being present for what is arising in this moment. This leads to seeing everything as sacred, and you want to offer it to the divine, to that which is higher in power than us, to whatever the energy that created a universe like this one, or did you think it was you?
You begin to dedicate everything you do to the Divine. Every act with proper humility, silence, no complaining, openness to what really is, IS SACRED and you notice this, perhaps for the first time.
Magic happens at the graduate level, when we incorporate all levels. Prayer becomes possible because we have a subtle appreciation that this is the moment we are riding, at the crest of what is, surfing the beautiful now, where everything is possible.