We all want things to go the way we believe they should go.
We want things the way we want them. While we may sometimes allow some room for discussion and potential compromise, ultimately, we tend to think we know how things should turn out. We seek that end goal and lose sight of appreciating the process it takes to get where we really need to be.
What we all need and want on a deep level is safety, comfort and peace. When things get difficult, as they inevitably do in life, we want to feel better.
Now. We can talk about releasing the need to have immediate relief all we want to, but when we are the ones hurting, afraid or angry, it gets very difficult to keep peace in our hearts and surrender to the next moment.
The paradox is that it is that very act of letting go of our need to control the situation that brings us peace and comfort and often leads to our safety.
When I was a young child, I played in the woods of Arkansas every day. I ran through these woods, jumping over fallen trees and skipping through creeks. I was not afraid of anything, despite my mother’s constant warning that I should be afraid of rattlesnakes.
Instead, I learned respect for all the creatures of the woods, including the rattlesnakes. I came across rattlesnakes occasionally, but I never let myself give over to my fear. I knew that fear of the snakes would make it more likely that I would react in haste and therefore be bitten. Instead, I always stood quietly in my place, looking peacefully at the snake. I sent calming thoughts to the creature and backed away slowly.
If I had reacted with fear of being bitten, energetically, I would have sent that signal out to the snake. When we know another is reacting out of fear, we tend to be fearful of them and prepare to protect ourselves.
The thing is, if both parties are doing that defensive dance, it leads to hostility. Someone gets hurt. Someone has to be willing to let go of their fear and detach from trying to control the outcome. It makes it less likely that anyone gets bitten.
Applying this to a real world practice we all experience, we can use the example of showering. No one wants the water or soap in their eyes. It burns like hell. But, have you ever noticed that when you squeeze your eyes tightly closed you actually force the water and soap into your eyes? The best way to prevent getting soap in your eyes seems to be to relax.
Of course we don’t leave our eyes open and just let the soap run in, but when we gently close our eyes (no squeezing!) the soap runs harmlessly right over our eyelids.
Yoga practice gives us another daily life exposure to non-attachment. When we are trying to force our way into a pose, we make it that much more likely that we won’t be able to do it. Or, we hurt ourselves and feel frustrated at our efforts.
When we practice surrender, we are able to remember that it’s the practice that is important, not the ability to achieve a specific pose.
We are able to keep softness in our muscles and pay attention to our breath. The paradox is, when we do this, we often achieve our poses with more ease and less pain. We go to the edge of discomfort, but we don’t force through to pain.
It is much more difficult to practice taking this attitude of surrender into our relationships, our work and our finances. These are the things we fear will cause us the most harm, so we struggle against them the hardest.
But, this fear and struggle is what creates and perpetuates the many issues we all face in our day to day lives and we are all waiting for the other guy to lay down their weapons first.
We want to make sure that we are the ones with our mental guns always aimed and ready. We are expecting pain and clenching on that fear. No wonder we keep seeing and experiencing drama. We haven’t completely let go of it, ourselves.
Of course, our own way dealing with the world becomes the way that our family and society deals with the world. We are reflection of each other. There is no they, only us. Each of us is a part of the greater “they.”
We are like cells in a body—tiny parts that make up the entirety. Each cell responds in unity with each other in order to ensure their own survival and the survival of the greater whole. When cells fight each other for their own survival, at the expense of the whole, we call it disease.
If it goes on indefinitely, everything dies, including troublesome cells.
None of us knows the ultimate good of even our own lives, let alone the lives of the entire world. It seems the smart thing to do might be to admit this and relax in the knowledge that we don’t have to control the outcome of everything.
We only have to be responsible for our own inner harmony.
The result is not our business.
But, when we breathe and soften, we are more likely to get where we all want to be.
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Assistant Ed: Steph Richard / Ed: Catherine Monkman