On Surrender...

This week has not exactly gone as planned.

On Wednesday night, I made a decision that my body was telling me enough was enough with the amount of yoga I had been doing. Seven harder core classes in three days was just not something my body was interested in doing this week - retreat or no retreat -and my lower back particularly was insistent on this point. So, for the first time in my yoga practice, I surrendered to what my body was really telling me to do. I did an entire class at about 60-70% of what I could normally do as far as intensity. There was not an upward dog to be found, and every low push-up was on my knees. I took child's pose often and I took a knee in crescent pose every time. And then Amy, who was teaching, casually mentioned something that really struck a chord with me. Her words:

"Outside of the mat, no one gives you points for surrender - but we should really think about doing it more."

She was right - you don't discuss "surrendering" at your performance review, nor do you usually highlight it as a deep, enduring quality of your personality. Well, at least I don't.

And that got me thinking - what is surrender?

I've been doing a lot of surrendering to the present. I like to think of myself as a recovering hypochondriac and chronic worrier. When you are given these personality "gifts" as a part of who you are, you don't cure it - you learn to work around it :o) I am in a state of pretty large transition in my life. I'm in a new, much larger role at work than I have ever been in - which is scary and exciting all at the same time. I'm traveling more and seeing less of friends and family. I'm relying a little more on the independent me in all facets of my life. I'm preparing to move across the country. I'm slowly, surely starting to say good-bye to little bits of my life in Boston, but trying not to dwell on things like "oh, my last Thanksgiving here" or "my last first Thursday of December here" - lest I dissolve into a puddle of tears and emotion. There is a time and place for that - but likely not in the middle of a hip hop yoga class or a conference call. In the midst of all this, I'm trying to keep it real - to love what I'm doing at 4pm today - not worrying about what 4pm will look like in three months in a different city. I'm trying so incredibly hard to keep the "what ifs" and "what thens" away.

This living in the present is a surrender for me - it's a departure from what my mental state has been for most of my teenage and adult life- which had been more of a "fight AND flight" response to any number of things - mostly driven by fear of what lay ahead or what wasn't yet known. I have realized that what I've learned to do at age 30 is similar to what people describe about infants - they learn to calm themselves down after a while. I am learning how to "self soothe" in my fourth decade. Never too late to learn new things! Yoga did that for me - it lets me go to a place - beyond asanas, beyond that physical practice - where I can center in my breath and ground myself deep in the present.  And as I think about it - that's really a lot of surrender in comparison to where I was before.

It never ceases to amaze me how the physical leads you to the emotional and round again. How amazing that we truly are, each of us, a connected mind, body, and spirit.

A physical practice led me to class on Wednesday, and the emotional led me to surrender. It kept me surrendering all the way through today with an unexpected break from my practice. And the physical will lead me back tonight to try again.

And so it goes with surrender.

- Grateful Yogi