Sunday, December 30, 2012

Isvara pranidhana / Sweet and Painful Surrender

This one is big, so big it can't be grasped, or in my experience the minute you grasp's gone, like trying to hold sand. Have you ever tried to hold dry sand? It slips right out of your grasp, you will end up with remnants of little pieces of sand but the whole will be gone. For me that sweetness which is surrender, that moment in your meditation when you come to that place that honestly no words can express, you get giddy thinking "I found it!" and then you want to hold it, you want to feel this way all the time, and poof it's gone. Your memory is that of something so profound and pure that you will always try to reconnect to it and that keeps you going.
As with all my post I write from my perspective and cannot speak for others. I've been to this place so many times and I've been to the other side of this place a million more times. The other side for me is anxiety, distress, anger, frustration, fear, and all the other words that make my heart race, tears come to my eyes, and  cause me to feel out of sorts. We as humans all know the hard times, some more than others, but the truth is we are all connected. None of us gets out of life without pain of some sort. I don't care how rich you are with money, things, will have some pain in your life. Surrendering to God is the definition of Isvara Pranidhana.
What does it mean to Surrender? You will have to ask yourself, you will have to look into your soul to find out. I cannot give you the answers and no one else can, a teacher can do one thing for you, give you guidance. Because to surrender means one thing, you don't know, you don't have the answers. And to truly surrender we have to be in the now, the present moment.
Many paths can lead to this place, no headstand or down dog alone will get you there. It's a process, there is no easy answer. But what you do have to do to find it is this, start. Start doing something to find peace in your life. A yoga practice, a spiritual practice, a devotion, something that completely takes your mind off your troubles. I'd be lying to you if I said it can only happen through doing asanas, because the truth is it can be found in many places, but you have to be open to not knowing, to letting go, to surrendering to the moment, to be willing to try.
Below I will give you some things that have helped me and continue to help me every day, and some ideas and tools I use to help others. These are also things people have shared with me over the years.

Ideas to cultivate awareness, humility, surrender, modesty, and acceptance of a higher power. 

  1. Give thanks. Say thank you on paper or in your heart everyday for what you have been given. Several times in my life I have kept a gratitude journal, giving thanks for three things a day. 
  2. Be with positive people. When you have troubles don't go to a negative person for help, find someone who is honest and positive to talk to. 
  3. Get out in the sun and in nature and marvel at how the world and all the living things work to create a whole. 
  4. Watch a small child or an animal. Looking and observing someone or an animal that is not concerned with what others think of them. 
  5. Meditate: Consciously turning your mind off or finding something to focus on like a mantra (words repeated over and over for a time period, such as "peace"). There are tapes for guided meditation and there are many teachers. Allowing for quite time allows for creativity. I've heard it and experienced it, for every hour of quite time your working time seems to increase. 
  6. Listen and stop talking. You cannot learn when you are constantly talking. Evaluate your words and don't talk if you don't feel led. 
  7. Take in each of your senses, take time to fully appreciate good music by closing your eyes and feeling it, taste your food, enjoy and find things to wear that are soft against your skin, have good smells in your home and around you, make your space a place to feed your senses. A comfy bed loaded with comfy covers, a nice candle, good music, luscious natural food, beautiful things to look at that make you happy. 
  8. Keep your area clean and clutter free, clutter makes us anxious and weighs us down. 
  9. Enjoy a yoga class and cultivate how you feel in the poses.
  10. Take a deep long breath and exhale slow and long and get all the carbon dioxide out of your lungs. 
  11. Stop complaining, try to go a whole day without saying something negative. 
  12. Compliment someone.
  13. Help someone that needs your help.
  14. Smile at others.
  15. Be kind, everyone has their own struggles. That person that pulled out in front of you could have been up all night with a sick person or struggling with pain you have never known. 
  16. Give hugs.
  17. This is a big one for me: When I am in the throws of anxiety I think "God has always taken care of me. Yes I have had trouble in my life and I have lost people to death, divorce, and indifference, but I have always had shelter and food and someone in my life who loves me." The fact is things may be hard now but they do get better and life is not dessert everyday. If today is hard know that it won't always be this way. 
  18. Surround yourself with some community. Don't be alone all the time. It's not healthy. If you are single then find something to do that involves interaction, join a group, go to the gym, go to church, go to a yoga studio. Find your people. 
  19. Read something positive and put positive quotes in your path. I put positive sayings around my home and office. 
  20. Do something nice for yourself everyday. Make a cup of your favorite coffee, tea, or go for a walk. Make sure you carve out a little time each day that is not taxing or stressful. 
These are just a few tips, I am no expert. The truth is I've struggled with paralyzing anxiety my entire life and this is why I continually look for ideas that give me peace. I hope you have renewed peace now and in the coming year. 

Happy New Year 2013,