Kind of scary, isn’t it – the thought of relinquishing control. ‘Letting go’ feels easier to digest, ‘flowing’ better still, but ‘surrendering’ – ooft, it seems so definite. Yet this is the goal of all spiritual paths – to surrender.
I’ve been thinking about this with regards to my own life, in relation to giving up teaching Kids Yoga and co-running Beulah (festival, retreats and parties). Both roles were exciting, at first, but I recognise and accept that they no longer serve me. Letting go of my attachment to them was more difficult – I’d worked hard, for several years, to get them going and both are fairly successful. My journey with them, in this context, is complete though. I see the Kids Yoga as part of my own childhood healing and Beulah as a platform for connection to what is a beautiful community. Surrendering now to the space that they will leave is the scary (and exciting) part.
In yoga we learn to surrender in an asana (position). ‘See if you can find the balance between trying and trying too hard’, Angela Sykes said once in class and it echoes each time I find myself struggling in yoga. It reminds me of the balance we must find in all areas of life – between doing and receiving. Any new situation – city, country, job or personal encounter – brings challenges, but there are also rewards to be had, if we open to them. Holding on or remaining closed in any position can make us stagnant. Surrendering to the tough times – breathing into a position and letting go – brings growth. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali defines asana as ‘to be seated in a position that is firm, but relaxed’. It is the same with life; we need awareness but must remember to surrender too.
Easier said than done, right? Surrendering is innately difficult. Even as babies we quickly establish what we need to do to get what we want – we cry, we get fed. As we grow, we learn manipulation methods too. Society also teaches us to strive – to look for success in education results, job rank and money. Life is all about do, do, do. When are we ever taught to just be and receive, other than in yoga?
Control has become key to our survival strategy. Yet the goal of all spiritual paths is to surrender. Ah, life’s sweet paradox. Or is it?
Let’s break it down by looking at the differences between these doing and receiving/masculine and feminine qualities, which we each have, regardless of gender. The masculine hold which gives us the strength or security to try each new position and the feminine receiving nature that helps us ease into it. In Chinese philosophy they call these complementary, interconnected energetic forces Yin and Yang, symbolically represented as a black and white circle – you will know the image. It is the concept of duality (or non-duality) forming a whole; one is not complete without the other. Such opposing or balancing forces are paralleled on Earth too, with the sun, which helps us grow and the moon, which brings rest. Day and night, push and pull, sun and moon, male and female. We are a microcosm of the macrocosm. Except that, on Earth, the masculine has taken precedence.
In cultivating our more masculine action-based capabilities without balancing it with feminine receiving capabilities, we end up removing trust, which makes us become fearful and controlling. Surrender, on the other hand, which is the ultimate feminine skill, is often, in our male-dominated world, misinterpreted as being weak.
When doing and being (male and female) find balance – when they are united, remember that yoga means union – we become open to the limitless possibilities of life. In choosing to put our energies into doing something, whilst remaining open, or surrendering, to where it takes us – not being fixed on a specific outcome – we create endless opportunity.
Surrender, all of a sudden, doesn’t seem quite so scary; it is simply a natural process of life’s balance. It forms one half of the interplay between personal and divine will or the male and female energies of doing and being. Looking at it from a place of opportunity, it’s exciting too.
Learning to dance with life takes conscious effort. There are slow, intimate occasions; fast, furious, wild moves; dances with lovers; dances with friends; with family; yourself; routines and free dance… And with each, there is the push and pull; the stepping into and the receiving mode; the male and the female position – all of equal importance.
Have you ever thought about whether you lead your life with a more masculine or feminine energy? Which areas of life you could back off from or step more into?
I maladjusted at a young age – to try and protect myself by being more controlling, or masculine. Society obviously helped too. But I am slowly starting to trust more. I’m driven and like having goals, which I see as a good thing, but am working to balance this with an openness to receive, with the ability to surrender, accept and move with each moment, not restricted or attached to any, just flowing with and learning from.
Yoga, like any other aspect of life, doesn’t work when we force, it’s all about consciously doing and then surrendering as we open into each new position.
If you’re interested in trying this old, or natural (although seemingly revolutionary!) way of being, then you might be interested in a workshop I’m truly excited about running with the wonderful Life Coach Karen Heras-Kelly – Learning To Dance With Life. This is an opportunity to really feel into each aspect within you – notice those restrictions you put on yourself, lean into the fear and start to accept and love you in your wondrous totality.