Intention: Ishvara Pranidhana (Surrender.)
Surrounded. Surrounded by news of COVID-19, surrounded by fear, and surrounded within our own walls. Perhaps the walls are the walls of our house which, in our perspective, can change from feeling safe to feeling smothered. Perhaps the walls are more emotional as we feel "tapped out" putting in more hours at work, caring more for loved ones, getting less sleep, and/or losing a loved one and not being able to grieve as we normally would. How do we find our peace again? How do we find ourselves?
At times when we feel overwhelmed, or lost, or when we seem to feel nothing at all, our knee-jerk response may be to try harder. We may believe that the space between what we are feeling right now, and what we desire to feel, could possibly be lessened by filling up that void with a myriad of activities designed to either distract from or numb the discomfort we are experiencing. When the noise of our previous routines dulls to silence, we may answer with habitual thoughts or judgments which fill our heads, but leave the heart empty. We also may resort to trying to find control in an uncontrollable situation. In sum, we may be trying to grip more tightly on the familiar to try to squeeze it into something that is more comfortable for us, whether it serves us well or not.
It may feel counter-intuitive for us to let go when holding on feels like the natural response. When the rug gets pulled out from underneath us, we generally want to fall into comforting arms, or at the very least, land softly. The beauty of yoga asanas is that not only do we get to pick the style of practice which calls to us, we also get to fashion each pose and breath within our practice. Rather than moving into a predictable sequence, it may be the time to surrender, letting our Inner Physician heal us from the inside out. The movement in and out of asanas was originally designed to calm the mind and spirit so that we can more clearly discern what God is saying to us. Finding release in powerlessness, and trusting that the Teacher is giving us exactly what we need for our next lesson allows us to loosen our grip on what we think should happen, and leave us open to accepting what is happening now. As Shiva Rea expressed in YogaJournal,
"As you practice asana, you can start treating challenging yoga poses as microcosms of life's difficulties, and thus great opportunities to practice the art of offering. In my own practice, I am becoming more and more able to recognize tension as a signal; holding and gripping are signs that my connection with Ishvara pranidhana is lessening. As I offer my tension back to the Source, emptying and surrendering again, I very often experience a boost of strength or a deepening of my breath and flexibility. Even more importantly, I experience a shift from my small, crowded inner world to a big picture of being alive."
In the times we find ourselves gripping the tightest, we can welcome deliverance in surrender. Allowing our bodies and minds to fall into the Divine and offering ourselves up in service saves energy in our souls previously used for a perceived sense of control. In opening our hearts, the walls of uncertainty come tumbling down. In emptying ourselves, we are surrounded with peace.