One of the main practices that I learned from my years of living in an ashram was the practice of surrender.
Which is another word about learning to trust –trusting the native intelligence that allows an acorn to grow into an oak tree, or a butterfly to emerge from the chrysalis of the cocoon. Whatever we call this…this energy guides us from within.
In yoga we call it prana. It’s the life force that moves in and through and around everything, everyone, everywhere. It’s only task is to bring us home to ourselves. The great yogi, Muktananada, described prana as the powerful force animating everything.
That’s not a simple task, though! Especially when it encounters the gnarly, crusty resistances we have inside born out of disappointments, hurts, betrayals, and despair.
Most of us didn’t get the love, attention, reassurance, and guidance early on in our lives that we needed to become the person we could be.
That doesn’t mean we can’t grow into the person we want to be, becoming who we want to be, and flourishing despite obstacles.
What it does mean is we need to learn how to navigate the powerful forces that move rapidly inside us while also integrating the messages and events of the world around us.
This is not easy; in fact it can bring up tremendous fear and anxiety, shut us down, cutting us from the signals that our heart, and our inner wisdom, is pushing us to see.
Shutting down shuts down our inner compass, the guidance that continues to push, prod, and urge us from within, compelling us to reach for more to become more fully ourselves…a fully expressed presence.
We all have different strategies of dealing with the pain of life: whether it’s reducing our anxiety or mitigating depression or dealing with humiliation, betrayal, and disappointment.
Certainly it’s hard to fathom that the root of our suffering holds something more wonderful behind the protective barrier. We’ve lived so long behind the corrosive rust that seals our hearts shut.
Yet, isn’t it true that we still long for love, to be loved, to love others, to belong, to feel the freedom of expression, to be without inhibition?
Becoming solid, secure, and steady inside is to gradually, over time, come to know the equanimity that glows behind all the fears, blocks, and resistances we have.
I see this all the time in the Safely Embodied Learning Community as people trust their true nature, disentangling themselves from the old patterns that have caught them in the past.
Deep inside we know what we long for, hope for, wish. Of course, we’ve tried to squelch that knowing – but it’s still there.
This longing, shut down by our inner conflict, can literally bring us to our knees.
But it’s still there, waiting throughout our lifetime for us to listen, attend, attune and allow it to gently emerge.
Last week I talked with Pat whose life had completely fallen apart. He couldn’t keep it together anymore despite having reached the pinnacle of his field. He went from immaculate to unable to move from bed, completely catatonic.
He felt crippled in something he could barely describe.
He’d been holding on for so long that when “it” happened he just completely let go.
This happens to so many.
It’s also something we all fear. We terrify ourselves that we’ll be completely alone and isolated, homeless, devastated.
What we need is a roadmap, something that helps us move through life’s landmines one breath at a time.
The Transformational Model I’ve developed is that roadmap. That roadmap helped Pat navigate this distressing life. It gave him a wedge into the collapse so he could pry his fingers open, letting his life change, surrendering the strategies of striving that had always kept him “safe” before.
It’s a “terrible” journey of trust, where all the demons of our fears come forward, threatening us.
If we can, and we generally need others around us, reminding us that when we’re falling apart we come together in a new way.
Whew. That’s the hard part. Really? Trust that this chaotic upheaval we’re in is actually the door to transformation?
Under the terror and confusion there’s the yearning for more.
Breaking out of the old pattern, the conflicts of the past, requires us to develop courage in the face of the unknown.
Just because we didn’t get what we wanted back then doesn’t mean we won’t find our way to something new. The scars on our heart resulted from packaging up the pain, sweeping it under the rug…and that fed the old patterns.
Some of us never dealt with that.
Yet, here’s the truth of transformation. Your heart has a different need from pure survival. It needs for you to attune to the longing that’s there, to not leave yourself behind, to not abandon yourself.
Your heart is the pulse point of your life. It’s your guidance.
“Follow your bliss!” Joseph Campbell’s iconic words ring in our ears even as our protector parts urge us not to trust possibility, advocating that good things only are for other people – -not us.
What does it take for you to let go of the old patterns?
The old fears? Worries? Beliefs? The relationships that no longer work?
How do you develop the trust in love, the pure, sweet goodness of life?
Back in the 80s, as I was teaching about trust and surrender in an ashram, I started developing various practices to help us all take tiny steps to let go of the unhelpful familiar, so we could enter into the unknown of life.
For example, think of an ice cube melting in your hand…. What happens?
Your hand starts getting too cold, and you want to pull away, right?
Whether you stay with the experience or put the ice away, the ice continues to melt, moving, flowing, around the resistance.
While the tendency to pull back is happening, the ice melts, and water flows around you.
What if that’s all that it’s about?
Moving, flowing around resistance, instead of reacting to it or running from it.
Perhaps that’s the basic element of trust—of being with something.
Moving, flowing without resistance or around any resistance.
This is the power of trusting prana to guide us through the rocks, hurdles, and barriers of the samskaras (life pains) of life. (Of course, I hope it goes without saying that there are situations and life circumstances where it is imperative to stop something, to not yield, but to instead protest vigorously, and push against.)
How does this discussion about trust and surrender help you in your life?
What do you know so deep in your heart? What have you already learned from the wisdom of life emerging from within?