Balance and the first steps into Surrender

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Being ‘Balanced’. We work hard to create this state called ‘balance’. This state in which conditions seem to be ‘perfect’: our body is healthy, we are free from sickness or injury, our emotional state is quite close to that ever wanted mid-line, our life seems to be well organized – our house is paid for, we have a ‘steady’ job; things are comfortable. We’re enjoying the ride. We feel like we’re in control. Balance.

This is when we are most eager to step on to our mats, right? Body is doing what we like it to do, we have energy and there isn’t much we worry about.

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And then things change. And we get knocked out of our comfortable seat. Our incredibly intelligent and complicatedly designed body ‘fails’ and gets injured. Our partner tells us he/she isn’t sure about being together anymore. Work is starting to feel like a heavy load; we’re running trying to keep up with the pace of things. And we still have laundry to do.

We’re starting to feel a little lost. Uncomfortable. Scared. We feel resistance. And then the hard work begins. The work to recreate the state of balance we enjoyed so much. External balance, if I may say so. We start walking a little faster, moving a little stronger, working a little harder, our expectations rise. We start pulling and pushing – because we are suddenly out of balance and we were comfortable when everything was going well! Because we felt like we were in control.

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Balance. In control.

With love and compassion, I can say that up until recently, in general, I have been ‘one of those’ – a ‘worker’. Whenever things became uncomfortable, unwanted, difficult or challenging, I would not step back. I would not close my eyes. I would not consider myself as ‘a victim’. Instead, I would start the work. I would take up responsibility. I didn’t consider discomfort as being a problem – I considered it as part of the deal. And with this method, I worked my way trough a lot of challenges. I did the best I could. Sometimes with a lot of effort. Coming out feeling like there wasn’t any more that I could have done. And also coming out feeling very, very tired.

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Control. Effort. Shtira.

There was one thing I missed in this process.

That from a certain point, the hard work I did wasn’t about looking the challenge straight in the eye – instead, it became just another way of not really allowing the discomfort. Another way of labelling things I found difficult as ‘imbalanced’ and ‘unwanted’. Another way of trying to make things ‘right’ again. Yes, I looked at the discomfort. I felt it. And at the same time I was trying to keep or regain control over the things that make me feel that way – I felt like I had to ‘own’ everything, so that it was still me who was in the drivers seat. When really, I do not control the rain. I do not control all the incredibly detailed processes within my body. I do not control the emotional development of another person. I do not control the simultaneous occurrence of all of these things, of being exactly who I am in that point in time – in all my glory and my darkness.

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Take the time to let this word sink in. Control. We do not control whatever is outside of us. And we do not control a lot within our own humble existence. We do not control the way all of this comes together. Instead, it is this false sense of power and control that leads to the fear of losing it, losing that balance. If we realise we didn’t control this perfect state of balance all along, if we realise that the fear of letting go actually comes from the fear of losing a control we didn’t even have in the first place, this amazing sense of relief and relaxation comes. Sometimes slowly, sometimes in a sudden hit. We surrender.

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Surrender.

We surrender to the pain of the injury, to the possibility of losing our partner, to the wetness of the rain. We surrender to the great wisdom that possibly lies deep within this great source of ‘imbalance’ and discomfort.

I came to discover that a part of me associated the beauty and the necessity of surrender with ‘giving in’, ‘quitting’, ‘being a victim’ and ‘not trying to solve’. I felt like I had to do everything within my power, to give all the energy I had to give, to act and make it better. Giving up on something I believed in so much didn’t seem like an option. What I wasn’t doing, was accepting the rain. Looking at the rain. Really feeling it. Giving it space and time. You can believe in sunshine all you want, and you would be right! Because behind that deck of rainy black clouds – the sun is always there. But you still have no control over the rain. You will have to go through the rain first. Surrender to the rain. Surrender.

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Surrender. Ease. Sukham.

Surrender and the energy that we spent trying to change, better and smoothen out things that we do not directly control, turns back in. Surrender and the energy that we spent feeding the fear of what might happen tomorrow, turns back in. Back in to feel. To truly listen. To open up to the wisdom that lies within that discomfort. To feed the real source of change: sincere intentions, clear vision and faith. In this way, power changes into empowerment. Because the only way to change our negative feeling about the rain is not to change the rain, but to start becoming aware of how we think about the rain, why it is that we dislike the rain so much, and if there is perhaps a different way to start looking at it. Now change the word rain for ‘my partner ending the relationship’ or ‘tearing my hamstring’ :).

The feeling of exhaling. Letting go. Relaxation. There is nothing wrong with feeling relaxed, even when things are not the way we prefer them to be.

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Lets be real: if we consider balance as the state described above: a state in which everything feels ‘perfect’ – how often are we really balanced then? I think we all know the answer to this question. The thing with most challenges is; we consider it to be a negative occurrence. And we get taught to avoid the ‘negative’, to promote the ‘positive’. To avoid the sadness, the pain and the grief and to promote the happiness, the laughter and the joy. We either fight it with all our might or we hold and ‘wait’ until it’s over. We do not consider them as a valid part of life. We do not consider stumbling and falling in Sirsasana (headstand) as a valid part of our practice, only a perfectly balanced version of Sirsasana is valid. Looking at it that way, can you imagine how much energy we lose working so hard trying to keep this state of balance, trying to control everything (around us) to keep it this way? And if only this version of balance is a valid part of life, then how much time of our life is actually lost? If only actually holding Sirsasana is a valid part of our practice, what does the word practice really mean?

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Lets keep asking our selves these questions. How about we start letting go of the fear of losing control, control we didn’t have in the first place, and surrender to a current of life that is much bigger than any of us? How about we start considering discomfort, challenge, pain and all those unwanted states as just as valid part of life as happiness, joy and comfort? How about we stop fighting those states and start caring, listening and awakening? How about we start putting the energy into receiving the infinite amount of wisdom there is to find in this discomfort? How about we put the energy into our most positive intentions and visions and let go of the outcome that we do not directly control? How about we put in a little less effort and allow life to carry us with a little more ease?

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Thank you for reading. The light in me honors the light in you.

One comment

  1. Patrick says:

    Inspirerend verhaal, Bente. De rode draad in het verhaal is eigenlijk iets wat ik al eerder heb gezegd in een les: soms bepaal je niet zelf wat je met je leven doet, maar bepaalt het leven wat het met jou doet. Het kenmerkt ons hoe we daarmee omgaan. Yoga kan je er heel goed bij helpen om op de juiste manier met tegenslagen om te gaan, maar dan moet je het inderdaad niet zien als wedstrijd of de perfecte asana willen uitvoeren (zeker niet met mijn stramme ledematen ;-) ). Happy new year alvast!

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