Summer is officially over, but it seems to be surrendering slowly. With 80 degree weather in NYC lasting till late September, I had one last chance to go swimming last weekend. Aaah, the water was so refreshing and the waves so delightful to bodysurf along in. And practicing savasana on the warm sand after swimming was so heavenly. I truly felt a deep sense of surrender, one of the most important aspects of practicing yoga.
Of course, September is the time when we once again commemorate the events of 9/11. It's hard to believe that happened 16 years ago this month. Memories fade, but of course for many the wounds have not entirely healed and were reopened again at this time. The Buddha's teachings on love and hate are so important to remember again and again, especially at this time. He taught:
"Hatred is never ended by hatred - but by love alone is hatred healed. This is an ancient truth. Many do not realize that we here must day. For those who remember, quarrels end."
-Siddhartha Gautama (The Buddha)
The events of 9/11 are a reminder to us that no matter how inexplicable some things that happen in life can be, we must always try to surrender to the way things are. Yes it's natural to want devastating occurrences to go away and disappear, but rather than run from them, we must have the courage to try to sit with the difficult energies and move on with best actions possible. Dr. Hiroshi Motoyama said: “The hard shell of the ego cannot be cracked without surrendering to something bigger than itself.” In a sense we have to admit that our egos are large, and our egos want things to be different. But unless we can surrender our egos to something larger, we will suffer more.
This past month, I was faced with a particularly huge workload, and found myself overwhelmed in a few moments. My salvation was my meditation and yoga nidra practices. I found Beth Johnson's comments about meditation particularly comforting. She wrote: In the silence of meditation you can sense the part or parts of yourself that you may be trying to push away or disown. When you surrender and welcome the excluded parts back into the fold, there is a release of energy and your inner strength returns. My meditation practice helped me to sit with all parts of myself, particularly welcoming in the parts that are difficult--my fears, my worries, my doubts, my wishes for things to be different than they are. And in my meditation practice, I also returned to being in touch with my deepest knowings about my highest possibilities and most heart-felt desires. And in practicing yoga nidra, one-by-one each part of my physical body surrendered to the way things are, just as they are. Despite the challenges I faced, and the fears I experience in facing them, over and over again strength returned.
Pema Chodron's words also helped. She said:
"It's helpful to remind yourself that meditation is about opening and relaxing
with whatever arises, without picking and choosing."
Pema Chodron (b. 1936)
American Buddhist teacher
Really when you think about it, life is about opening and relaxing to the way things are, without picking and choosing. In every yoga asana you practice there has to be an opening and relaxing to the way things are. Yes there is effort in practicing yoga postures, but if you can't also relax and surrender too, you will not experience balance. And yes, too, we make intentional efforts in life as we pursue our highest dreams, but there also has to be a surrender and a letting go in order for them to be realized. And I might add something I practiced more often this month--there has to be a putting down of our cell phones and surrendering to the richness of more of the moments in our lives that we miss when we are distracted.
May you continue to strive to extend love to yourself and others more, ...
May you welcome back more parts of yourself that have been heretofore excluded, ...
May you open and relax more, ...
May you surrender to the way things are more, ...
May your ego be cracked more, ...
May you put down your cell phone more, ...
... for the benefit of All Beings everywhere.
Metta with Aloha,