According Merriam-Webster, surrender is defined in a variety of ways:
- to give up completely or agree to forgo especially in favor of another
- to give oneself up into the power of another, especially as a prisoner
- to agree to stop fighting, hiding, resisting, etc., because you know that you will not win or succeed
- to give up after a struggle
- to let go of or relinquish
In our cultural understanding of surrender, we associate it with negative connotations such as wars, defeat and loss. Surrendering is waving a white flag and turning yourself over to the enemy. When we look closely and without judgement, there is a deeper meaning of surrender. My surrender began in a dictionary defined way, I couldn’t keep fighting a losing battle, both at work and at home. I quit my job, I stopped fighting an inevitable break-up and I gave myself up to an unknown and uncertain reality. I surrendered to the reality that the way I was living my life was no longer working.
When you surrender, you must let go of everything. Your desires, your control, your expectations, your fears, your thoughts, your worries, your perception of who you are. It is simply letting whatever happens, happen. Surrender requires trust. Surrendering requires you to trust yourself; that you’ll find your way out of whatever madness, chaos or black hole you’ve found yourself in. By surrendering to my pain, I was able to heal the wounds from my years of battle. My real life surrender shifted my entire yoga practice. There was a new found fluidity to my vinyasa flows, a lightness to my body in balancing poses, and a steadiness in my breathe. When you are able to free yourself of these limiting beliefs, there is a sense of expansiveness, strength and peace that comes with surrender. The act of surrender broke down barriers between my mind & body and my life on & off the mat.
In all my years of practicing yoga, I have never been able to fully access Shirsasana — headstand. Sometimes I avoided it, sometimes I tried too hard and felt a strain in my neck, sometimes I blamed teachers for not being able to explain how to do it properly, sometimes I thought I wasn’t strong enough to do it. After months of practicing the art of surrender, I positioned myself for a headstand and with the slightest effort, my body simply went upside down. Yoga requires complete trust & surrender in order to seek the wisdom within ourselves. This moment showed me the beauty in surrendering — to let go, to not know, to not control, to not think, and to simply trust myself.