I’ve been pleased with my recent calm–I’m waiting to hear whether I’ll be offered my dream service job, and in the meantime there is nothing to do but make the most of the present, even though I am also anxious to plan for the future.
Really, there’s nothing like not knowing where you’ll live in a month to keep you in the here and now. And I’ve been doing well, taking things one day at a time and all that. I find comfort in knowing I have put forth my best efforts, and that I no longer have control over the outcome.
Yet still, I have struggled to truly surrender. It’s hard not to want one thing or another, to fully release my will and allow the universe/god/fate/hiring managers to do their things.
Today, though, I took a yoga class that helped. I’d been to the studio once before, for a workshop on teaching beginners, just after completing my 200-hour certification. I didn’t experience a class then, but I left impressed with the quality of instruction–so impressed that I felt insecure about my own training. (Fortunately a real-time blog post helped me regain my self-confidence, and I’ve since learned a fair bit of Sanskrit.)
So when I spotted a one-month special for the studio on a group coupon website, I knew it was way worth the money. And since my current thirty-days-of-fancy-yoga-on-the-cheap is about to expire, the time was right for me to start somewhere different.
Lucky me, my teacher was the same thoroughly competent woman who led the workshop I took, and even luckier me, today was her last class before she leaves for maternity leave. Which means if I had cashed in my coupon even a day later, I would not have had the pleasure of her instruction. Instruction that, luckiest me, exactly matched my own mindset and intention of acceptance and surrender.
We started on our backs and focused on our breath, pairing inhales with the (mental) Sanskrit sound of “sa,” for inspiration, and linking exhales with the thought of “hum,” for transformation. She remarked upon summer’s shift to fall, the constancy of transition, and the futility of resisting change.
As we moved into a solid but gentle sequence of breath-based postures with frequent sa-hum reminders, I became aware of subtle sensations I don’t always feel–energy moving up and down my spine, for example–and by the time we got to the restorative period of class, I trusted the teacher’s every directive. Even when she asked us to use props.
I don’t love props. I’m not against the occasional block or strap, but in general I like to think my body is all I need for good asana. So I’d been skeptical when I arrived to find a veritable mountain of props neatly stacked for each student’s use: a large bolster pillow, a small bolster pillow, two blocks, a blanket, a strap, and an eye pillow. Seriously? What were we going to do with all that?
Learn to let go, as it turned out.
After showing us how to construct a piece of soft furniture out of a block and two bolster pillows with a blanket base, the teacher guided us into a child’s pose the likes of which I had never before experienced.
For one thing, child’s pose is already one of the most relaxed poses there is. You’re not engaging any muscles, and you’re supposed to let the earth support you entirely as you release all tension. So bolster the earth with bolster pillows, and you’ve paved the way for some serious surrender.
I was shocked by how instantly safe and protected I felt once I’d settled into position. It felt like I was curled up on my side and swaddled in a down comforter, except I was neither curled up nor swaddled in anything–just supremely supported.
As I allowed my body to cuddle into the comfort of zero effort, tears leaked from my eyes and I cherished the bewildering but welcome sense of security. And the teacher talked.
Transformation is indeed constant, she affirmed, but transition is easier when you can find the flow of life and then go with it. Finding the flow requires surrender, however, and surrender requires faith. And it is hard to have faith without stability.
I thought about her words as I listened and breathed. I haven’t felt very stable lately. My life is about to change a lot or not very much, or maybe more than I can imagine. This summer’s had its ups and downs, and right now I can’t count on my career prospects or even my living situation.
But I can depend on my breath. I can have faith in its ceaseless flow of inspiration and transformation, sa, hum. And so I can always find the internal stability I need in order to accept uncertainty and change.
The teacher later said relaxing the way we did allows our back bodies to release, better enabling our intuition to give us answers.
I’m not sure about that since the answer I’m waiting for is decidedly external, but I do know I’ve found a renewed sense of strength in surrender, and for that I am sweetly grateful.