10 November 2015
Always say “yes” to the present moment. What could be more futile, more insane, than to create inner resistance to what already is? what could be more insane than to oppose life itself, which is now and always now? Surrender to what is. Say “yes” to life — and see how life suddenly starts working for you rather than against you. ~Eckhart Tolle
It’s been raining here in Northern California. Enough to puddle on the streets, wet the leaves into the earth, and drift snow onto the upper Sierras. November, my favorite month in one of my favorite seasons because it includes a celebration of family and gratitude, has started off with a lovely reason to be grateful.
I believe gratitude is a powerful practice that enriches life satisfaction. So, I’ve been exploring a stumbling block I’ve carried around for years that’s hindered my ability to be grateful. Without realizing it, completely off-handedly, I’ve shunned gratitude in the way I’ve wanted the world, wanted myself, to be different.
Years ago, I had a yoga teacher who connected affirmations to yoga poses. I hadn’t thought of her for a long time, but this year I began applying her concept in my morning sun salutations. As I move into each consecutive pose, I bring to mind an intention that I’ve aligned with that pose. Two of these have become particularly resonant lately. Both of the poses are variations on bending over, fingers to toes.
In the first pose, I bend my knees as much as I need to in order to lay my chest on my thighs, to have my legs support the weight of my torso, so my back can relax completely with my head hanging over my knees, loose and free. It’s not a pretty pose. It’s about letting go in each vertebrae of my spine that I can. The intention I’ve connected to this pose is to surrender to all that is.
In that moment, I acknowledge that there’s no winning the constant, covert fight against the things I don’t like about what is. In this moment, I relinquish the battle, the pushing away, the denial or defense.
In the resultant peace, I find more space in my heart.
From here, it is easier to accept that life’s ups and downs are natural, that pain and joy are on the same wide and rich spectrum of the human emotional experience.
From here, I can open to meeting the world where it is. To meeting myself where I am. To letting myself be truly grateful. Letting myself deeply love.
In the act of laying down my weaponry, I find an essential ingredient that might waylay additional hostilities.
Later in my series of poses, with my body warmed up and my back eased, I do a more conventional version of the fingers-to-toes pose, and sink down, toward an embrace with the earth. My intention in this pose is to surrender to the goodness of life.
This may sound like taking a step back, like a retreat from the first intention of surrendering to all, but it’s not that.
This is about intentionally welcoming the joy and beauty and kindness that I know are present everywhere. It’s a reminder not to be so busy pushing away, catching up and carrying on that I overlook the wonder of life—the goodness, the miraculous, the stunning quotidian act of sunrise.
Surrendering, I can open wide, explore the moment. Let my mind burst into a bigger awareness that notices the flames of peach and scarlet in the fall leaves, the gentleness in the face of a stranger, the comfort in a cup of tea with a friend.
These intentions, to surrender to what is and the goodness of the world, help me come into a fuller relationship with life. In accepting the world and myself as they are in this moment, I can be more authentic, more creative, more present.
My husband pointed out the lovely symmetry here. When I surrender, I have more space for gratitude. And when I practice gratitude, it’s easier to surrender.