In the Bhagavad Gita, the core text of the Hindu religion there’s a passage of the conversation between Krisha and Arjuna that says, “Self-posessed, resolute act without any thought of results, open to success or failure. This equanimity is yoga.” When we resist surrendering to the the whole of which we are just a part, we become frustrated, myopic and unfulfilled.
I often have to remind my students as well as myself to let go of ‘achieving’ a certain pose and rather embrace the process of yoga — let it unfold in real time not head space. And, we can say this about much more than yoga. Think about work, for example. Sure the sense of accomplishment is great when you’ve completed a big project, but it’s the journey itself that makes the result rewarding.
Surrender to God brings perfection in samadhi — Yoga Sutras
When you go on a peaceful hike through the woods, it’s the hike itself that is so awesome, not the end. And, if you love roller coasters, it’s the swooping up and down, and speeding around the curves of the tracks that rock your world, not stepping off the ride.
“…if we concentrate more on the quality of our steps along the way than on the goal itself, then we also avoid being disappointed if we perhaps cannot attain the exact goal that we had set for ourselves. Paying more attention to the spirit in which we act and looking less to the results our actions may bring us – this is the meaning of isvarapranidhana.” ~ TKV Desikachar, Heart of Yoga
As a teacher, I try not to be too predictable in my teachings because I don’t want my students’ practice to become rote. As a yogi, I try to relish in the poses between the poses. Instead of seeing the dive into a forward fold as a means to an end, I just try to enjoy the whole ride down. I learned this from brilliant yoga teachers before me whose words resonate and remind me to ‘let go’ with each Trikonasana (triangle pose) or Kapotasana (pigeon pose). This is not to say that we shouldn’t bring intention to our actions, but the intention should be within the consciousness of the doing — the act itself.
The nature of the universe is such that the ends can never justify the means. On the contrary, the means always determine the end. — Aldous Huxley
Here’s an exercise in surrender to try:
- Come seated in a comfortable position and breathe
- Notice the breath flowing in and out
- Embrace the spaces between the breath and settle in
- Bring your hands to your heart in prayer position
- Set the intention to surrender to the moment, to let go of result
- Press your hands away from you and open them
- Release your intention into the universe; relinquish control and surrender
Enjoy each one of your actions and journeys throughout your day, without concern with where you’ll end up.
- Your Charmed Yogi
- Effort vs. surrender: Yoga’s tug of war
- Please return your seat to its upright soulful position
- Expectation = Disappointment