So let’s just dive right into it shall we?
If you’re feeling scattered, out of sorts, or like life is simply just out of frickin’ control right now, what’s is the one (counterintuitive thing) you need to do?
I want you to let go of expectations and outcomes. To release the need to be in control. To find freedom. To block out the noise and listen to what YOU know to be true.*
I know the idea of surrender can feel absolutely absurd and out of reach right now. When we’re faced with uncertainty and anxiety we tend to hold on even tighter to the things that matter.
It can leave us feeling like we’re white-knuckling life.
But this is exactly the time to loosen our grip and surrender. Surrender is what allows us to find our footing amongst a constantly shifting landscape.
*How did your body respond just reading the words release and surrender? Did you relax a bit? Did you exhale? Or did you tense up at the thought of letting go? No judgement or critique, these are all clues for you to get curious about.
We’re deep into this pandemic and yes, we know we’ll get through it eventually. That we’ll look back and realize a ton of shit in retrospect. That there was a healing on personal, collective, and environmental levels. And we’ll weep at all the evidence of the kindness, love, and grace we witnessed when we needed it most.
But right now….we need to find our balance between the extremes and focus on the things that we can ‘control’.
So how do we do that?!
We go within.
To change our outside reality, we need to navigate our inner landscape. To help us find our center. Our grounding. Our feet. And learn how to be truly present and in the moment, no matter what that moment brings us.
Our struggle to adapt this fast fuels our anxiety and the more you can connect with YOURSELF, the one constant in this world, the more you’ll find the peace and reassurance you’ve been craving.
It’s about finding the calm amidst the chaos. Or as I like to visualize it, the stillness beneath the waves. You know that feeling right?! When you dive into the ocean waves and find that calming peace below, where secretly life is still thriving yet is slowed down.
This is how we surrender…
We can’t heal what we don’t acknowledge. Start by recognizing how you’re feeling at this very moment. Acknowledge if it’s hard, if it’s lonely, if it’s scary, if it’s frustrating, if you’re angry. Acknowledge if you’re feeling relieved at the slower pace and eager for the permission to curl up with a good book or a good movie. All feelings are valid and welcome.
These emotions are here to teach you something. Don’t try to fight them or fix them or stuff them down or outrun them. It’s like trying to stuff a beach ball underwater, you can’t keep it beneath the surface for long, even if you put your full weight behind it. Eventually that beach ball (ahem, your emotions) will surface and with such force it can knock you way off balance.
Your emotions are trying to get your attention – so listen to them without judgement (psst…remember how you felt when I asked you to surrender? What was your emotional response?). As well, be super compassionate with yourself, heap kindness upon kindness on yourself….and others. We’re all figuring out this pandemic (individually and collectively) one day at a time. We’re all coping the best way we know how (and that may look vastly different for each person), let that be enough.
Our bodies are always sending us messages, take a moment to be still and get curious. What do you need right now? What actions do you need to take (knowing the action required could be a 180° from what you’re doing, or not doing, right now)? What do you need to let go of or surrender to? What permission might you need to give yourself so you can show up differently in your life? Are you trying to do too much? Saying yes when you need to say no? What’s within your control? (there’s actually quite a bit even though it may not feel like it! For example, how many times you’re checking the news, or how many Mini Eggs you eat in one sitting (it’s not just me trying to ration them out right?!)
Surrender might feel almost impossible right now and I completely understand the instinct to hold on to what you have tightly with both (well-washed) hands. To yearn for things to go back to the way they were. I get it because I definitely still have those instincts too.
But surrender (as scary as it may seem) is here to show you that you don’t have to white-knuckle your way through life. That there is another way. And if we go within and show up consistently to the practices that support us we might find a little more grace and a little more peace as we make our way through this together.
Here’s 4 of my fave tools you can try now.
MEDITATION, MUDRA & MANTRA
As Glennon Doyle says in her book ‘Untamed’ – BE STILL & KNOW
Again, I know it seems counterintuitive. You want me to slow down when I feel like the whole world is on fast forward?
YES. Yes, I do.
You can choose to not get caught up in the storm, the media flurry, the incessant updates. To control that information highway streaming into your phones, computers, and TVs. To set up healthy boundaries, and carve out time for yourself and your inner exploration. And it’s as simple as dialling into the factory-installed system of your breath and your heart.
Steady the heart and mind with deep intentional breaths and be open to the new rhythms and possibilities it brings. Notice how slowing down allows you to vibe higher, to shift perspective, to consider opportunities instead of restriction. Make these breaths a meditative experience for you.
It’s sooo damn easy to shut down your heart and build walls to feel safe. We all do it. But I encourage you to stay vulnerable and keep your heart open with energy and intention.
A mantra I love right now is ‘time does not equal capacity’ or ‘I am ok’.
And it definitely took some time, but I also looove chanting. Because these sanskrit words are foreign to me it helps my mind to focus (and added bonus, allows me to forget whatever else is happening for a while). Try repeating the words “Om Kleem Shreem” (sounds just like it reads and pronunciation doesn’t really matter anyway, it’s the energy and resonance). It translates to “I attract the transformative power of love and joy into my life”. You can use a mantra during meditation. You can use it with a mala or prayer beads. Or you can write it down and stick it on your bathroom mirror (something to read while you’re washing your hands).
A mudra is a specific hand pose to use during meditation, they help to add more meaning to the practice. Vajra Pradama is one of my favourites as it’s the ‘gesture of unshakeable trust’. It helps to cultivate inner strength, build confidence, and restore our faith in something greater (yep, it helps us to surrender). It’s also quite simple to do, simply interlace your fingers with your thumbs pointing upwards and draw your elbows wide to the side.
Use standing poses to ground through the feet. Then find lightness in the heart, supported by breath. It’s thought that if we can’t feel our feet, we’ll fall for anything, so might as well get grounded through your feet!
Tree pose is great for this.
Yoga has always allowed me to connect to the one constant in life – my soul. My definition of soul is WHO YOU ARE, at the deepest, most eternal level. Your essence, your spirit, your intuition, your special alchemy that makes you, well, YOU. Thus, it knows exactly what you need and it’s always there, just waiting for you to get outta your head long enough to hear what it’s whispering.
For years, yoga has been my connection both to my soul and to something bigger than me (whatever you want to call that). Which is why I’m so freakin’ passionate about it.
In yogic philosophy, this concept is taught as Purusha and Prakriti. Purusha is your inner light/knowing – it’s timeless, formless, it never changes and never dies. It’s the soul I just talked about. It’s totally up to you whether you believe your Purusha is connected to something bigger…the idea is that you need to connect to your OWN light.
Prakriti is matter, form – it’s always changing. It’s nature, your mind, thoughts, body, emotions. Suffering happens because we want all these things to stay the same so we do everything we can to try to make sure they don’t change.
Our purpose is to get these two things cohesive and working together like best friends. To trust in our own inner knowing, our inner light to guide us forward no matter what the world throws at us. The realization that our soul is the only constant thing in our lives, that everything else is changing all.the.time. Even the earth below us, although steady, is constantly changing. So the more we can tune into ourselves, to dive beneath the waves of the world and into our own inner landscape, the easier it will be to find the peace and serenity we’re needing and craving.
Yes, it’s counterintuitive…and it lemme tell you #thisshitworks. Try it now, take a minute, take a deep breath, notice the subtle shifts. Then take another minute, another breath, dive a little deeper. Notice the subtle shifts.
This is WHY WE PRACTICE – it’s cumulative. It builds and strengthens the more we do it. So try to no abandon your practice, keep it up.
CONNECT WITH NATURE
If you can’t go outside, get your hands in the dirt of your houseplants. I repotted some out on my balcony this weekend and it felt great! If you can get out, get your feet in the grass, or simply walk around barefoot in your house. Roll out your yoga mat or a blanket and lay on the ground and sense the support of mother nature’s earth beneath you.
I’d also encourage you to name the meaningful moments you’ve already experienced today like feeling the sunshine streaming through your window in the morning. Or hearing the birds chirping outside. Or the warmth of the coffee in your mug. One thing this pandemic has taught us is how these ordinary moments become extraordinary now that we’ve had time to slow down and appreciate them fully. We’re becoming more mindful which is a practice of going within on its own.
LOOK FOR THE BRIGHT SPOTS
It’s easy to get caught up in what we don’t have right now. And you could see this scarcity mindset on the shelves of your nearest grocery store. But having enough baked beans to weather the apocalypse sitting in your cupboard is a constant reminder of how NOT normal everything is right now.
Shift your perspective and look for the bright spots. Look at how this pandemic has brought out our creativity and humour. Look at all the ways we’re showing up for each other despite being apart.
What opportunities can you see that weren’t there before? Where can you find space for gratitude in your day?
Gratitude, possibility, wonder and creativity all fuel our hope and help us relax into a state of sweet surrender.