Ishvara pranidhana, or surrender, presupposes that we are part of something larger – call it God, spiritual energy, or life. It is believed this force is greater than us and wants us to thrive. If you think of this “energy” as nature, it’s easy to see this is true. In other words, there is a life force within that moves us, just as it does the birds, bees and the trees. Ultimately, this guideline invites us to surrender our egos, open our hearts and accept the higher purpose of our being.
The felt sense of surrender is fluid and fully present. We experience it as being “in the flow” or “in the zone.” It’s within us during moments of awe, watching a sunset, hiking a trail, or holding a baby. Time disappears and we disappear with it. Our thoughts and actions line up in such a way we become one with the experience. This is the rhythm of surrender. And those wise old yogis tell us we can live this way all the time. We just need to get out of our own way.
The Power of Nondoing
There is a pose in yoga called shavasana that is a good practice for surrender. We are asked to just lie there, releasing any tension in our bodies, letting go of effort, and trusting that the breath will breathe us and the body will renew itself. If that sounds easy, it’s not. The practice of shavasana is one of the most important we can do as it teaches us the power of letting go.
Life knows what to do better than we do. Our task is to let go and receive each moment with an open heart. If we are aware of what is in front of us, we get clues into our development and direction. Additionally, if we’ve been practicing the other nine guidelines, we’re learning to find our compassion and courage, our boldness and contentment, and the knowledge of how we get in the way.
As we are able to let go of what we can’t change, we are able to grow more and more into our unique gifts. There is something that is ours to do, whether big or small. Finding our purpose is our contribution to the whole of humanity. As we quiet the mind and discern where our path lies, we begin to get a sense of just what that purpose is. This is the magic of surrender. It asks that we be strong enough to engage each moment with integrity and at the same time be soft enough to flow with the current of life.
Surrender is ultimately a stance of devotion that takes place in the heart and permeates all of our actions. In its deepest sense, Ishvara Pranidhana is the surrender of the ego to a higher purpose. As the ego stops working so hard to get its own way, energy is freed for other things. Life begins to take on an ease and rhythm. As the ego stops fighting to be number one, life begins to nourish and feed us in amazing ways. As we grow ourselves into the fullness of what this jewel has to teach us, we begin to understand that we are part of something larger.
Beams of gratitude to Deborah Adele for her wisdom and inspiration.