“Sometime’s the storms of life can literally bring us to our knees…We spend our whole lives resisting the idea of surrender; we see it as a weakness, as giving up. Then suddenly we hit a point where we realize that the moment of ‘letting go’ is not when life is over. It is when life really begins.” -Baron Baptiste, Journey Into Power
Surrender. I see this word and I automatically think of my 7-year-old self, having an epic battle with wooden swords and my best friends. As we clank our weapons together and feign injury and victory one of us cries out “Surrender!” To us, that meant “You lose. We win. Give up now!” This concept is engrained in us early on: That surrender means you failed. You lose.
It wasn’t until I reached adulthood that I realized the difference. The difference between giving up and surrender.
We’ve all walked into a yoga class and heard the instructor say “Surrender into your mat.” I can say with great certainty that none of them were saying “Give up on your mat” or “Your mat will win, and you will lose.”
We’re made to believe that surrender is what happens when you fail. But when we come to our yoga mat, our victory is manifested in our surrender. How do we grow if we do not start from the bottom up?
The idea of surrender got me thinking about strength and where it comes from. Strength is often portrayed as something stern, hard and immobile. It is a sturdy being that cannot be shaken. It represents power and the ability to conquer anything.
However, powering through your yoga practice can often leave you feeling unfulfilled and stale.
So where does real strength come from? As I contemplated this question I took a long walk out on the streets of Chicago. Now, anyone who has been to Chicago knows that the roads and the sidewalks have seen better days. When the winter freezes everything over, they put down salt to clear the snow, killing as many plants as they can in the process and ruining all our shoes. Yet as I walked the streets I could see little flowers bursting their way through the concrete. Completely shattering the stone.
It took me a moment to realize what I was seeing. This little flower was delicate, beautiful and fragile. I could reach down and pluck it right from the ground. But it can shatter through concrete. Something I know I couldn’t do. But how?
The flower was growing.
Despite the winter and the salt and all the obstacles in its way, it chose to grow and it shattered the stone in the process.
This is where strength come from.
From growth. We can choose to power through our struggle and engage in a tiring battle that might end in our defeat. Or, we can surrender. Bow to our obstacles. Thank them. And grow stronger.
Surrender is not giving up. It is the acceptance that we need to grow. Our acceptance is a key ingredient in our ability to create profound, positive change in our life. But before we can start growing and changing, we must first accept things for what they are and acknowledge that where we are is exactly where we are supposed to be.
I have realized that strength does not have to be this powerful, static, hard force. Colliding two things of equal force together never got anyone anywhere. Strength can be flexible and soft, like water. A river doesn’t barrel through the boulders in its way. It moves with it obstacles and grows stronger at every bend. Water cannot be bruised or broken. It is generous. and literally goes with the flow.
As we start to face obstacles in our life and on our mat, it is important to remember to surrender to the moment. To do what we can, with what you have, where we are. This is the starting point for growth and growth is the core of our strength. Take challenges as they come and take comfort in the fact that you have the the power to accept, surrender and grow strong.
“…Realize that the moment of letting go is not when life is over. It is when really life begins.”
What about you guys? Have you ever surrendered and grown from the experience?
Also by Alyssa: 5 Ways to Worry Less and Do More in the Present
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Photo: heidiyogi via Instagram