In Yoga Teacher Training, each of us had to give a Dharma Talk. We were to weave some of the yoga principals into a talk that was personal to us. I chose the theme of “Surrender”. This was my talk….
“Surrender, Clouds, Leave it on the Mat but take it all with you”Niyama (personal Observance)
I chose Isvara pranidhani because the past two years I have been learning to surrender to God. I’m still working on that, as I still want what I want….Complete healing from breast cancer, and forty more years to watch my children grow up.
When I was first diagosed, I was graspng, in a state of panic. Eat organic? Give me all the kale. Do the Gerson therapy? Bring me to the Giving Room for all the juices. Fasting? I wont eat for days if I have to. Exercise? I’ll get a rebounder and do yoga and qi gong, and walk a 5k. I was doing everything…and what I needed most to do was nothing.
Be still and breathe.
The cancer diagnosis was a huge cloud that made it hard for me to see. I went to a meditation class and the teacher explained we are mountains, and everything else is clouds. Notice the cloud, name it for what it is…fear, anxiety, anger, sadness…then let it float away. Just let it be, and be. I prayed and truly learned what “Thy will be done” really means…
Isvara pranidhani-Celebration of the spiritual-“Lay all your actions at the feet of God” It is the contemplation on God “Isvara”, in order to become attuned to God and God’s Will. Ishvara pranidhana focuses not on ego but on the sacred ground of being, it reunites us with our true Self. As Indian yoga master B. K. S. Iyengar states in his Light on the Yoga Sutras, “Through surrender the aspirant’s ego is effaced, and…grace…pours down upon him like a torrential rain.”
Ishvara pranidhana provides a pathway through the obstacles of our ego …the clouds we try desperately to blow away….and it sends us toward our divine nature—grace, peace, unconditional love, clarity, and freedom.
As humans, we carry with us an expectation of something in return for our dedication. I ate the kale, I drank the juice, I did the yoga, I breathed, I forgave…Why do I still have cancer? But it is not for me to know the answer to my why’s, for the act or surrender to the why’s is what will me wise.
Yet I still I want results. So I come to my yoga mat and breathe. I want peace and joy and love. I want to be a better human being. I want to be healed. How many of us can say we would keep returning to the cushion or mat if we hadn’t at least once felt our bodies opening and our hearts responding? We find peace and surrender at our mat, and faith that as we surrender, so shall we be saved.
I believe it is this unshakable faith and devotion that ishvara pranidhana, the final of the five Niyamas, wants us to cultivate. It can be translated as “devoting oneself entirely to the Divine,” and Patanjali mentions it more than any other Yama or Niyama.
The gentle voice in the Yoga Sutras that began with ahimsa, saying—Let go of who you think you are, and become who you truly are—becomes a roar.
We have to surrender from the “I” and return to love.
Because love is all there is.
When we surrender we see through the eyes of love, we start to accept life in its crazy, beautiful entirety, and in doing so we free ourselves up to do what makes our heart sing. We begin to let the divine spark inside us express itself. Life becomes an adventure.
But the challenge is we have to trust the outcome. When we are fully surrendering, we have no expectations.
I am not looking for peace. I am peace.
I am not looking to be made perfect. I am perfect.
I am not looking to be healed. I am healed.
I am not looking to be made whole. I am whole.
I am not looking for love. I am love.
I practice yoga for the love of yoga, not because I want to be a better person or think yoga is necessary. I practice yoga so I can live in the present, and become wholly open to what is, and devoted to love for love’s sake.
It’s difficult to surrender when times are hard, clouds cover you in your mountain, and it becomes so dark. Yet I have learned things in the dark that I could have never learned in the light. Things that saved my life over and over again. There is only one logical conclusion…I need the dark as much as I need the light. Healing is a process, it ebbs and flows, like the phases of the moon. “All in all, the moon is a truer reflection for my soul than the sun that looks the same way every day. “_Barbara Brown Taylor.
So I will continue to dance under the moon in the dark, surrendering to the push and pull on my soul. When you surrender and let go…love flows gently in. I am learning to leave all of my ego and expectations on the mat, and take all of the love I get in return with me when I leave.
May it be so.
I am healed.
In Jesus’s name, amen.