The Inevitable Surrender
The night before last I couldn’t sleep, nor have I been able to sleep more than three to five hours a night for weeks. Meditation usually cures insomnia but whatever hormonally has been happening with me since I was pregnant has made me an anomaly. For three and a half hours, I tried pranayama, meditating, body scanning, counting backwards, every time I started to feel sleep coming on, I’d get all excited and it would wake me up.
At five forty-five AM, just as I could feel myself finally drifting off, my alarm started beeping to get me up for my zoom yoga session with my friend in India. I got up, put on my yoga top and pants (without underwear because when you don’t sleep, things don’t get done including laundry), wrenched my eyes open to struggle with my contacts for fifteen minutes, went outside to do a sun salutation to the dark horizon (not even the sun wanted to get up yet), made myself a cup of hot water, then dragged myself to my mat in the garage. I turned on my phone to see if he had texted yet and there was a message from an hour before, his motorcycle had broken down and he wasn’t coming.
At that moment, there was little else to do but cry, so I did. A kind of choked, repressed cry because to make any noise would mean my kids would wake up. All the things I’ve been struggling with and resisting against, I could feel myself just letting go. I had hit a surrender point. It was just me and the moment. I set my expectations for the day down to zero. After getting the kids to school, I made myself an egg and cheese bagel sandwich because that’s what I felt like and just sat until 11 o’clock. I simply gazed at the autumn light coming through the window, bouncing off the kids’ breakfast dishes I’d yet to clean up.
It’s okay to surrender sometimes. In fact, it’s crucial. Some call it breaking down, but really, it's breaking open. All the years of meditation have not prevented these humble, human moments–they've just made me realize their value.
There is a Sanskrit word, “nama,” that usually is translated as “to bow down,” but this word also means, “to surrender with devotion.” To surrender with devotion is different than surrendering to an enemy, white flag raised. It means to let go of our insistence on controlling outcomes. Letting go of the resistance to allowing life to unfold and being open to what comes. Letting go of what our small self is interested in to make way for what our Big Self has in store.
The reason the word for “bowing” and “surrender with devotion” is the same is because, back in the day, when someone would come near an enlightened master, the event horizon around that person was so close to the Absolute, they would transcend and their head and body would naturally go down. Something similar happens when we meditate, to go within is to let go of everything, even sometimes you can let go of who you are, in surrender to the field of Being. In this state, we practice surrendering so when we come out of meditation, we’re able to better get out of our own way.
At some point, we all get there. If we don’t surrender with devotion ourselves and let go of all the little, unimportant things, life will find a way of bringing us to our knees. Whatever way you get there, if you’re in a moment of surrender, the trick is to not resist. It’s a good thing, it’s transformative. It may be raw but in that moment all else falls away. All you can do is be. And that’s the point.
Surrendering to the moment