Monday, April 26, 2010

Weekly Reflection (week 16): Surrendering to my Life

How gracefully do I surrendering to my life?

So here is how my mind works: first I was chewing on the question posed by Marisa Haedike in one of her podcasts from her blog Creative Thursday - "Is this the life that I want for myself?" Thinking about it, I was getting stuck on the notion of want and some confusion - in my mind, of course - around the sense of dreams being tied up with desires and grasping at what I don't have and being blind to what is in my life. In the shower I came up with a spin on this question which is: Am I growing the way I want to grow? And from another angle: Am I living the life I have been given?

So I was getting all bogged down over the deeper implications behind dreaming, and notions of desire, attachment, aversion never mind the original question which is asking if I am living my life awake and aware or is my life living me? Driving into work I was listening to a CD sent to me from Kripalu Yoga Teachers Association on chanting and my favorite chant, Om Namah Shivaya came on. Chanting has always been a powerful practice for me. The first time I chanted, it felt just right. As Bhavani, the instructor on the CD explained, for some of us chanting is like a magnet and we are the metal filings that are drawn to it. She also explained how what we chant - usually the names of gods or goddesses (all aspects of one infinite energy) - is to remind us what it is we are committing ourselves to or what it is we are wanting to evoke within ourselves. As someone who has become increasingly forgetful, this resonates with me! I will set an intention at the beginning of my yoga practice and usually that is it - the concept flies away the minute I open my eyes and begin moving. So I need constant reminders in my life.

Om Namah Shivaya roughly translates into "I bow to lord Shiva" or I bow to the constant change that is the nature of life. Bhavani offered a beautiful translation: May I surrender to the reality of my life. She then questions "how gracefully can we do that?"

Okay, so I've travel a bit from the original question that got everything rolling, but maybe not. I keep in touch with my dreams not because I believe my life is lacking in anyway but to keep in touch with how I want to grow as a person. And in order to grow into the person I aspire to be (the person I already am, but need to embrace) I must surrender to what my life is offering me. If dreams are like seeds, then I plant and water those seeds and but the soil that they go into is the circumstances of my life. How that plant will grow depends up my attention and care but it also depends upon elements outside of my control. It is the earth - my world, my responsibilities, my commitments, my family - that provides the nutrients and in my opinion, the magic that will take my dreams beyond the scope of what I am capable of envisioning.

So to commit to a dream seems to require both conscious action and a letting go. Which is ... duh! ... Karma Yoga! Doing my part and letting go of the notion I control the outcome. Rather, receiving the fruits of my efforts as a gift, even when the outcome is vastly different from what I had anticipated. So to open a window onto my dreams, I am not looking to move beyond my life, but to glimpse how I may enrich it and how it already enriches me. To surrender gracefully to my life is not to stop growing, but to see new possibilities for growth.

And rather than consider how gracefully I surrender to my life perhaps I am setting "graceful surrender" as my intention. I commit myself to change and to growth. And I recall this intention each time I chant Om Namah Shivaya. Another translation I just found captures what I have been struggling to understand: "I honor that which I am capable of becoming." The life I aspire to is rooted in the life I am living and both are always in the process of becoming, growing and changing. That is the nature of Shiva's dance. And to borrow from T.S. Eliot "there is only the dance."


  1. Hi Lisa..... what a beautiful thought provoking post. I have been thinking many of the same thoughts, trying to be careful not to let go of wanting what I have, but also to explore what I want to add. I refuse to think of it as "missing", because I feel if it's meant to be present, I will manifest it's arrival. The chant at the end, soooo soothing. Thank You!

  2. You really get a person thinking!
    I have only done a bit of yoga and have never done a chant. I loved the chant you shared!
    Thanks for a very thought provoking post!