I used to be a skeptic.
In the beginning, I didn’t understand or know how to meditate at all.
Was it merely closing your eyes, counting your breath, and then going about your day again? What was it supposed to do? Am I even doing it right, with all of these thoughts entering my mind? Before long, ironically, this actually started to stress me out. I began to explore the reasons why someone should meditate, and saw an article by Pick the Brain that mentioned some of its awesome benefits. They include the development of a mindset that makes you worry less about the little things, and that hit me hard!
As I discussed my thoughts with my yoga teacher, who I also consider my friend, she never made me think that I was doing anything wrong. Instead, she made me acknowledge all of those thoughts floating around in my head, and asked me to notice their quality.
Are they positive or negative? Acknowledge and let go. Afterwards, I could do something about it. But meditation was a time for me to observe myself without any external factors and without judgement. It was a chance to notice all the things I would often not care about because of the fast pace of life – things like the smell of the air, the wind on my skin, and the texture of my shirt. All of this was simple yet it teaches you how much we take little things for granted.
The concept of surrendering
By nature, I’m a person who likes to plan everything out and be in control. When things start falling out of my grasp, I tend to panic or think that the situation might go wrong. I have a need to be accountable for things and fight for the best possible outcome I can conjure in my mind. As you can imagine, this kind of go-getter attitude doesn’t always result to a happy ending. This is where surrendering has saved me from myself countless times, even before I started to notice it.
It sounds somewhat negative, doesn’t it? In our society, surrender is synonymous to giving up, but it’s not as literal as we might initially think. It doesn’t mean surrendering to a debate with someone else or quitting because you can’t do your tasks anymore. Yoga Journal states that true surrender is never to a person, rather, it’s to life itself. It’s letting go of the worries, the physical hold our problems have on us, and our high expectations in exchange for doing our best effort and trusting in the process of life itself.
The idea is probably something that you’ve heard before in some way, whether it’s through practical advice or a spiritual teaching. Still, the concept may be a hard pill to swallow. At least it was for me. But as soon as I started to notice that I worked better without the worries, I felt more at peace. When I stop worrying about the outcome and purely focus on the work I put in, I enjoy what I’m doing and the imaginary cage surrounding my brain suddenly unlocks. It’s magical and freeing.
As I became more curious about this phenomenon, I stumbled upon lots of studies that proved this was a real thing backed by science. Psychology Today outlined the effects of meditation towards attachments, and shared a nice quote to boot: “The only thing permanent in life is its impermanence.” The paradox was as true and opposing as it can be.
The effects of surrendering
The thing I would like everyone to understand is that we shouldn’t give up. That’s not what surrendering is about. We should still work with continued hard intention towards our goals. But we should stop overthinking about outcomes or obsessing over things that only feed negativity in our thoughts.
Surrendering has made me appreciate the little things in life more. It made me face some tough times with the belief that everything happens for a reason, and everything will all fall into place when the time is right. I won’t always be able to control the outcome, and that’s alright. If anything, this has given me a sense of intrigue and curiosity, that life will be bringing about even more adventures. There will be no shortage of challenges in life, but I will continue to face them until they pass.
When I surrender, it creates space in my mind to think about something more productive. It made me want to open my eyes to things like travel, new relationships, and bold firsts. It reawakened a sense of wonder, and influenced me to try fun things like joining my teacher in massage classes. It’s one thing to get a massage; but learning the techniques and applying them to yourself or a loved one is another experience altogether. Foxy Bingo notes that a bit of silliness is all you need sometimes to be able to let go of all the things in life that weigh you down and ultimately keep you from being happy. I don’t have it all figured out, but after finding balance, it’s something that I will continue to keep practicing.
It took me a long time to appreciate where I am now. It’s not just something that happens overnight. Reading stuff like Do You Yoga’s post on people’s expectations about meditation helped open my eyes to the reality that meditation is a different experience for everyone. You could start and give up a lot of times and just find out one day that it finally got easier. There are days when I feel like I don’t have the mental energy to meditate, but I push through because that’s when I know I need it the most. I know that surrendering has allowed me to be more accepting, a little more carefree, and appreciative of the things around me.