For years I wondered what it really meant to “surrender one’s will.” On a superficial level, I understood I was not able to control my external environment. Although I might be able to influence or even manipulate it, the only thing I truly controlled was how I reacted to my environment.
Learning to manage my thoughts, emotions and behaviors with integrity was a major practice in itself, and eventually led me to yoga where I learned self-management* was one of three levels of letting go –
Letting go of identifying with the Thinker/Feeler*
Letting go of Tension
Letting go of Desire and Ambition
If we continue to believe we are our thoughts and feelings, we will continue to be controlled by them and they will continue to drive our behavior. In order to be the master of what we think, feel and do in the world, it is vital to recognize we are our consciousness (awareness) not our mind and body. The latter two are vehicles through which we express ourselves in this world. Our consciousness rests deeper within and watches or witnesses the superficial activity of thinking and feeling. To test this, close your eyes and allow your attention to rest in the back of your brain. See the front of your brain as a movie screen across which your thoughts can travel. You might want to set a timer for five minutes while you keep your attention (consciousness) on observing the thoughts that show up. All kinds of ‘stuff’ will appear. Don’t focus your attention on any particular thought—just keep watching as thoughts come and go. When the five minutes have passed, open your eyes and ask yourself, “Am I the Thinker or the Watcher?”
Because a very common holding pattern for humans is to internalize emotion (store in the body) rather than express outwardly, we house a great deal of tension within. In order to let go of this compacted inner tension and tightness, we need to create an intimate relationship with our body. We do this by tuning in—through meditation, yoga and other body awareness practices—to the sensations in our muscles, bones, organs and flesh. With practice we come to detect early warning signs of distress, which we can respond to before damage or disease takes over. An equally wondrous benefit is we tap into our intuition, our connective thread to all forms of consciousness, which provides us with glimpses of possibility and from which we innovate. It is truly this gift that enables me to “see what is around the corner” and create what I need in response. I refer to this as the co-creative process—existing between us and Life—available to all.
In my last blog, I wrote about “doing the work of entering the space behind the face.” The “work” is to let go. Letting go of one’s tension begins the body-mind-spirit healing process. Letting go of your mask sets the stage for new learning and growth. Here is where we do the work of practicing what we know to be true (in my case: peace, love and joy), no matter what or who confronts us differently. Letting go of your desires and ambitions solidifies your ability to simultaneously survive and self-actualize. Concretely put, our recognition and acceptance of Life’s support inverts our creative process from ‘Acting first, then Receiving’ to ‘Receiving first, then Acting.’ Acting first means we are only working with our own desires and ambitions, which can be limited in scope as well as wisdom. In opening ourselves to the wisdom of all consciousness by staying present in the now, we access the ‘cosmic Google’ from which all truths surface. Hence, the statement “all answers lie within you.” When we know our truth, we act from certainty and a sense of security. In short form, here is the formula:
Present moment awareness = survival + self-actualization (certainty)
This formula brings us to a place of integration where the inner tension between opposing forces (either judgment/or love) fuses into unity (compassion). In my own transformation experience, integration produces a poem symbolizing my journey from the unknown to the known as revealed below.
A mystery unfolds within me.
One I cannot yet see or touch in usual ways.
Like a new born experiencing Life’s wonder
without language, only my senses alert me.
Tho’ I would sound my presence in the world
with words, sound escapes me.
These sensations fill me with reasons why.
I cling to the solidity of earthly wonders
nudged into communion with ancient wisdom.
Gladly, I pass on the banner of “knowing it all,”
and open my senses to receive
each moment, each season’s wisdom.
Breathing space . . . ahhh . . .
freedom from desire and ambition.
22 April 2011
In a working world that promotes desire and ambition, do you allow yourself to be led by Life’s inspiration? What “experiencing” enables you to Receive first, then Act?