• Dom Catto

Surrender and Acceptance: The ultimate lesson in Yoga

This weekend marks my 16th week of pregnancy and to be quite honest, it’s been a nightmare. The first couple of weeks were okay although I was a bit tired and light-headed, but once this little thing was well and truly settled in, the hormones hit and have not let up for a second. I am continuously nauseous, utterly exhausted, have constant headaches and migraines and am super emotional and frustrated. Every morning I wake up feeling like I polished off two bottles of really cheap and nasty wine. It’s been rough, and I have tried EVERYTHING to relieve the symptoms and feel better but nothing has helped. This week I had a beautiful and powerful realisation that is the most important lesson of Yoga.

Surrender and acceptance.

This is what my pregnancy is right now. It may change soon, it may not but it’s not going to be like this forever. It is what it is right now and that’s okay. This amazing lesson has completely changed my point of view and made these symptoms a lot easier to handle. Not that the discomfort has gone away but the act of acceptance and surrender makes it feel bearable and makes me understand that I can handle this right now. Nothing is actually “wrong” and moving through this moment has become a lot easier understanding this lesson.

Surrender and acceptance is the most important lesson in Yoga. We all know of the 8-limbed path to enlightenment but have you heard of the ONE-STEP PATH? It's the one thing you can do to reach enlightenment, samadhi, contentment, bliss, happiness in this moment right now. This one-step path is absolute SURRENDER. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra II.45 says samādhi-siddhir Īśvara-praṇidhānāt which translated means: “Perfect samadhi comes to one who surrenders to God.” When we talk about God with reference to Yoga, it is by no means a specific or religious God. It is whatever God you believe in, it is totally inclusive of whichever God you believe in and connect with. In this sense, none is right, none is wrong, it is purely your perception and belief of what God is to you. If you believe there is no God, think of it as the power of unconditional Love, the force which moves the universe as well as each individual being.

If you can surrender and accept where you are at in each moment there can only be peace. If you can understand and accept that you are exactly where you should be and need to be right now, you can surrender to the moment, put all your concerns, narratives and labels to the side and see the situation and moment for what it truly is. You can see the lessons you need to learn therein. If we can let go of our personalities, our attachments and aversions, our opinions, the truths and lies we tell ourselves daily, if we can let go of everything that binds us and bogs us down, then there is happiness. Then there is contentment. Then there is enlightenment. If we can surrender everything we are and everything we believe with trust and acceptance, that is where samadhi is, the whole point of practising Yoga. With the acceptance of a situation comes the surrender. With acceptance comes ease and understanding. With acceptance comes a shift in perspective, which, as my teacher Sharonji says, is a 'little bit of magic'. I can 100% attest to that this week. The acceptance of these awful pregnancy symptoms and the surrender to it has changed my perspective of my situation and made it far more bearable.

In our asana practise the pose most of us look forward to the most is our Savasana, our conscious relaxation at the end of the class. Savasana in English is translated as “corpse pose”. The greatest moment of surrender in our lives is that moment of death. It is said that the moment you die you reach enlightenment and rejoin ultimate source energy again. So, we practice this in our asana class to help to prepare us for that final moment of surrender. This practice is so powerful and so important because if we continually practice how to die every time we do an asana class when the time actually comes for us to take our last breath we can recognise the moment and walk contentedly towards it without fear. We can surrender to this next chapter with grace and acceptance. This is why we practice Savasana at the end of every class. That’s also why Savasana is known as the most difficult pose. It’s this element of surrendering absolutely that we humans find so difficult. We find accepting things and others as they are so difficult that we seem to want to constantly change or control the situation or the other which causes unnecessary suffering for all and adds to our ignorance. This is the opposite intention of Yoga. Yoga is union with the divine, to universal energy, to unconditional Love, so when we surrender to this and accept that THAT is who we truly are, there is no more suffering, misunderstanding or ignorance. When we surrender to and accept that we are divinity, unconditional Love, that we are God, all that other human “stuff” doesn’t worry us anymore and allows us to be contented and happy in the present moment no matter what is going on around us.

When I talk of acceptance and surrender, I don’t mean to blindingly and unconsciously go with whatever is happening. I’m saying accept things as they are right now but if there is an opportunity to help change a situation for the better (not just in your opinion but for the good of all) of course do that thing. Keep learning and working and growing to improve the lives of all beings. If you can change a situation or something in yourself for the better, definitely do that. If you can’t change a situation or a person, such as my pregnancy symptoms, then accept it as it is to reduce your own suffering and the suffering of others (my poor husband must be so sick of my complaining).

The one-step path to enlightenment of acceptance and surrender it a powerful and necessary lesson for us to learn on this Yogic path. It is the direct route to the goal of Yoga, to samadhi, to ultimate happiness and contentment. If you find yourself in a frustrating situation this week that you cannot change or control, I encourage you to try to accept it and surrender to it. See if doing that brings you some peace and contentment. If you’d like to explore this more deeply join our Self-Love Circle on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 5 pm.

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