Yogi Assignment: Surrender to God

When every door feels locked and every street is a dead end, where do you go? When you’re stuck with no viable path forward and all options look terrible, what do you do?

Quit. Give up. Concede. Lose. Surrender.

Quitting has often has a tinge of bitterness and competition gone awry. Giving up can leave you with a broken heart, especially if it was something you really wanted. Conceding may appear like martyring yourself and falling on your sword and leave you more broken than before you started. Losing is sometimes a tough pull to swallow that offers little path to healing. But surrender is different.

Surrender has an element of faith. But it all depends into whose hands you are surrendering into. If you place your heart and soul in the hands of another person chances are that sooner or later they will let you down. I’m trying to be negative here. It’s just that people are people. We aren’t perfect. We stumble and we fall and that’s our beauty. We are respect each other, but we cannot really truly turn everything over to one another. We can’t even turn everything over to ourselves. I like to say that we can believe in ourselves but we can’t surrender into ourselves. The only proper place to turn over the grand plan of your life is to the authority of a power bigger and grander than yourself. The only alter that you should lie face down in front is an altar to God.

Surrender is a key concept in yoga philosophy and is usually presented in a paradigm where the yogi is asked to surrender to God. Surrender and devotion to God are presented in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra as Isvara Pranidhana. The ultimate expression of total surrender to God is the state of Vairagya, non-attachment to the fruits of one’s labor. The more invested the yogi is in the outcome, the greater the need to surrender. Take the idea of a yoga pose—the more attached you are to achieving a particular outcome in a particular time the more likely it is that you will sacrifice good technique to get the pose sooner. Chapter seven of the Bhagavad Gita asks Arjuna to surrender all works to me (God). Krishna says “Fix your mind on me. Let your understanding be absorbed in me. Henceforth doubtless you shall reside in me. Surrendering all works to me. Knowing me Krishna to be of all. With a concentrated mind fix your mind on me. Fixing your mind on me you will overcome all obstacles due to my divine grace.”

Quitting, on the other hand, happens when you think you can control the outcome with your actions alone. When the weight of the world is on your shoulders ad you think it’s on you, fear sets in. There is almost a knowingness in your heart that no matter how hard you try you’ll never be able to control it all. Without faith, fear takes over and you quit. If you’re scared of the repercussions or you’re scared of losing something valuable to you, then quitting seems like a good option. And truly sometimes it is. Perhaps the difference between the attitude of quitting and surrender is really about perspective. Faith in God’s plan is the key distinction between the two states of mind. Quitting is surrender without faith that everything is going to be ok. It’s like a leap into darkness rather than a leap into the light.

Surrender doesn’t mean you have to understand everything. In fact, the less you understand and the more frustrated you are about something the more meaningful it is to turn it over in an act of surrender. Sometimes when things are hard for me and my mental darkness starts to encroach, everything in me wants to keep fighting, struggling and forcing things to happen. I don’t like to quit. I’m tenacious to a fault. But when you’ve done everything you can possibly do, when there is nothing more to give, when you’re lying face down in the gutter of your mind, there is only one thing left to do—surrender. Turn it all over and have faith that what is meant to happen will happen and leave it at that.

If you look around at your life and it feels like 1,000 different pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and nothing makes sense, stop trying to solve the puzzle. Let it go. Don’t push. It can be the hardest decision to walk away from something that you were deeply invested in. But there’s a point where more pushing and effort will only make things worse. Albert Einstein says that “we can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” Even Jesus, prescient of the betrayal by Judas, surrenders, saying “yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Immediately after “an angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him” (Luke 22:43). If Jesus Christ himself needed to turn over the personal will to the will of the Father to accomplish his dharma how much more do we need to do the same in order to unlock the magic in our lives?

Surrender with full faith that everything is unfolding according the Divine plan and that Providence is working for you. Depending on how tightly wound the problem or issue is, you may need a miracle. Expect your miracle. Visualize it, ask for it, dream about it. Say the magic words and open yourself up to receive your miracle—I surrender.

This week’s Yogi Assignment is Surrender to God. Whether or not you have a personal relationship with God, see if you can find a place within your heart of unshakable faith, a seed of truth, or a spark of light. Whether through a definite form or just a hint of the Divine, connect in a real tangible way to the flow of goodness under all things. Release your struggles and your most stuck places into this flow and say these words.

1. I surrender.
2. Providence opens every door for me and Grace sustains me.
3. I now wait expectantly for my miracle.

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