There is an old adage which states, "If you love something, let it go. If it comes back, it's yours forever. If it doesn't, then it was never meant to be."
There is no truer definition of surrender than freely letting something go forever with no attachment to it (whatever “it” is) coming back— while still being open to the miracle that it might. Surrender is not giving up; it’s releasing control or attachment to what you want, fully believing there is a higher, greater purpose for whatever happens. This process can be considered a walk in faith!
As strange and trite as it might sound, my recent stay in “Facebook jail” truly taught me valuable life coaching lessons in the art of surrender. As shared in a previous blog, Facebook disabled my personal account with no explanation other than to say that my account had been deemed a security risk and that no further explanation could (or would) be given. Now I realize that it is truly a “first-world problem” to have a Facebook account disabled. You might be thinking, “Come on, KC, there are much more important things to think about, let alone spend precious time praying about!” This is true, and the experience has been humbling and illuminating. In fact, as a result of being in “Facebook jail,” I truly have experienced a walk in faith. The following are the life coaching steps I took and will continue to take in the future:
Faithfully acknowledge what is causing pain!
Yogic wisdom states, “Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.” When something–anything –causes us to suffer, it is up to us to decide how we will choose to respond.
In his best-selling book A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle tells the story of a duck who gets into an intense altercation with another duck. (Can’t you just imagine me quacking at Facebook’s billionaire CEO Mark Zuckerberg!) The ducks fight adamantly, picking and pecking at one another both verbally, physically, and spiritually for a few seconds and then separate. As the ducks part, each makes a great show of shaking their feathers and wings.
Now, here’s the good part: in an instant, all their anger and intensity is released. The episode ends and all goes back to normal— no more pain, no more suffering.
While I would like to think that I have a mind more conscious than a duck, being a duck doesn’t sound so bad considering their ability to deal with a conflict and then let go, with no hard feelings and residual resentment. This is the ultimate practice of yoga off the mat! The intention must be to learn to release all attachments to thoughts and emotions keeping us stuck in pain– whether physical, emotional, or spiritual. I had to work to release all of the thoughts I had about my experience and the stories I was making up about it— including how unfair it was for Mr. Zuckerberg to personally seek me out and disable MY precious personal account. My mind’s chatter led to hours and days of suffering! Clearly, the damage we do to ourselves in our minds often far exceeds that of the actual events.
Faithfully–meaning out of habit and discipline—acknowledge the feeling of suffering and choose another way.
Ask for divine guidance and serenity.
The Serenity Prayer is the common name for the words written by a theologian named Reinhold Niebuhr in 1951. The prayer has appeared in many versions, although usually in an abbreviated form. Consider the words as written in their entirety:
God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things which should be changed,
And the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.
Living one day at a time, Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as the Master did, This sinful world as it is, Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right, If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life, And supremely happy with You forever in the next. -Amen
The key is to take a moment during the insanity and “un-clarity” to pause and seek guidance and serenity. Determine what you can change and what you cannot change! It is a time to ASK for wisdom and guidance!
Invite the power of surrender to embody you.
The power to surrender starts with our breath, then our body, followed by our mind! Nobel Prize winner for cell physiology, Dr. Otto Heinrich Warburg, reports well over 80% of the population is breathing wrong—shallow and inefficient—producing toxic waste products and further promoting dysfunction on a cellular level. Many studies link stress and suffering to poor breathing habits, while most modern chronic health conditions can be traced back to one single common source of all problems—insufficient cell oxygenation or cell hypoxia—resulting in astounding amounts of people suffering each year:
- 17 million people a year will die from cardiovascular diseases
15 people million per year will die from cancer
900 million people a year develop asthma or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
420 million people will be diagnosed with diabetes
30% of chronically ill people will have insomnia, or the inability to sleep
And, almost 1 million suicides per year are linked to mental suffering, the inability to surrender their thoughts
Interestingly enough, there is a new form of breath training that has been developed known as NirvanaFitness®. It a system designed to teach you how to breathe correctly, leading you to a slower and deeper daily breathing pattern (diaphragmatic breath with prolonged exhalation) that helps replace shallow and stressful "default” breathing. NirvanaFitness®, as taught by Will Zecco at Spirit of Yoga, progressively slows down breathing rhythm, going from twelve breaths per minute to only four breaths per minute.
Ultimately, breathing is the only bodily rhythm we are able to consciously control. As we surrender to our breath consciously, we surrender suffering and unconsciousness. Our conscious breath connects our body with our higher, more intelligent Divine Self.
Trust the process of surrender.
Brené Brown, a brilliant and well-renowned researcher at the University of Houston Graduate School of Social Work and author of her newest bestselling book, Rising Strong, affirms this: “When we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our stories, we get to write a brave new ending. “
Editing her wisdom, we could say: When we acknowledge the stories that we are stuck in and which are causing us pain, we get to write a brave new ending.
It is a process! Brené Brown’s Rising Strong process includes:
The Reckoning: walking into our story
The Rumble: owning our story
The Revolution: writing a new ending and changing how we engage with the world
Humor me, if you will:
The Reckoning: Facebook un-sanctimoniously took down my Facebook account. I felt out of control, discriminated against, frustrated, helpless, and indignant— on and on the story went.
The Rumble: So, what is it really that is causing you so much angst, pain, and suffering over losing a social media account? There was so much to unpack here… Let’s just say I dwelled in my story for way too long!
The Revolution: I’m going to surrender to the process, go get a new phone, use a different email address, and just start over. Get over it already!
The Results: The morning after I got a new phone number, a new email, and yet another notification that I would not be getting my Facebook account back, my original personal Facebook account miraculously reappeared! Of course I was thrilled, yet more than anything in awe of the process of surrender.
Honor the experience as a powerful spiritual lesson.
Especially note the words in the original unedited version of the Serenity Prayer: “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace.” For me, this is the message! Everything that happens to us happens to deepen our spiritual experience and understanding. EVERYTHING!
Here’s the larger, grander, more important message:
While I was dealing with a minuscule emotional skirmish, a major world-changing event occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia, where there was real suffering and discrimination.
In the words from a blog written by Brené Brown:
“Until we find a way to own our collective stories around racism in this country, our history and the stories of pain will own us. We will not get away from the violence and heartbreak. Fear and scarcity will continue to run roughshod over our country. Our collective stories around ‘race’ in the US are not easy to own. They are stories of slavery, violence, and systemic dehumanization. We will have to choose courage over comfort. We will have to feel our way through the shame and sorrow. We will have to listen. We will have to challenge our resistance and our defensiveness.
“Yes, we need to own a million heartbreaking stories of discrimination and prejudice, and make millions of changes, and hold space for a million tough conversations. If each one of us owns one story and makes one change and has one honest conversation where we listen more than defend or offer false comfort – we can do this. There is a way to write a brave new ending to one of the most painful stories in our history. What remains to be seen is if we have the will and courage.”
It will take a faith walk to have the honest, real conversations with ourselves and others about how we were raised, what we were taught, and what we need to surrender forever. Do you–do we–have the F.A.I.T.H. to release and let go of our own suffering and help relieve the suffering of others?
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