What a word! How many people are able to fully surrender, even if just for a moment? Forget worries, problems, issues, and completely surrender? Not many. I know plenty that can’t, and how I wish they could taste it for just one day! Some people I love so much, who stress a lot most of the time, would benefit from feeling a complete relaxation, if only just once. But that is something I can’t do for them, so I can only wish it will happen someday. Meanwhile I can write about areas in my life that have been positively affected by that, hoping to inspire them. As soon as I learned to let go, even breathing was different.
Breath awareness is something we all should experience at some point in life. Having the ability to direct the breath to a part in your body that is hurting for instance will give you so much relief! Sometimes while doing some kind of exercise I feel some body part being tense, I then direct my breath there, and it immediately relaxes. If it is hurt, the pain will be reduced; if it is just constricted, the breath will allow it to release and pretty soon I will have forgotten that part even bothered me. Being able to do this has opened a whole new world for me!
I remember going into a 5K race a while ago. It was my first one, and a friend had invited me to go with her. She had been training, unlike me. I had such a hard time! It was hard not just on my legs that got fatigued, but also on my whole body because of the breath. After months, I decided to join another 5k race and try again. Little did I know how much breath work would help me! I finished in almost the same time as the first one, as I did not train; again. As you can tell, running is not my thing! But I was amazed to see I had finished this time in a much better overall condition. I kept breathing in the same rate almost the whole time, and sending breath to those body parts that were in need throughout the race. What a difference it made!
A few years later, I had a whole new experience with scuba diving. I had done it many times before, but I would always come to the surface with my tank very low on oxygen. Plus, my experience down there almost always had moments of panic – sometimes when I couldn’t keep myself on the same level as my peers (to follow the group for safety reasons) or sometimes when surprised by a shark or a school of barracudas. Those encounters would literally take my breath away. And gagging or choking down there is not the same as out of the water, as you can imagine. So, scuba diving after I learned to handle my breath better transformed my dives into a much more pleasurable experience. I am able to stay longer underwater now and can control my floating more easily. I wish I knew how to breathe better when I got lost during a night dive…
There are also big effects in terms of relating to other people. Sometimes you hear words that trigger reactions from you, and breathing will help with those reactions. If you take time for a deep breath before you say anything, you will have time to think and rethink about what you are about to say. And maybe even have time to apply the four gates of speech to it: is it true? Is it necessary? Is it timely? Is it kind? I am not telling you to take a slap on the face and be quiet. I am encouraging you to analyze what you will say and really check if it will add to the situation; will it take you both to a better place? Well, as much as I like this subject, I have already mentioned this on another post (Acting versus reacting) in February/2011, so let’s move on.
All of the above mentioned, plus so many other areas in my life have improved after learning to breathe better, which came after learning to surrender on my yoga mat. At the end of class, we usually have time set aside to rest on our mats in a still and relaxed position. As you lie down there doing nothing, just being, letting your weight be held by the Earth, you don’t need to do anything, since breathing is involuntary, so why not surrender? Just the sound of it makes me relax! Surrender to what is, let the world carry your weight for a moment, instead of trying to carry the weight of the world yourself. Doesn’t it feel much better? Now, the trick is bringing this lesson from your yoga mat or martial arts training, running practice, etc. to your life. Apply that sense of surrendering, when you let go of everything, to many moments during your daily activities that call for it. Notice how different your day goes; how lighter it feels. Try to do it every time you remember; surrender and allow life to unfold.