When I had nothing left, no more ideas, no more options, no way out of the current situation. The only thing I could do was trust in the present moment. Trust that my current situation would pass. This trust allowed me to surrender fully. I released all worry and doubt.
It was on a trip back from The Ananda School of Yoga & Meditation in northern California to my home in Iowa City, IA that I hit a massive snow storm that seemed to appear out of nowhere. I had just driven across Wyoming; the vast skyline views, mountains, and the open road when the weather quickly changed to cloudy and cool. Rain began to fall. I was only a couple of hours from the Nebraska border when the rain turned to sleet and finally snow. The view of the open road became more and more limited to the space directly in front of my vehicle. I chose to get off the interstate and take highways. I often choose to do this when the weather gets bad as I can drive significantly slower and not have semis whizzing by.
It didn’t take long for a thick, slippery blanket of white to cover the beautiful scenery and the road. I was moving along at a mere 25 mph and sliding around like a monkey in socks on an ice rink. I had watched the weather progress as I had watched my anxiety and worry gain traction while my tires could not. I couldn’t pull over on these back roads as I would not be able to drive forward if I stopped, and even if I chose to stop it was freezing outside so I’d need to leave my car running. How long would this storm continue? Would I have enough gas to get me through the night and the next day? Choosing to take highway over interstate may have been safer but I was driving through a Native American Reservation area and there were no hotels or gas stations. On top of all of this my cell phone lost signal, so IF I did stop I’d have no way to let anyone know where I was. I was out of options. I was out of ideas. Like time ticking forward, I continued to inch along.
There were two ways I could continue. I could allow my worry and anxiety to consume me or I could surrender to the moment. Although at a slow crawl, I was still moving forward. I am an optimist at heart, sometimes to my own foolishness. Having just spent a month at yoga school I was well practiced in not allowing my feelings to get the best of me. Ever the observer. Instead of choosing to press onward in a space of worry and fear I chose to press onward from a place of calmness and trust in the powers that be. To help me along with this, I prayed out loud and proud. I told my higher power that I needed a way out. I needed somewhere safe that I could park and somewhere warm I could sleep for the night. I needed to know it when I saw it AND I only had fifty dollars to spare, so if it was a hotel it’d need to be cost effective. I laid it out and let it go and then just kept moving forward, inch-by-inch. I focused on the few feet in front of me that I could see, and I breathed deeply and audibly, releasing my tension as I went. This wasn’t easy, but still I pressed onwards.
Two hours later…. out of the blank white canvas, twinkling lights began to appear. It was a sign. Not just a figurative sign, but a literal sign. It was a casino sign with flashing lights. “THANK YOU DIVINE MOTHER!” Relief filled my body and I hollered as loud as I could as I pulled into the packed parking lot. One way or another I was going to stay here. I parked and headed inside through the brutal winds. The man at the front desk informed me the rooms were a minimum of $175 a night, but unfortunately they were all booked. I took a long, deep breath. This didn’t make sense. I was fully trusting and I felt deeply that this was where I was supposed to be. I asked, “Do you have any rooms available? Perhaps one that is under repair? I don’t need much. I’d sleep in the lobby if you’d let me.” The man sighed and gave a kind, pitying smile. He searched on his computer. Lo and behold! “I do have a king bed room but the TV isn’t working.”
“I’ll take it!” I exclaimed, but a moment of concern passed through me. “How much?”
“I’ll discount it due to the TV, so that’d bring it to $54 after taxes and fees.”
Grateful, grateful, grateful.
If you’re going to live your life based on delusions (and you are, because we all do), then why not at least select a delusion that is helpful.
-Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
This story is entirely true and is a reminder to me to trust and surrender to the flow of life. I may not always know the why or how of a situation, but with trust none of that matters. With trust I am able to surrender to my higher power. Maybe for you that is God or the natural flow of the Universe; for me it is the energy that lives inside me and the energy that lives all around. This energy is the comforting embrace of my Divine Mother and the steadfast power of my Divine Father.
Surrender is the most powerful feeling I have ever experienced. There is love in surrender, and there is peace and stillness too. So I remind myself to trust in my beliefs, to trust in my experiences, and to trust in my own intuition.
Part V of Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert is Trust. Trust in your creativity, your inspiration. Trust in your higher power, your belief system, yourself. Trust in your practices, your body, your mind. Trust in time. This too shall pass. You will come out the other side a new version of yourself. More resilient, stronger, and with a new level of faith in the powers that be.
What other option do we have? Succumb to the worry and anxiety which only create more worry and anxiety? Which only lead to clouded judgement, unease, and uncertainty? Pardon my language, but FUCK THAT.
The last couple of days have been very difficult for me. I’m sure many of you can relate. I have passed through waves of contentment and waves of worry and angst during this strange new world. It has been painful and dark, but I refuse to give into it. Yes it’s there. Yes it doesn’t feel good. Yes I wish it wasn’t there, but how do I continue? I return to what I have been practicing. My yoga and meditation practice isn’t just for the good times. The times where my life is going smoothly and I have Peace in my heart. I practice at these contented times so that when shit hits the fan I have something that will anchor me. So I practice. I put my body into postures that will relieve physical tension thus releasing mental tension. I chant or sing. I pray and speak to my higher power throughout the day conversationally. The way I see it is that in my dark times I wish to feel my higher power at all times, so I talk casually to It keeping it around, keeping It near. I meditate and create deep levels of stillness that I fill, later, with Divine Joy and Peace through expansion practices and joy practices.
I found this section of the book to come at the perfect time. Reading about trust in my creative process helped me to explore trust in all aspects of my life. Things are uncertain, and now more than ever we must trust in the process. We don’t get to know why this is happening or exactly how it is happening. To trust in these circumstances we must surrender. Cease resistance. I understand this is difficult, but breathe into the experience of what is. Stay present in the discomfort. It does not control you. YOU control you. You are the observer of the self. Your body may go through phases of releasing chemicals in your brain that make you feel anxious, worried, and afraid. You are not these feelings. You are the observer of them. Remain steadfast in this knowledge and trust in the process that is happening.
Here are some resources to assist you in surrender, trust, and expansion.
Surrender Practice: Please enjoy this practice with Betsy Rippentrop, owner of Heartland Yoga in Iowa City, IA on Lessening Anxiety Through Surrender.
Trust Practice: This chant has been one that I have been returning to again and again over the last couple of days: “From Joy I came, from Joy I live, in sacred Joy I melt again.” If you would like to learn about how to chant effectively click here.
The Sky and Earth Touched Me
- Find a quiet place to sit where you have a panoramic view and also an interesting foreground. For example, sit where there are flowers and grasses and perhaps a shrub close by, trees a little farther away, and a hill, mountain ridge, or expansive prairie in the distance.
- Sitting comfortably, close the eyes and become aware of your body. Listen to the sounds of life around you- far away- and nearby
- Open your eyes and extend your awareness just a few feet beyond your body to the nearby grasses, pebbles, and insects. Try to feel that you are in everything you see as much as you are in your own body. Feel yourself moving in and becoming alive in the natural world around you. Continue this for a minute or so. Whenever your mind wanders, gently bring it back to what is before you.
- Extend your awareness farther to include the nearby shrubs and trees- twenty to thirty feet away. Breathe and relax. Allow your attention to flow spontaneously, from the closest grasses and pebbles to the nearest trees. Feel that everything you see is part of you.
- Continue expanding your visual awareness in gradual stages. Fifty yards- a hundred yards- to the distant scenery- into the vast blue sky. All the while, keep the awareness of yourself in what is closest to you, as well as all the way out to the distant view and sky. Let your awareness flow freely and naturally to whatever interests you. Feel inside yourself the sky, trees and waving grasses.
Practice Expanding Circles for as long as you feel inspired. For your first time, try the exercise for 10-15 minutes.
Don’t rush through the experiences and circumstances that have the most capacity to transform you.
-Pastor Rob Bell
I recognize the discomfort within myself and the similar discomfort in all of us. In that sense, we are in this together. This isn’t happening to us, this is happening for us. Don’t surrender to the darkness: anxiety, worry, dread. Surrender to the light: trust, joy, peace, and love. Breathe deep and know this truth. Time is ticking by, this too shall pass. Accept this experience for what it is and grow into it. Just like in that snow storm, I could only focus on the few feet in front of me. We all must focus on what is directly in front of us, inching along, until we get to safety. Breathe.
May you always see the Light within,