During the second week of March, I experienced what I have been internally referring to as assaults to the inner winds of my body. I have found myself violently being pushed around by the thoughts in my head created to various experiences within the external world.
As I have taken some time (a week afterwards, mind you) to look back I am better able to see that the “bad” things that compounded on me were due to the over identification I tend to have with my ego. What I mean by this is that EVERY SINGLE THING that happened during that week was either a sign of why I was loved or hated, respected or ridiculed, worthy or not. And, this was to very minor inconsequential things that happened – including whether I caught the right bus, enough people showed up to my class who left “happy,” etc.
While the intellectual side of me understands that to a great deal I struggled with such issues of worthiness because I have over identified my self-worth with the thoughts and opinions of others, there is another part of me that feels that I struggle with the battle of my ego because I struggle with faith.
Ishvara Pranidana – the fifth niyanama, inner practice – discussed by Pantajali in the yoga sutras has never been something I have fully felt comfortable with, let alone attempted to explore. For whatever reason, “surrendering to a higher source,” which is what this fifth inner practice refers to, has never been something I have willingly done.
Again, the intellectual part of me wants to figure my way out of this, explain my unwillingness to surrender to something I cannot see based upon the fact that its normal that a logical person would have a hard time devoting one’s self to something they cannot see, touch, and feel. And yet, people do it all the time regardless of their religious beliefs. Love is a perfect example. How many people find themselves caught up in a devoted reverie to something they often describe as bigger than themselves? And while I believe in love (or at least I hope I do), I struggle with faith.
This brings up the second point, perhaps my difficulty with Ishvara Pranidana has to do with the word surrendering? Maybe I have a hard time surrendering to something because very often (at least within the western world) to surrender means to admit defeat and to admit defeat makes one a failure and to be a failure is socially undesirable. And yet… some of the greatest acts of bravery, strength, and success within human civilization are those that are created through the act of surrendering. Here individuals involved in non-violent resistance come to mind. Such individuals surrendered their egos to the cause of non-violence, hoping and believing there was another way to equality and peace.
All of this leaves me with the following questions that I hope to leave with you: What is your relationship with this inner practice of surrendering to the higher source? Are you able to see (and experience) how letting go of your little ego (the one often formed by fears of inadequacy) is keeping you somehow separate from the divine beauty that connects us all? Have you been able to find the freedom (samadhi/Peace/Love/happiness) that has been promised – not just by Pantajali but by nearly all religions out there? And if so, what was it that allows you to step away from that little voice inside your head that wants to keep you small, and allow yourself to willingly surrender to something that is bigger than any of us at any given moment?