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{Blog Post}The Practice of Surrendering to the Unknown: Ishvara Pranidhana

Everyone is experiencing their response to the “stay at home” order and fear around Covid-19 in a variety of different ways. For many of us, the challenge of being at home with our families 24-7 fluctuates between being a wonderful time to connect with one another to being a never-ending opportunity to have our patience tested. Having a home filled right now with two kids, an exchange student-teacher, and a husband, I get to practice my patience quite regularly. As I’ve struggled to manage this “new normal” and figure out how to be of service to my family, my community and myself, I have relied on the yoga principle of Ishvara Pranidhana to help guide me through. Ishvara Pranidhana can be translated as having faith in something greater than oneself. With that faith we might then be able to surrender and let go, offering ourselves and our actions to the divine and/or humanity. I can’t think of a time that has forced me into a position of surrender quite like the present moment. I’m used to having a plan (I’m a Virgo, so I live off of to-do lists) and the inability to know what to plan for; to know what will happen today, tomorrow, next week, or next month is, shall we say, “challenging”? In other words, it is incredibly hard to be in a position where we can’t control our daily life, where we can’t seemingly control our reality. How do we ease the suffering that comes along with that lack of control? We surrender. Yes, it’s easier said than done. Yet, we are given so many opportunities right now for us to practice it. How can we do this in practice? Begin to notice your struggling and where it is coming from. Are you upset that you no longer have full control of your schedule because your partner or spouse is working from home, your kids are running around, and your dog needs to go outside constantly (welcome to my world)? Your reality might look a little different than that, but your schedule has likely been impacted by your inability to leave the house freely to go where you want, or by the people who are now sharing close space with you throughout the day.

When you feel yourself starting to want to control your reality, can you allow yourself to surrender, to let go of how you think things “should” be and simply accept them as they are? Maybe you are feeling heartbroken right now by the suffering you see around you and on the news. For any empaths reading this, you might be feeling this on a visceral level, which is incredibly hard. In addition, our inability to shift the trajectory and our lack of control over the impact of this virus can feel traumatic. What do we do when we hurt and feel out of control? The only thing we can do. We let go and surrender our attachment to how we want things to be. If that feels too big, we take it moment by moment and breath by breath. Just like in our final savasana at the end of our yoga practice, we surrender our thoughts, worries, the control of our body and breath and simply let go.

It may sound simple, but at times it might be the most challenging part of our practice. However, as you know, it might also be the most rewarding.

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