Last night at yin yoga, after an hour already of slow movement in a gently heated room, with live music filling the space, I found myself bent over in pigeon pose, hip and knee open to the side, body bent down over my leg, face pressing into the mat. It was a seemingly terribly awkward and uncomfortable position. I was on my right hip, which ever since 10 hrs of back labor with Mateo has never been quite the same. But as I moved slowly into the pose over 3-4 minutes, I suddenly found myself in this fascinating moment of surrender, suspended between the challenge of the posture and total relaxation.
The hip itself was hurting, but in that “this pain is good” sort of way, and as I breathed into it I actually felt my entire body let go even as the hip was screaming. It actually reminded me vividly of labor itself with Jalen, during which I moved fluidly between contraction and total relaxation, actually falling asleep between contractions as I breathed in and totally gave myself over to the process. It is an altered state of reality, this kind of total letting go, in this case amplified by the live music and energy flowing through the room. Despite the fact that my body was bent into a totally unnatural seeming position, for those moments I was totally surrendered, amorphous, one with the mat, one with the floor, one with the bodies surrounding me. I could hold the balance of the pain and the joy of the stretch all at once. All I needed to do was keep breathing.
In reading the Seven Valleys by Baha’u’llah, which describes the seven levels through which a wayfarer passes in pursuit of the Divine, I was initially surprised that the “Valley of Love” was only the second valley. How could it be? Isn’t love the highest level of connection? I mean, “In this city the heaven of ecstasy is upraised and the world-illuming sun of yearning shineth, and the fire of love is ablaze.” But in fact, “the steed of that valley is pain,” for in that valley the seeker is still driven by passion and his own desire, and tormented by his own longing for the Beloved.
Finally, if the seeker makes his way through the valleys of Search, Love, Knowledge, Unity, Contentment, and Wonderment, he reaches total peace in the “Valley of True Poverty and Absolute Nothingness.” Baha’u’llah writes, “This station is the dying from self and the living in God, the being poor in self and rich in the Desired One. For when the true lover and devoted friend reacheth to the presence of the Beloved, the sparkling beauty of the Loved One and the fire of the lover’s heart will kindle a blaze and burn away all veils and wrappings. Yea, all he hath, from heart to skin, will be set aflame, so that nothing will remain save the Friend.” Total surrender. In Buddhist terms, this is Emptiness. For others, it might be Enlightenment. The giving over of one’s self so fully that we realize we are in fact one with it All…there is no room left for our own unique desires and longings…we just ARE. everything and nothing, all at once.
So as I lay there last night, literally melting into the floor, I wondered to myself…in what areas of my life could I give myself over to total surrender? How could I take this “off the mat and into the world”? To completely allow the mystery to fill my being and to be in such an open state that I move from that place? It calls to mind this short prayer, again from the Baha’i Writings:
“O God, Make me a Hollow Reed from which the pith of self hath been blown, that I may become a clear channel through which They love may flow unto others.”
What would it mean to you to surrender today, and every day? Is that a scary idea? What about all of our ideas and plans and desires and intentions??? How do we achieve what we are working for if we fully surrender?? How to hold it all in the balance?
I am interested to hear your thoughts on this, beautiful people….
*love and blessings*