Effort and Surrender

A common theme that is used in Anusara Yoga classes is effort and surrender. In a lunge for example - you inhale, hug to the midline and charge your back leg with muscular energy - and then you exhale - and soften, surrendering to the square of the front knee, drawing your hip crease back and extending from your core - the focal point of the energy which first draws in and then draws out - moving the heart forward and lengthening the back leg. Effort must preceed surrender. And you cannot have one without the other.

I thought of this as I paddled in the river this morning. I went farther upstream than I ever had and found that it required less effort on my part than it has previously.

It was a beautiful morning, and for at least an hour there was no one the river beside myself. After paddling up the third island and trying to see how far it went, I reached a pre-determined spot and then turned back until I reached my favorite place in the middle of an "H" - where I could see both the Virginia and Maryland shores - being equidistant between them and two islands - the "H" being the shape of the river so to speak. This is the place where I love to meditate and allow myself to let go and float down the river.

This is the place that is my "reward" - I paddle to this point and then I experience the surrender that follows my effort. I close my eyes and release to the whims and gentle currents of the river. When I finally open them I am often surprised as to where I end up or what direction Grace is facing.

Life is like that - just like our practice is like that - be it an asana practice or a meditation practice. There are times we need to exert effort. There are also times we over-effort. But when we surrender to the flow - we find a gentle rhythm. Practice becomes easier - as does paddling.

But why is this so difficult to learn? And why does this lesson have to be learned again and again?

I was reminded how we live in playground of constant lessons and experiences we are meant to have. We may not know the reasons why, but in my heart of hearts I know there is a Divine plan to everything that is experienced under the sun.

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