We want to control our lives to have a better chance at happiness. But if happiness and peace are the goal, surrendering the ego is what we should strive for. I speak not of waving a white flag at life and giving up on dreams. I mean, bow to the presence of the moment, to enjoy it for what it is.
The thought came to me last night while I struggled to get to sleep. Notice my language: I struggled. In fact, this is what most of us do daily: struggle, try to control, fight… to be happy. It occurred to me that the reason I couldn’t fall asleep was because my life is full of uncertainties. At the end of the day, my mind wants me to work overtime to “fix” what’s wrong, “learn” better ways, “turn” every rock to find fulfillment. When I prayed for wisdom, one word came to mind: surrender. Surrender mind to gain silence.
In relationships, expectations sometimes grow higher than the enjoyment of one another. Trouble ensues shortly after. What if we surrendered expectations and simply appreciated the person we love? What if we focused on being with them, instead of what we want from them? Expectations are something we actually have control over. Surrendering the ego of expectations is the ultimate showing of appreciation and generosity.
What would a day of surrendering the ego look like? It starts with surrendering worries to live in the moment. When showering, focus on the warm water running down your spine. At the gym, feel your bones and muscles speaking to you as you stretch, run or lift. At work, focus on the joy of the task at hand or surrender the expectation that the task should be joyful. At dinner, enjoy your meal, taste every bite. Surrender expectations that a magic fairy will clean up the kitchen, or bathe your child. Enjoy your lover or your freedom. Surrender your feelings of inadequacy or hurt. You are tired: surrender the need to do more or be more, so you can sleep.
Surrendering the ego, in a sense, is focusing on the journey and letting the destination come when it may, as it may. Do we have the courage or the humility to do that? Does obsessing about outcomes ensure they’ll materialize according to plan? Some of our dreams are entirely up to us, but many are tied to someone or something else. Can we claim the work but surrender the outcome? Can we just enjoy that walk, that day, that piece of cake without the burdensome anticipation, remorse or guilt?
One of my favorite yoga poses is extended child pose. To me, it is the physical expression of surrender. I am vulnerable in a sitting pose with my head down, reaching my arms out as if saying to my source: “Here I am. I’m yours. I trust you. I’ve done my best and now it’s your turn. Do your will.” Sometimes, nothing stands in our way but our minds. How much happier could we be if we surrendered it?