Giving Up Control and Letting Life Happen

storm cloudsThis morning, I went to an early yoga class. I thought about skipping the class since I didn’t sleep well, but I managed to get myself up and ready anyway. At 7:40 am, tired not only from lack of sleep but because of lingering sadness over the issue that had kept me awake, I pushed myself out the door.

The issue that stole my slumber is one that I’ve been struggling with for a while now. I don’t give up on things easily, but in this case, I’ve begun to feel like it really is time to stop trying. Some things are too draining and too difficult, and it serves us better to just let them go. At least that’s what my “yoga brain” was telling me as I headed to class feeling resigned to the fact that it was time to stop trying to solve the particular problem that was on my mind.

Giving up Control

Yoga has a way of calling us to the mat for very specific reasons. Of course, this doesn’t happen every time, but it’s up to us to notice when it does. Today was one of those days. The teacher began, as she usually does, by sharing a reading. This one was about letting go of control. “So often we feel like we need to be in control of everything in our lives,” she began.

I smiled, because this was right in line with the conversation I’d had with myself earlier. I’d set (again) my intention to stop trying to make something happen – because I knew there was no hope. I was just going sit (really, hide) and let whatever was going to happen (or not happen) unfold.

“Can you relate to this?” the teacher asked me. She’d noticed my smile.

“I just had this conversation with myself this morning,” I replied.

At least I’d thought I did.

She continued to read a passage about the things that challenge us in life and how we often want to put ourselves right into them and take control and direct the outcome. We just want to say, “Enough! I don’t like the way this is going.”

In my case, the “control” I thought about taking was going to look more like giving up. I would stop struggling with something that wasn’t going the way I needed it to go.

“But sometimes things are hard because they are meant to teach us something,” was the message my teacher was reading this morning. It surprised me, because I thought the “control issue” reading would be more about walking away from things that are too hard instead of trying to control them. When I heard those words – the ones about how things are supposed to be hard sometimes – I was really annoyed! This wasn’t the message I wanted. I didn’t want to be told to keep enduring something that was really feeling way too difficult – impossible, really – to deal with.

So I did what any good yogi would do. I bit my proverbial tongue (the one that wanted to speak in rebuttal to this crazy thing I was hearing) and listened to the rest of the passage. If there’s any truth to the idea that things come to us when we need to hear them, this was one example.

Staying in the Storm

It’s tough to think that there are some things in our lives that may always be difficult and that the difficulty is meant to be there because without those challenges, we will not be able to grow in important ways. I don’t know if I’ll eventually come back to my conviction that it’s time to give up, but thanks to this yoga class, I’m going to try again – maybe just this one time more, and maybe many more times – because I was reminded this morning that accepting difficult things without trying to control them can be a powerful way to awaken. It’s another opportunity to flex a spiritual muscle – and we need all of those muscles to be strong if we truly want to travel the path to enlightenment.

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