Sometimes I feel like I need to hammer out a post in a certain category just because I haven’t written actively in that category for a while. Yoga, for example. But one of the coolest things about yoga is that all wellness-related living is yoga. You’ve surely heard or read by now there are eight practices of yoga life. Yoga on the mat is only one of those practices. I won’t regurgitate the yoga sutra all over again; you can study that for extra credit on your own time. But I manage my neglect of the yoga category by remembering everything I write in the realm of wellness is a yoga practice. Sometimes it’s a sub-category. KonMari of the brain, y’all.
Remember those niyamas? Niyamas are, as Marc Holzman says, the yoga that is not poses. The niyamas are personal practices which transcend the mat. They are part of the yoga we live. Ishvara Pranidhana is one. It’s a mouthful, for sure, but it comes to mind when I am required to surrender to the healing process. Such as right now; post surgery. When it is in my best interest to reduce activity or intensity while energies are being devoted to the healing process, the act of giving in, yielding, or deferring is the effort or work — my part — of the process. This is Ishvara Pranidhana.
Sometimes pain is the reminder. I must to modify because it hurts not to modify. Other times it’s because the temporary disruption in my well-ordered routine sparks frustration and compassion is the fastest way out of frustration. Being compassionate to a wounded body boosts healing. If I’m 100% devoted to letting the body heal itself, I am 100% devoted to the surrender required to facilitate that healing. This giving in to/for the greater good is Ishvara Pranidhana.
Some yogis interpret Ishvara Pranidhana as dedicating, devoting, or surrendering our practice(s) to a higher power. I do not respond well to the idea of a higher power in the fundamental sense of a superior entity, separate from me, calling plays from the sidelines. All that God has a plan but we don’t know what it is business irritates me. Same with that person I am meant to be bullshit. When someone brings up the person I am meant to be I feel the person I am gets bullied. There is no other person I was meant to be. It’s an addictive form of thinking rooted in lack, need, and scarcity. Memes be damned, I am done with that. How do I show up for X, Y, Z? There is no showing up; I am already here. I’ve been here.
So obviously I do not jive with the suggestion that my life here on Earth is all planned out (in imaginary perfection) by some master architect with his or her own agenda for me but I do jive with the idea that the processes within our bodies are part of divine design. Such as the body’s ability to heal itself without being directed. The body automatically monitors itself and rushes to restore itself and is in fact constantly adjusting to keep us well. To this higher intelligence — which is part of me — I am happy to surrender.
During a significant injury or illness we can either help our bodies with healing or we can hinder them. One of the ways we help is to surrender to the requirement that in order devote maximum healing energy to our injury or illness, we need to back off our normal grind. Ease off the throttle. Lighten our loads. Dial down the intensity. Participate in healing by asking less of the body so it can be free to heal itself. Participate by doing less, if you will, so the body can do more. I heard a blogger describe it as managing her energy instead of managing her time. She rang my bell with that statement. When my body is injured energy management gets modified just like I might modify a Sun Salutation. Or not go for a run. Or resist heavy lifting. Or heavy socializing.
This is a practice. It can be a tough one in our culture of powering through. Take some painkillers and get on with taking care of business, right? We’ve got bills to pay and mouths to feed and shit to do. Gotta keep the status quo. Yes, but this undermines healing. It makes it harder for my body to work its magic and prolongs recovery. Sometimes it even makes things worse. Longer recovery time equals more inconvenience and more life disruption, not less. If I can shave days or even weeks off of recovery from illness or injury, why not give in (surrender) to only being sick or injured for a few days instead of many?
Raise your hand if you don’t have time to be sick or hurt. Keep your hand up if you’d refuse a built-in therapeutic mechanism that is activated automatically, adjusts and readjusts itself with no direction, and requires no more maintenance than food, water, and rest? Think about it. Or consider the alternatives. Bulldoze the body’s natural defenses and repairs and then get completed benched with major illness, invasive procedures, months or years of therapies, replacement parts, implants, you get the idea. Raise your hand if you’d take/make time to prevent any of this while your problem is still small and manageable. Ish-va-ra Pra-nidh-a-na.