I love control. I yearn for it in every aspect of my life. I ache to be in control of my home, my family, my relationships, my schedule, and all outcomes. Whether real or the illusion of, nothing is more appealing to me than the idea of being able to control a situation.

The problem is, the more I chase control the more it eludes me, and I find that trying to control things seeps into every aspect of my life.

Even as a yoga instructor of 13 years, I recently realized how much I try to control my practice. I want to make sure I maintain a certain discipline in my practice schedule, I get frustrated when I can’t do poses I once could, I sometimes fear exploring other styles or interpretations of asanas because I don’t want to forget what I have been taught.

Then there is the controlling of the outcomes. I must meditate so I can stay present, I must control my triggers and be calm, I have to be my Highest Self or else. Even when we are working towards being calmer, happier, healthier people a current of control runs ever through.

Yet, is this yogic?

Or is losing control, or surrender to outcomes we cannot fix or manipulate truly the ultimate path to joy and bliss?

“Surrender to Yoga, for where is the conflict when the truth is known.”

-Sri T.Krishnamacharya

Nothing Is in Control

I recently saw a meme that hit me like a rush of cold air. It simply said, “Relax, nothing is in control.” My initial reaction was that this is ridiculous, I never relax unless I think I am in control!

Control of a deal working out, control of someone not leaving me, control of my day going as planned. Still, things rarely go as I expect them to.

I worry over every “what if” to try and prevent anything ruining my plans, and then, the one thing I did not see coming is the thing that derails it. I then automatically tell myself I should have worried more, better perhaps, so I could have seen this missing factor and addressed it ahead.

So, how can I relax knowing that no matter how much I do or how much I try to foresee the future many things are simply out of my control?

Read: Yoga's Philosophy on Calming the Waves of the Mind (Vritti)

Learning to Surrender

This month I started doing a mediation on surrender during times of slumber that I found incredibly helpful. Where I often have trouble sleeping because I fear not doing things to control potential outcomes, this mediation walked me through delegating my tasks to my higher power while I slept.

The idea of not seeing rest as laziness or a time when I am vulnerable, but instead as a chance to let God/the universe/energy do the work I need to be done was a powerful invitation to surrender in a way that left me feeling more cared for than if I was doing it all myself.

In the heart of control is a nucleus of fear.

We try to control things so they won’t hurt us and so that we can maintain what is dear to our hearts. But like water in our hands, if we squeeze it tight it simply escapes our grasp, if we open our hands and let it rest in the cup of our palm it is still and we are at peace. If we release the fear, we act in ways that better grow and nurture what matters to us.

I think this is my ultimate yoga; the path of surrender.

Read: The Practice of Surrender

We Can't Know What Is Coming

In recent times, with a virus causing the world to pause, canceling everything we thought was certain, and stopping us in our tracks we are forced to realize that we truly cannot predict what is ahead in any aspect of our lives. For control addicts like myself, this is our worst nightmare, but also our ultimate call to growth.

In this time of quarantine, disease, and a global shutdown we are reminded more than ever that so little is actually in our control. What we thought was “planned” can change in a heartbeat.

This can fill us with dread, a sense that we shouldn’t hope for the future or even dream of brighter days, and yet this is equally a reminder of the that good can come out of nowhere. No, we can’t predict global pandemics, but we also can’t predict the graces that come in the midst of crisis or the blessings that equally catch us by surprise.

For now, I have to sit in this stillness, not knowing what will or will not be. Instead of fighting the current, that is pulling me under, I must float. Like quicksand, I will suffocate, if I move frantically, but survive if I am still.

It is ok that I can’t control everything or everyone, it is in accepting this truth that I am truly free. All I have is this moment, this breath, this is samadhi.