In Yoga Sutra 1.23, Patanjali gives us another value to incorporate in our life as yogis. It is a practice called Ishvara Pranidhana. Ishvara I translated in so many ways: from “the Supreme”, to “Truth”, or “God”. Pranidhana means devotion or surrender.
Surrender. What a scary word don’t you think? The word surrender always sits uncomfortably in my head. However, the practice of Ishvara Pranidhana means that we should surrender our egos to God, the God that is also within us all, our higher self and True Nature. And let me tell you, God is an even more challenging word for me.
However, even if I still struggle with the word “God”, this idea of surrendering the Ego to the ultimate Truth and the highest vibrations of the Universe is something I feel I can practice. The promise of it is that If we dedicate our lives to serving God (whatever this word means to you), to serving that God that is always within all other living beings, we will have the opportunity to step beyond all those feelings that make us feel miserable. We will have something or someone to which we can offer our effort and worries, hopes and wishes. Of course, this has to be backed up with abhyasa, with hard work practice. And this is what I like about this philosophy. it’s not like: “ok, even if I behave like a criminal, I can confess my crimes to a priest and I am clean”. No. Ishvara Pranidana is practiced together with the great effort to embrace values that will make us better people. What you surrender is the result of your effort and your ego chatter.
Even if I still struggle with this concept, I try to practice it. I try not to beat myself up all the time when something that I worked for so hard doesn’t immediately happen. I try to surrender when things are not in my control at all, instead of keeping on over controlling everything. I trust more that things will go the way they need to go. And above all, I offer all my sufferings to the Universe. I try to exhale all the negativity generated during my practices and donate it as the ashes of a fire that has intensively burnt.
I offer the effort I put into studying yoga during these tree weeks. And I surrender to Ishvara.