Key to Surrender
The Key to Surrender:
For most of my life I have spent my time banging my head against the wall, attempting to try over an over again to “just get” whatever my desired result at the time was. Whether it was working out, practicing martial arts, drawing/painting etc. I would think about them all day, in agony, as my body rebelled from the abusive nature of my mind. I was tense. So tense in fact that while I was getting a massage the man said to me “aren’t you spiritual people supposed to be relaxed?” NO WE ARE NOT RELAXED! Or at least I wasn’t at the time (insert laughter here). Working on ourselves and trying to be a better person often times leads to despair. Why is that?
For a while I thought that I just lacked commitment, actually the original draft that inspired this blog containing the steps to surrender included one step as being “commit.” However I have learned that this is not the case. The reason that I would pick up working out and then quit was simply because I refused to accept the truth, which is to be a healthy human being and to be able to look the way that I want, working out is a requirement for me. I didn’t learn that until I had a desk job and started getting what I lovingly called a “dad bod.” After I accepted this, I worked out more consistently than I had in my entire life up to this very moment. As I am writing this I am still working out, even after injuries leading to extended time off I still have the inner drive to keep going. Why? Because I am armed with the truth. The truth isn’t something that goes away after you see it/feel it. It stays with you like a pesky mosquito or a beautiful friend, depending on the type of truth and the place you are in at this moment.
Life doesn’t work by forcing your self to do things that you don’t want to do, life is about accepting the truth, experimenting, and having fun! If we are all work and no play we will grind ourselves into the stone until we are dust. It was this very action that actually lead to one of the biggest discoveries about myself that I have ever stumbled across.
For a long time I practiced martial arts. I had happened across it after mulling over in my mind about where I could possibly find an authentic dojo. Kind of like trying to find a yoga studio that understands there is more to yoga then stretching and drinking green smoothies with your friends after. not that this kind of experience isn’t awesome, it just isn’t the authentic experience I would want. I wanted a “real” martial art experience. I had trained for many years as a child and loved it! The discipline and my natural aptitude seemed to fit so well together. I felt strong and powerful and capable. I wanted to recapture this feeling. So after waiting patiently for months (not looking for a dojo at all!) a friend of mine approached at the desk of the gym I was working and asked me if I ever heard of Takeda Sokaku* (actual name removed for their protection) I said no, and he proceeded to tell me all about the many facets of the arts studied there, including meditation, Japanese language, the healing arts, and of course the martial arts. It was like getting struck by lightening. My entire body vibrated and I was so excited I had the sudden urge to throw my chair across the room. I decided against it. It wasn’t long after that I began studying there. It was everything I imagined and more. The idea behind using your attackers strength against them. The idea of being like water rather than hard striking all the time (although we did that too) and the simple meditation styles which I still use to this day. I was happy, I was at home. So I thought.
Takeda Sokaku was a very convincing man. Alternatively, I may have just been so in awe of this person, or so deeply wanted to emulate him and his behavior, that I lost myself in the process. The problem was that I had no idea that I was gone. I eventually committed myself, with the help of a friend, to go to every class possible. I figured that if I held on to the marital arts, that the intense existential dread that I was feeling on a daily basis would eventually fade. I was wrong.
Practice in the dojo was difficult but rewarding and fun at times. Practicing at home was like putting my head through a meat grinder. It was terrible, and the less that I practiced the harder I got on myself. It was around this time that I also decided to begin working out again and chose the Plyo Xtreme (fictionalized for flavor) plan. After lots of research it seemed like a good idea. After two weeks I got extremely ill. I had no idea, even though it was screaming at me in the face. YOU CANNOT FORCE YOURSELF TO DO THIS. Instead of listening to this powerful resounding feeling, I decided to just try harder but only in one thing. So I stuck to martial arts only thinking that this was a sure fire way from keeping me from burning out. It didn’t work. Misery and dread continually set in. I felt like a prisoner in my own body. Til one day, after feeling completely burnt out I sat down and pulled out “The Mastery of Love” by Don Miguel Ruiz. (I am listing this book with its actual title as it is an essential read for the spiritual seeker.) As I got ready to read the book I felt, for the briefest of moments, the feeling of being home. That night I have a recurring dream of flying. It began normally but for the first time in this dreams history instead of being lost while I was outside exploring, I suddenly had the direction to get home. I felt it resonating through my entire body home was this way and I flew. I woke up with a feeling of amazement.
Something changed in me that day, at some point after burning myself out weeks later I sat down and finally allowed myself some time to the television. I had been wanting to watch the show Chronicles of Shannara for a long time on netflix but had never allowed myself to because training was more important. The words of Takeda Sensei resounded through my mind “at least you are on the mat doing the work rather than at home watching TV.” Today I was just too tired to care. Within 15 minutes of watching the show I had the idea for my first novel (since I was 15 at least) and after that the idea for my first video, (which I am filming this week). I hadn’t felt so inspired in my entire life. Suddenly I realized that all along I was doing things wrong. You cannot force yourself to be something you are not.
The first step to surrender is letting go of all of the expectations of other people, and their lifestyles and being willing to embrace who you are and what you like. I didn’t choose to read the Mastery of Love again for so long because “Don Miguel Ruiz’s work was no longer in the dojo curriculum so it must be old news.” I didn’t want Chronicles of Shannara because “watching TV was a waste of time.” These are things that I essentially invented in my own mind. Takeda Sensei loves movies and media, just the martial arts kind. That he considers part of his practice. I just didn’t realize that my practice was elves, magic, and story. Go figure.
We can’t keep ourselves form our joy just because we think that something else is better for us. Now I am talking about real joy, authentic joy, not the artificial joy you get from drugs or overeating sugary foods. We have to be willing to embrace which seems to us to be idiosyncrasies, or what someone lovingly said about Takeda Sensei your “Quirkiness.” These are the things that bring color and beauty into your life.
Surrender is all about acceptance. Accepting yourself and where you are. There is no need to change these things… unless of course there is a reason to physically change where you are, you can read all about that in my upcoming work. Parts of which this story itself is embedded in. To bring the energy of surrender into your life a practice like my breathe in “find faith”, breath out “release belief” meditation can help. Getting in touch with your body helps release all the bullshit in your head. It also help release all the tension in your body, which I am happy to say recently a co worker went give me a shoulder massage and exclaimed “Wow you are so relaxed.” Yes I am relaxed, because I am finally not afraid to be me.
Except those times I am afraid to be me. We can’t be inspired and happy every waking moment of our lives… can we? No seriously, if you find the answer let me know.
If you want to find out more about surrender check out my new book: