In My Meditation Today: Surrender does not equal inaction. Surrender is letting go; letting go of guilt or regrets about the past, and worry about the future. It is a sigh of relief, a squaring of your shoulders, a descending into your hips, and being present here and now. It is leaning back knowing that life always has your back, dropping your barriers, allowing inspiration to flow.
The Sapta Shloki consists of seven verses from the Devi Mahatmyam – the Grand Story of the Divine Mother. Reciting these seven verses is considered equivalent to reciting the entire 700 verse scripture.
The fourth verse in the Sapta Shloki is
Sarvasyaarthi Hare Devi
Salutations to you O Narayani,
Who is intent on rescuing the distressed and afflicted who surrender to you
Who removes the suffering of all.
Sharanam, in Sanskrit, translates to surrender; Gata – to walk on or on the path; Thus Shararagatha – She who is on the path of surrender or has surrendered.
This verse for me is all about the act of surrender.
It is letting go of the feeling that I have to control and manipulate the present to create a particular future.
It is a letting go of the worry that I do not know how to act in the present and that I cannot act unless I know exactly what to do.
It is clearing out the confusion and fog that memories of the past and anxiety about the future create.
It is also something that one practices again and again, and sometimes grace intervenes, and you experience a magical miracle that a complete surrender is. A miraculous opening of the mind and access to inspiration & intelligence that you never knew you had.
It was the moment of reckoning. I had worked hard for several months to prepare for the comprehensive exam that would qualify me as a doctoral student and allow me to complete my Ph.D. I had to go through two grueling days of exams. We entered the hall at 9 am, and pretty much went straight through to the end of the day, except for body breaks.
The first day was reasonably easy – as easy as a graduate exam in applied statistics can be.
On the afternoon of the second day, my worst fears were realized. There was a question on the paper that I was sure I could not answer. Getting this wrong could mean failing the exam. My heart was racing. Images of me telling my husband and children that I had failed and the disappointment on their faces filled my head; I told myself I would never complete my Ph.D. because this would happen again in the next exam. My inner critic was gleefully telling me how stupid I was and how I had just proven that I was never really going to be as good as the rest of the students in the class.
As I began to go down that spiral, I put my pen down; I took a deep breath and began speaking to Krishna, my go-to Hindu God in times of crisis.
“Okay,” I said, “This is all yours. I do not know what to do here, so now would be a good time to work a miracle”.
As I said that, my breath slowed and became deeper, the brain freeze-thawed. “Although I cannot quite remember the formula I need, I know how to derive formulae,” I said to myself, “I can try and resolve this problem using first principles.” Ideas and inspiration flowed, and I remembered statistical principles and processes that I did not even know that I knew. Suffice it to say, I cleared my comprehensive and won the award for outstanding doctoral student :). As a mother of two, a wife, and a full-time student who also worked part time, that was quite an achievement… one that I was close to giving away in that moment of frustration and confusion. If I had not taken a breath and allowed myself to experience surrendered action, I would have failed the exam and probably would not have had the courage to try again.
Surrender is not helpless inaction. It is an opening up to grace and settling into inspired action in the present moment.