Over the last few months I've had this theory circling through my brain from a book review I read over the summer. As often happens, I didn't remember the name of the book OR the author, but what did nuzzle into my brain was my reaction to Michael Singer's story of the "The Surrender Experiment" I read the article probably 4 times, it kind of stopped me in my tracks. Michael Singer is a yogi and billionaire, and it's his message + that fact was what first peaked my interest in his story. Shocker, right? No matter what value we place on money, I think most of us feel a similar intrigue around people that make money, lead, and thrive in a way that supports their values. It's one of the topics that grabs me the most, in personal interest but also as a universal thread that connects my generation, and all of us, regardless of age, who believe we can align our passions and values with our work.
You just don't see those words in the same sentence often. In my world, in San Francisco, I hear surrender in yoga class, and billionaire when reading about the tech elite. Many of whom have turned to meditation and yoga to help destress and get centered, to take a break from their tech work. But what's curious to me about Singer, is that he embraced yoga and his surrender experiment long before the billionaire part.
Here's Singer's description of the Surrender Experiment. The excerpt is from the Yoga Journal's Interview with him.
"The surrender experiment is a challenge I gave myself to try to allow life to unfold around me without struggling with it. We are all intelligent enough to realize that we are not in control of 99.9 percent of what goes on around us. Our hearts beat, our food digests, and our cells divide — all without any intervention of our own. Likewise, the planets stay in orbit, and the entire rest of the universe unfolds on its own. We are not controlling any of this, yet it has been unfolding in perfect harmony for billions of years. If the forces of creation can create and maintain the entire universe, every moment, are not the moments unfolding in front of me part of this same universal perfection?
When I was in my early twenties, I took one look at this and realized that all the moments of creation are part of the same interrelated perfection. They have nothing to do with me; they belong to the forces that created them. All that is happening each moment is that I’m seeing the result of 13.8 billion years of forces that interacted together to create exactly what is in front of me. That being the case, I decided to experiment with surrendering to that perfection instead of listening to what my preference-driven mind had to say about it. Specifically, when something appears in front of me, I try to honor and respect the enormity of its origins, rather than immediately judging whether I like it or not. That is the surrender experiment, and my new book is about what ended up happening as I aligned myself with life instead of struggling to align life to me."
I am reading "The Surrender Experiment" now, and will post more if people like this article, about him and his life, and anything else you want to know that I can gather from the book.
Alignment. I like that word. While many parts of the article resonate with me, it's the part that I can tie into my life most clearly. When do you feel most aligned in your life?
I feel aligned in my life when I..
Remember things that are important to me and to pay attention to them.
I believe in things bigger than myself.
I am connected with people I care about that share similar values. friends, family, students, teachers. Moving to a new city has been a great opportunity to be intentional about who I chose to reach out, connect with, and even those I remind often to come to my yoga classes! (consider yourself lucky to be pestered) Because those are the people I feel connected to. They support me, elevate me, make me laugh. I think they feel the same about me. Without overthinking it - who are the people you feel most excited to be around? Instead of hanging out with people you "should" see, because you haven't seen them in a long time, or even because you "should for work", you may consider doing what makes you feel more aligned, and coming back to work the next day feeling super aligned with yourself and what you want, having refrained from being around potentially draining energy.
I am focused on organization. In my thoughts, actions and work. I am a creative person and can float around in my creative head. Staying organized and using healthy habits to keep me moving forward in my work and in my day is a huge part of feeling aligned with doing what I say I will do and meeting my goals.
I am listening and adapting to what my body and mind need. I can tend ebbs and flow on big curves, where I'm really into running or endurance exercise a lot, and then something hurts and I jump full on back into yoga. Allowing myself to embrace whatever I'm doing, and recognize that balance of both things often makes me feel best. Because the alignment comes from when I feel balanced, and beyond physically, when can mentally easily flow back and forth to incorporating both movements into my life.
I am balanced. Specifically with alone time and friend/relationship time. With structured time and free time. With still time and active time. And then, even being OK with feeling out of balance sometimes.
I also consciously wrote I am all of those things. You are, already, all of the things that make you feel aligned. Just call them out to remind yourself!
What are the things that make you feel aligned? I'm so curious! And what are the things that hold you back from feeling aligned? I'm also curious to know what readers think of Singer's perspective and if you feel like this jives with you? Did it give you a new perspective? Or did it not really resonate with you? You're probably not reading at this point if it didn't :)
I truly believe there are infinite paths for success, and aligning your values with your work. There is something for every type of person. I believe there are many possible paths, and that there isn't "one path" where we'll be most happy. I know for a long time before committing to teaching yoga and starting an online community, I struggled so much figuring out what "THE thing" was. There is no "right" path for anyone. I think too often it's "idealized" to quit your job to be a yoga teacher. Or be an entrepreneur. Sure these can be great things and great careers - if you want it. But I can tell you it's not "the" thing to feel aligned and happy. It's ONE way. Everyone contributes in their own perfect way, including you :)
Thanks for reading! And if you want to hear more about Michael Singer, watch his video
Please also feel free to comment here, email or leave a comment on the FB page if you'd like.