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Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Art of Surrender

I was on a film shoot recently, and had the opportunity to watch a director at work.

I had thought that a director's main charge would be to make decisions solely on the benefit of the film being made, to inspire the crew to that end, and to get everyone working together in a creative (and hopefully fun and rewarding) environment.

Boy, was I wrong.

Towards the end of the day's shooting (after the director had taken some drink on set without the day's filming having yet wrapped up) he started to make decisions for the benefit of his ego, to show who was the boss, and consequently caused tension on set.

If a person has to start persuading people with caveman tactics that he or she is in charge, then obviously they aren't - either of themselves or their surroundings. True leadership is knowing the art of delegation, and when to let go.

It wasn't for the first time that day that I thought the subsequent strained scenes I witnessed could have been avoided had the man known balance and what I like to call the art of surrender.

Knowing Balance

Like our planet, we need balance.

To be balanced in life is not a skill we can learn, it is something we must create in our lives. This requires effort and learning the art of surrender.

Our efforts have to be dynamic, in that we need to constantly check our balance. For example, physically, if we shift attention to our right foot (i.e. we lift it) we need to keep an eye on our left foot, too. This is balance. It is the same mentally, and emotionally, when we focus on something, we need to keep our attention on other things, as well.

This is a conscious awareness that will give our body and our lives the right posture.

Becoming Aware

A good example of becoming aware and being able to surrender, or let go, is when we give attention to our breathing.

When we give attention to or reflect on our breath, we can access powerful information about ourselves.

Let's take a deep breath, and ask a simple question. Without over-analysing, how would we describe it? Our answer may be related to aspects of our breath such as sound, depth, length, rhythm, or texture. Was it shaky? Was it deep and sure? Was it shallow, and quick? Or was it strong?

Now apply that description to the subject in our life that has our attention in that moment. We may find ourselves connecting with images, feelings, or sensations to answer our question. Embrace your own style.

It can be a rewarding experience, if we let our breath teach us to reflect and let go. It is like listening to your soul.

The Art of Surrender

In being able to let go, we are in effect re-balancing ourselves, taking a step back to assess a situation, before things get out of control.

As we need to breathe deeply and move our breath away from the top of the lungs and the throat (where we can feel quite anxious, breathy and stressed) and bring it down into a calm and healing space in our ribcage, we should try and simulate that with our exterior motions.

We should try to be deliberate, mindful, and aware of our actions.

It could help us re-purpose our lives, or our attitudes. Re-committing to being balanced is a powerful process. It's essential to re-commit when you're experiencing something other that what you intended or wanted.

Personally, I re-commit to my resolutions I made at the start of this year every day, because it is hard to stick to them. No one is perfect.

But I take a minute to be still, and to get my self realigned and balanced for the next day. With practice, all it takes is one minute to recommit by surrendering to the day's events - and not struggling to control and shape them if what you have (as we say in Britain) is a square peg in a round hole.

However, this isn't a suggestion to shut off the mind from the problem, rather to redirect it in a way that rests it.

We can rest it in our breath or on a serene scene. We can rest it by focusing it on something different from the regular thought processes we activate. Think of this relaxation as a drink of water, replenishing us and clearing our mind to focus on shifting our attention (using a previous example) to not only the right foot momentarily in the air, but on the left foot, too.

If the director had done that with his crew, metaphorically speaking, he wouldn't have fallen down quite so abruptly as he did.

To stand tall on his own film set, all he had to do was learn the art of surrender and create his own balance to emanate from his actions.

And in that is a lesson for us all.

Read part two.

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