There’s a book I love that’s titled The Surrender Experiment. Lately, life has felt like just that. In two ways: one by kicking my ass and forcing me to surrender and, two, finding that when I can I really enjoy it!

When you have a mood disorder of any kind, you aim to control your environment. It’s like, by extension, you can somehow control yourself and your out-of-control inner experience. I struggled with hypervigilence for a looooong time. When I finally calmed this response, I didn’t realize that its underpinnings are control. Pure, irrational, powerful, compulsion for control.

Yoga teaches us about non-attachment. That we can’t derive peace from a seat of constant control. Life’s too unpredictable and our concept of reality far too limited. It’s called aparigraha and actually a foundational step to any path to peace.

One lesson I learned from PTSD is to consider how I’m making a situation harder on myself. When I’m feeling emotional intensity or reactivity to pause and consider “am I doing anything to make this worse for myself? How can I lessen my stress here?” And invariably, especially lately, the answer has been to surrender. More often than not, if there’s nothing I can do about it and I feel out of control and powerless, I get pissed off and try to fight my way through. Do you do that too? I surmise many of us do, especially if we’re fighting to survive an uncomfortable inner state. But it’s precisely this moment of fighting back, of the frustration rising and matters being made worse that we can pause and ask: “am I making this harder on myself?” And if you feel the gunk of those emotions (yep scientific term) you realize your fighting back causes an emotional shit storm that’s worse than what’s happening externally. That’s when you pivot. Surrender.

I feel so much less stress when I do this! I’m even starting to enjoy it and become curious about the new direction life is sending me. What new reality will unfold? I’ll just surrender and see.

Kiara McBain