“Yielding is the way of the Tao”
2nd line of Verse 40, Tao Te Ching
I like to go to the creek near my house after a rare event of rain and watch the water rushing by. I notice the reedy plants at the water’s edge. They bend over from the intense force of rushing water- often lying almost completely flat. Think how futile it would be for them to become rigid and try to remain upright- they would most certainly be broken by the powerful force of the water. I also notice that once the water has calmed, the reeds bounce back up and flourish. I try to practice being more flexible like those yielding reeds to help me weather life’s challenges and the unexpected turns away from how I believe my life should be unfolding.
Sometimes though, my first response to unexpected events is to dig in and resist this unexpected twist. I might grumble about what is happening and jump into searching for a way to change things back to the way they “are supposed to be”. I am learning that when I become rigid and resistant to change, life feels even harder. My fear blocks my ability to intuitively tap into the flow of possible solutions. When my body and mind are rigid, I begin to feel scared…trapped… hopeless.
Tara Brach has an elegant way of describing the benefits of yielding. In her book, Radical Acceptance, she draws from her life and her clients, to show that change is inevitable, but our choices lie in whether or how much we suffer in the face of every change. I especially like her suggestion to visualize “leaning in” to whatever life is bringing you on a given day. Yielding to “what is” means looking it realistically in the eye, rather than escaping into your favorite form of distraction; denying what’s happening; or puffing up and raging at the change and getting caught in a web of anger or resentment.
Yielding does not mean allowing others to take advantage of you, or that you do not move towards improving life’s conditions. It means slowing your process down to see clearly, to yield, and to notice. This allows you to better cope with what is happening and to open your awareness to new possibilities. You don’t waste your energy avoiding or resisting new circumstances that are beyond your control. You are fully present and thus more able to make wise choices of what to do next.
“…we must live in the present moment and accept what that moment brings. If we become angry, resentful, or dive into a fantasy we lose synchrony with the moment and cannot make an appropriate response”
Yogi Bhajan, Master of Kundalini Yoga