Thursday, April 15, 2010

So what comes next?

So, we come to the end of the niyamas with Ishvara Pranidhana - self surrender, or surrender to the Divine. TKV Desikachar, in Heart of Yoga, defines it as "[p]aying more attention to the spirit in which we act and looking less to the results our actions may bring us." When we bring the intention of the yamas and niyamas to our actions, from ahimsa (nonviolence), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (nonstealing), Bramacharya (dedication to the path), Aparigraha (nongrasping), Saucha (Purity), Santosha (contentment), Tapas (austerity), all the way to Svadhyaya (self-study), we can let go and surrender to the Divine, the Universe, the knowing that life will work itself out. How fitting that I write about this today (of course).

Last week, we finished our yoga teacher training program. I have no teaching gigs lined up, but boy do I have some ideas about starting my own yoga-lawyer business! I am still waiting to hear about whether I will receive the Fulbright (though I should know soon), so I have no idea whether I will be spending 10 months in New Zealand studying family law. No matter what happens, I'm not positive what I will do in August when my current job ends. For the first time in my life, however, I know life will work out. I will find a way to teach yoga to lawyers, then expand it to other professionals who need yoga for the physical benefits, but far more for its other benefits. I will find work. Life has a way of working out when we bring the right intentions to it.  For example, I have witnessed people in my life who hoard money and end up losing it all. I have watched people give and give, only to continue receiving. Just like dogs can smell fear, I think that people can as well, and those who want to prey on others "smell" that fear and take advantage. Our intentions in life are, therefore, guiding the outcomes that we cannot control.

Therefore Ishvara Pranidhana is the pinnacle of the first two limbs of yoga, the yamas and niyamas. It is what we can do once our intentions are set by living the other nine yamas and niyamas. Of course, it is no easier than the others, as we have previously explored them. It is scary, really scary. Society, especially for lawyers, teaches us that we should be in control. Or we go to the other extreme and just follow along, without really understanding why. That is "safer" than the surrender described by Ishvara Pranidhana, but it does not help us live our lives to the fullest. Following others is easy, and it is safe like sitting on your couch all day, never getting up for fear of what the world holds. Yoga, once again, guides us to the balance between the two and provides the stepping stones for how to reach it.

With Ishvara Pranidhana there is the intention created by the yama and niyama steps before the surrender. We give each situation our best and let go of the outcome. In other words, we are here for the journey, not the destination. The destination will be what it is, and whatever that is, it is perfect. As I have said many times, the universe has a funny way of working out. It's pretty easy to see how this relates to lawyers and other professionals. When we do our best, bring our best selves to our work, the outcome will be what it needs to be. This allows us to let go of whether we win or lose a case, and helps us to see the best outcome for everyone. Perhaps it is not worth spending $100,000 in attorney's fees to get a $20,000 jury verdict. When we are only outcome-oriented, we might miss that, but when we focus on our intention in each action, we can rest assured that the correct outcome will become apparent to us.

So, with this, I surrender to the universe . . . at least for today. Each day is a new struggle, not only to have the intention with our actions, but to trust that life will work out. It goes back to the age-old question - do we have free will? I think this helps answer it - yes and no. We have the free will to bring the right intentions to our actions, to our lives, but we simply cannot control for every variable, and there is some deeper energy that helps guide the outcomes of our actions. Of course, if you just sit on your couch, you are going to get a very different outcome than if you go out into the world and do what brings you to your highest self. Once you are there, how can you go wrong, right? (If only it were always that easy!)

I have no idea what these next few months hold for me, but I appreciate all of you who have helped me find my way here. I can honestly say that I am excited no matter what happens, and I hope to continue sharing about the yoga-lawyer-modern world connection with so many of you. May our interactions help guide us all to our highest selves and our best intentions and may we surrender our need for a particular outcome.

Blessings and Namaste!


  1. I think this helps answer it - yes and no. We have the free will to bring the right intentions to our actions.

    Cool Life

  2. @ milakunis: Thank you so much. I think you are absolutely right!