Isvara Pranidhana

Let it be whatever it is.

The Beatles swept the world by storm 50 years ago when they appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. In their first set, they played “All My Loving” and “She Loves You,” and Paul sang “‘Til There Was You.”

Ed Sullivan read a telegram on the air from Elvis Presley congratulating them on their American debut.

Six years later, they recorded a new song written by Paul McCartney, “Let It Be.”

This song holds deep meaning for me. It seems to come into my consciousness at times when I need comforting. It’s helped me as I’ve come to terms with pain in my life and learned to let it go.

In his book Light on Life, Mr. Iyengar interprets Isvara Pranidhana as “Surrender; letting it be whatever it is.”

In yoga, this is considered an active practice like Tapas (Applying your self) and Svadhyaya (Investigating your own experience).

I’ve always struggled with the concept of letting go. Holding on tightly seems to come more naturally to me.  I became aware of my need to let go a long time before I was capable of actually doing it.

At that time I thought to myself, “I can’t let go. But I am willing to be willing to let go.”

That was the best I could do. Sometimes it still is.

Here are some ideas you might use if you are considering letting things be:
Visualize something that represents the concept of letting go.  Conjure up your own image in your mind that feels like surrender or letting go to you. Sometimes I visualize water flowing freely in a river, a sailboat floating on the water, or a blue sky with fluffy clouds. This works for me. Experiment to find your own image that facilitates the thought of surrender. If I get stuck, sometimes I look online for images or find something in a magazine or book.

Focus on your exhalation. When you breathe out, you are literally letting go of your breath. And you don’t even have to try and do it. Your body has an intelligence all its own that makes this happen! Close your eyes and watch your exhalation just happen. With each out-breath, let go of your breath (and anything else) you no longer need.

Clean out a drawer or pocket. This is a practical step for the pragmatic people out there. If imagery feels a little woo-woo to you, then this is something you can do. Find a place where there is too much clutter, and clean it out.

Cleaning out my purse helps me clean out my mind. If I’m not paying attention, my bag becomes a bottomless pit of receipts, old Starbucks sugar packages, pennies, bobby pins, used tissues, yikes!

If I’m in a dither over something that I can’t control or fix or change, sometimes the best I can do is organize a small area of my life like my pocketbook or wallet. There is something about being able to affect change on a physical level.  You can see a before & after, and realize that you have power to create change, however small. So maybe you can’t whip every problem into shape, but there are things you can do to shift your experience.

It is important to know that there is no obstacle, emotion or inner state that is beyond the influence of “letting it be whatever it is.” Whether you are performing a straightforward job like cleaning your house or facing the daunting task of a tough conversation, you can listen to your true intuition and connect to your higher self.

It may not be comfortable or perfect. In fact, it  probably won’t be either of these things.

But, Iyengar says that when one practices Isvara Pranidhana (letting it be whatever it is) that “grace pours down upon [him] like a torrential rain.”

And I vote for grace every time.

Happy Valentine’s Day!