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Daily Om Thursday 


Control: Letting The Curves Take You

Trying to maintain control in this life is a bit like trying to maintain control on a roller coaster. The ride has its own logic and is going to go its own way, regardless of how tightly you grip the bar. There is a thrill and a power in simply surrendering to the ride and fully feeling the ups and downs of it, letting the curves take you rather than fighting them. When you fight the ride, resisting what’s happening at every turn, your whole being becomes tense and anxiety is your close companion. When you go with the ride, accepting what you cannot control, freedom and joy will inevitably arise.

As with so many seemingly simple things in life, it is not always easy to let go, even of the things we know we can’t control. Most of us feel a great discomfort with the givens of this life, one of which is the fact that much of the time we have no control over what happens. Sometimes this awareness comes only when we have a stark encounter with this fact, and all our attempts to be in control are revealed to be unnecessary burdens. We can also cultivate this awareness in ourselves gently, by simply making surrender a daily practice. At the end of our meditation, we might bow, saying, “I surrender to this life.” This simple mantra can be repeated as necessary throughout the day, when we find ourselves metaphorically gripping the safety bar.

We can give in to our fear and anxiety, or we can surrender to this great mystery with courage. When we see people on a roller coaster, we see that there are those with their faces tight with fear and then there are those that smile broadly, with their hands in the air, carried through the ride on a wave of freedom and joy. This powerful image reminds us that often the only control we have is choosing how we are going to respond to the ride. ~Madyson Taylor, Daily Om

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From the moment we wake up, we are faced with choices. Some, like whether to brush our teeth or what’s for breakfast, are no-brainers, and, for most of us, do not arouse any fear or anxiety. One after another, we choose between options without raising the specter of control. Wouldn’t it be a joy if all of life choices were so easy?

Inevitably, a choice arises that may be a life changer. Be it, whether to end a long-term relationship that you’ve outgrown, or to leave a job that you abhor, to begin that career you’ve always dreamed of, the choice renders us unable to decide. Often fear of the unknown is the impediment, and we are under the mistaken belief that our task is to make the better of the two choices. In other words, we are trying to control the outcome. Unfortunately, in many cases, either choice has its risks and benefits and the unknown is the governing factor. No amount of lists or mind mapping is going to change those facts. 

Trying to maintain control is like trying to grasp the wind in our hands. It is a futile effort that is only likely to bring unwanted frustration, suffering and pain. Our innate nature is to go with the flow, surrendering to what will be. Even a small child, tries to wrestle away when their parents try to exercise control over them. As we grow older, life fools us into thinking that we have control, until the unexpected happens and we are hit with the realization that our sense of control was only illusory.

We are not subjects in a scientific experiment in which each facet of our lives is a controlled factor. In reality, our lives, our choices are unbound mysteries that cannot be harnessed. In spite of our attempts to plan for any eventuality, life will most certainly remind us that at its core, it is uncertain and filled with surprise. What are we to do?

The other option is to surrender. It is a word that goes against our need for control. It requires letting go of our need for certainty, and to embrace vulnerability. Opening ourselves to the state of being vulnerable takes courage, because it removes any illusion of control. Instead, we grow to let go of the “need to know,” in favor of allowing life to unfold before us, with all of its magic and unforeseen opportunities. With this said, there are instances when the choice may require thought, planning and deliberation, yet, the outcome is the same — unknown. Risk permeates all of our choices, and acknowledging those risks, makes life that much easier to accept.

So, when faced with a difficult choice, do your homework, and instead of following your thinking mind, listen to your heart. Undoubtedly, the unknown is scary, but in spite of the ever-present risks, knowing that you made a choice that aligns with your highest, true self, brings a sense of relief, and whatever the outcome, you have the strength to face it.

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