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  • Writer's pictureC.S. Smith

Ishvara Pranidana (Surrender)

Ishvara Pranidana is a yogic term that means surrendering yourself to a higher power. My yoga teacher, Greg, begins each class with what he calls a “yoga chat,” where he takes a yoga concept and applies it not only to our practice but to our everyday life. Each week, his lesson always seems to speak directly to something I am grappling with at that moment. When I mentioned that to Greg, he told me our minds seek out connections, and that is why each lesson seems to speak to me. Or maybe it is that higher power at work, tapping me on the shoulder. I’ll leave it to the scientists and theologians to fight over the answer.

When most people think of the term “surrender,” they think of giving up as an act of losing. But surrender can also mean to give up control to something or someone else and trusting that you will be gaining something in the process. I’ve been working on a course called Purposeful Writer: Discovering Your Story, by Laura Baker (, in an effort to identify where I am falling short in my writing. I would argue that the first few lessons are more lessons in psychology than writing. Two of the questions in Lesson Two, “What do you need to say” and Why do you need to say it?” required some profound (and not always comfortable) introspection. But it was eye-opening. Why do I read romantic and paranormal suspense books? Why am I drawn to badass alpha males, often with a profound trauma in their backgrounds, who are redeemed by the love of a strong woman? Why do I want to write the same kinds of stories and characters? My emotional motivator, the recurring theme that jumped out at me came down to this: FEAR of loss: of control, of safety, of acceptance. For someone always in control, the fear of surrendering that control can be profound. There is that word – surrender. What would it take for someone who is used to controlling everything in their environment to surrender that control? What in their background made them need to be in control in the first place? What role does love play in pushing them to surrender, to gain something (love) in return?

When I look at the characters I have written, fear is their motivation and why they need to be in control. Fear of betrayal, fear of losing their independence. That fear jeopardizes their chance at love. Now that I understand me better, I can understand what motivates my characters better and make them more three dimensional. Another lesson learned on my journey.

Surrender. Not to lose something, but to gain something.

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