Even as the bruises and cuts heal on the outside, I don’t know what’s happening in my brain. The inside needs time to heal and recover. And as my cough lingers into its third week, I must recognize that my body is sending signals that it wants me to ease up. This is a lesson I want to heed before I get a stronger signal that sidelines me for even longer.
So, I set an intention to keep my workout really light today. Really light.
In my heart, I know that this does not make me less of a person. It doesn’t make me a quitter. It doesn’t turn me into a person who isn’t willing to work for what she wants.
And, yet …
Seeing other people in the gym pushing hard makes me want to push hard. It is a challenge to keep it easy and light. I want to push my body to its limits and make it stronger. I want to increase my endurance and strength.
In my heart I know that sometimes, the path to greater strength and longer endurance is to slow down. I’ve learned this from my swimming.
I also realize that if I push too hard today I could hinder my recovery. I must give myself time to heal.
I recognize that my desire to push harder is driven by a need to feel significant. My ego wants to say:
Only 3 days ago I was in the hospital after falling and hitting my head. And now look at me: back in the gym, pushing hard. I’m unstoppable. I’m a bad-ass. I’m a warrior! A true competitor!
Ah, the ego. It clutches so tightly. It yearns for significance.
As I observe the feelings and thoughts that come to me, I can see the masculine energy in this. This is the energy that fuels the driven, “Type-A” part of my personality. It tells me to keep going at all costs. It tells me that to stop, or even to slow down, is to show weakness. It tells me that to allow myself to ease up is to allow myself to quit.
It reflects back the messages that I see all around me — the “motivational quotes” in my social feeds, advice from coaches and gurus and mentors and a gaggle of well-meaning peers:
No pain, no gain.
Be relentless in your pursuit.
No days off.
And, yet …
With so much pointing me in that direction — the direction of the masculine energy of pursuit and drive and warriors and competing — I am finding that the real strength comes in allowing myself to pull back.
The ego clutches so tightly. If I don’t break free from it, it will suffocate me.
I’m well-conditioned to lean in. Perhaps this experience is here to teach me to lean out.
What you resist, persists.
Fighting to break free from the ego’s tight grip using “traditional” strength — the masculine energy — won’t work. Any attempt to pry open the fingers of its clenched fist with brute force only serves to tighten its grasp.
To free myself from the clutches of the ego requires a different kind of strength. It requires the feminine energy:
The strength of surrender.
Standing here in the gym as I think about this, I realize that this is like the need to work on my flexibility in addition to my strength. The parallel here is not lost on me: in the gym, I tend to give short shrift to my stretching regimen. It’s an area where I tend to have limited patience, in part because it always feels like I’m “doing nothing.”
One way or another, the Universe is going to force me to stretch more.
The feminine energy is different, but no less forceful, than the masculine energy. Both reside within us, and both must be equally conditioned.
The Gateway to Freedom
Surrender provides the lubricant that allows me to slip out of the ego’s tight vise. Only by learning to surrender can I free myself from the ego’s grasp.
In a strange way, surrender puts me in control. When I learn to surrender, I will no longer need to depend on the ego’s releasing my heart and soul and mind.
True power comes not from building the ego, but from learning to surrender.
Surrender gives me the agility and flexibility to slip through the ego’s clutches.
Surrender sets me free to love, free to serve from the purest place of integrity.
Most important to me right now, surrender sets me free to heal.