have two little words for you. Small words to be sure, but nevertheless powerful enough to quite literally change your life. Here they are: “as is.”
“As is” is a potent reminder of the nature of things—and of the power we all have to purge our lives from much of the optional misery we inadvertently churn up day in and day out. It goes like this:
If you wish to find happiness and joy, you must do it with the world “as is.”
If you wish to drop into a place of great self love and acceptance you must do it with yourself “as is.”
If you wish for healing and peace to come over the world you must stop making war against things and embrace them “as is.”
Why? Well it’s simple really. “As is” is the nature of the world.
In each and every moment, things are as they are, and no matter what we may do—whether we like, hate it, protest it, or embrace it—each moment remains incontrovertibly “as is”…at least for the moment.
With this obvious, yet oft ignored truth as our guide, it becomes clear that as each moment our lives presents itself “as is”, we are given a choice—a choice that has rather significant consequences. We can either:
1. Go to war with the moment “as is”—and create relative angst, friction, and irritation.
2. Make peace with the moment “as is”—and experience relative ease, relaxation, and harmony.
But no matter what your choice, it’s helpful to remember you’ll still wind up with the moment “as is” either way. “As is” ala carte or with a healthy helping of angst and misery on the side. It’s up to you.
Thus, if you’d like to be as happy and fulfilled as possible, and more important, if you’d like for that experience to happen now, it means you’re left high and dry with but one solitary option: to make peace with the moment in all its “as is-ness.”
Now don’t get me wrong. Making peace doesn’t mean that you like the moment, nor does it mean that you sanction or support it. Not at all.
In the moment you find your car sideswiped by a texting motorist, you don’t become an advocate for car crashes, twisted metal, or texting while driving. Instead you simply realize that for this moment you’ve been sideswiped, in this moment your car has a boo-boo, in this moment you’re in need of a tow—and you relax with it all.
And so it goes with all the other moments of our lives—high and low.
Of course, this is not to say that you can’t go to war with the moment. It’s your absolute right to do so. But choose war and you must pay the price in the form of the optional angst, frustration, and despair it creates. What’s worse, you’ll still get the moment anyway, just with a side of the optional misery you ordered up.
The upshot of all of this hullabaloo is that in any given moment, with all of its glorious “as is-ness,” while you cannot make it any better than it is, you most certainly can make your experience of it worse—quite a bit worse, it turns out. Just by going to war with it.
For anyone who has been paying attention to how the world works, this is all pretty obvious stuff. And yet, despite this most obvious of facts looming before us, a staggering number of us continue to choose to go to war a dizzying number of moments in our lives.
Despite the decidedly negative consequences. Despite the fact that it does nothing to change the moment.
So why, then, do so many of use choose for war (and the attendant optional irritation and misery that comes with it) with such confounding consistency?
Well, it’s a complicated situation, and of course, there are many different factors at work. Even so, it does seem that this ill-fated choice can be all too often attributed to a single misunderstanding: the relationship between the concepts of Will and Surrender.
Will and Surrender are two key concepts in yoga—and understanding how they work together can unlock great peace and ease in our lives.
Will, as you might imagine, points toward our ability to influence the world. We use our Will to get an education, to make good decisions, to define and pursue goals. Surrender on the other hand refers to our ability to relax with what comes—even when what comes looks a far cry off from what we wanted.
Will: doing and accomplishing. Surrender: relaxing and receiving.
The trouble is that these two concepts sound as if they are diametrically opposed to one another. Will is the opposite of Surrender and vice versa. It’s a conundrum that seems to leave us with a kind of “either/or” choice to make.
EITHER I use my Will to doggedly pursue my goals and make my life better, OR I Surrender and make peace with the moment but at the cost of becoming a kind of human doormat.
Said in this way, the choice for Will is obvious.
But yoga teaches us that there is an alternative.
According to yoga, despite their seemingly opposing natures, the concepts of Will and Surrender when used together in equal measure can yield great benefit. Rather than an “either/or” choice, yoga asks us to experiment with an “and” strategy.
It’s like this:
Failed your law school admissions test? Make peace with the fact that you failed AND simultaneously continue to study to do better next time.
Been sideswiped by a texting driver? Make peace with your damaged car AND simultaneously pledge to educate the public about the dangers of texting.
Receive a cancer diagnosis? Make peace with the disease AND simultaneously do everything within your control to regain your health.
In this way, with Will and Surrender working together side by side, we cultivate a calm and healthy relationship with each moment, while simultaneously charting a course for better, happier life.
So by all means, reach for your goals in all their glory, but don’t forget about the inherent “as is-ness” of each moment all along the way—unless you want an unnecessarily bumpy ride.
About the author - Eric Walrabenstein is a speaker, writer, and nationally-renowned teacher of yoga and mind-body sciences. An ordained Yogacharya, Eric is founder of Yoga Pura in Phoenix, Arizona, and has trained well over a thousand yoga and meditation teachers over the past 25 years.
In addition to his work at Yoga Pura, Eric has helped thousands of our troops and veterans heal from post-traumatic stress with his BOOTSTRAP yoga stress-management program and is now working to combat the addiction crisis with a new yoga-based approach to recovery called BrightLife.
Eric’s work has been widely featured in the media including on ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, SUCCESS Magazine, and Yoga Journal.