This past weekend I was invited up to Montauk – the lovely tranquil fishing village (which has in recent years become more of vacation destination) at the end of Long Island, NY past the Hamptons. I took the 3-hour train up from NYC, and as I rode I could feel that annoying tickle in the back of your thought that threatens a cold is imminent. By the time I arrived and work up the next morning, I had the sniffles, a headache, and an achy body.
My immediate reaction was to feel embarrassed – as I often feel when I catch a cold. After all- I’m a wellness practitioner and and a teacher of sound-healing! Aren’t I supposed to be an example of shining wellness all the time? I can usually avert colds and flus even through the “sickness” seasons by my adherence to healthy living: eating clean, drinking plenty of water, exercise, meditation, and of course, energy balancing practices utilizing vibration through sound and music. When I do get sick, it’s usually a result of me getting run down: from travel, or not enough sleep, or from overcommitting myself to projects and activities. In the past recent weeks though, I’ve enjoyed an extended vacation away from my New York City base, having just spent many weeks away in a cabin in New Mexico, at the beach in San Diego, and at my family’s home in Denver, Colorado. Hadn’t I just invested heavily in “rest and rejuvenation” time? Then how come one week into being back in New York, my system needs to break down?
I also felt embarrassed about arriving at my hosts’ lovely home in Montauk, being in the early stages of coming down will illness. In my mind, it’s not very nice to be a guest who arrives full of germs to spread all over the house. And of course I wouldn’t be able to take full advantage of some of the actives they’d presented- such as daily bike rides and swimming in the ocean out in the slightly chilly autumn air.
When I expressed my embarrassment to my friend however, she was almost incensed. “Embarrassed? How can you say that?! I’m your friend! I want you to feel good and of course you’re still welcome here! We’re happy to host you and help you feel better!”
It was then that she reminded me of a simple yet profoundly powerful word that was most what I needed to hear in that moment: “It’s time to surrender.”
Ah yes, surrender. I had made the trip, I was feeling the way I was feeling, and there was absolutely nothing I could do but surrender into how I felt. Fighting against feeling sick wouldn’t make me feel less sick. Nor would feeling shame for feeling under the weather.
I went out to the beach by myself that afternoon (all bundled up in a borrowed turtleneck because of the chills I was experiencing) and lay by the ocean, just receiving the sound of the waves and the wind. As my sinuses were congested, my normal vocal toning practice didn’t feel easeful. What felt good and natural was to gently and almost inaudibly sigh, releasing my breath with a touch of vibration, and with each sigh, releasing into surrender. With each voiced exhale, I let go of my ideas of how things were “supposed” to be in that moment, and just surrendered to what is. It felt immensely comforting. I had given up the struggle: the self-criticism, the expectations.
As I surrendered to my breath, my tone, and into the soothing and supportive sounds of nature around me, it became clearer why this body breakdown had occurred at this time. My body’s wisdom told me that the cold was not a result of my not taking care of myself, or even doing too much. But there had been a lot of conflicting ideas and energy within me that had been working themselves out throughout the preceding summer weeks. I was now taking myself back into my faster-paced life in NYC, and needed a bit more integration time to be able to “start up” in the right alignment. So my body decided to “break down” so I’d have a few days to “reboot” and update my internal operating system.
For the four days of my visit, I continued to consciously release the inner struggle. At the same time, I also got real with myself about many things. I asked myself deep questions about what really matters to me. My friend and host also helped me to clarify many things in my life and business that I needed reflection on and offered a valuable outward perspective on what I am currently facing and experiencing.
And so yesterday I went out to the bay side and shot my next youtube video featuring this practice that had been so useful to me in these days: “the sigh of surrender.” I’ll be posting that exercise as soon as I get it edited and uploaded.
I’m now on the train back to NYC, having been kept up most of this last night by fits of coughing. My voice is shaky and my eyes are red. But my soul feels very much at peace. Had I not gotten sick, I could be in a state now where my body feels fit and rested, but my sense is that my inner restlessness would perhaps have caused me to go into negative patterns upon my return home. In the state I’m in now, I know it’s just a matter of days before my body gets back up to speed, yet in the meantime I feel innerly content and at peace. My inner self has been realigned. Surrendering got me to this moment and I am grateful.