Yielding — A Prescription for Relieving our Perceived Sense of Isolation
In Embodyoga®, as in Body-Mind-Centering®, we consider yielding to be a primary movement of both consciousness and the physical body. Yield means to come into an active relationship with something, with anything, that we choose. It is a psychophysical expression of willingness and readiness to enter a relationship and the initial movement into it. Yielding is an active process of personal engagement and interest in our life. It is an act inspired by the creative force of intelligence and its desire to learn, relate, and make connections. The action of yield is supported by our inherent curiosity and desire to communicate and feel part of a whole. To yield is to enter the present moment with open awareness and curiosity.
It is important to differentiate what we mean by the term yield, and what we do not mean. Yielding can be misunderstood as the relinquishment of personal power or agency. This could not be further from our definition. Yielding is an inner expression of the readiness to relate. It involves a quality of attention that happens in a clear state of mind when one is present and aware. The act of yielding opens us to a state from which we can give and receive. It is not about conscious thought, but instead it is about clear and present awareness within any relationship.
To yield does not mean to passively accept. It is not a process of giving up or surrendering to anything, or anyone. Yielding is never a relinquishing of our will, a disavowing of our strength, or an abdicating of our personal boundaries. On the contrary, from our perspective we would argue that the action of yielding to any situation makes us more effective in our actions, no matter what the quality of response required in any a given situation. Yield involves letting go of preconceptions and perceiving clearly. By yielding we place ourselves squarely in position to see what is actually happening in our environment and to determine who we are in relationship to people, things, and events.
Yielding is the most basic developmental movement and lies at the heart of our ability to receive support and comfort. It is a prerequisite to, and creates the environment for, bonding to take place. It underlies our initial bonding with our primary caretaker when we are babies and allows us to receive those first very important comforts of being held and supported. In yielding to this deep comfort, we process it through our whole body-mind. Over time, we learn that it is a reality that we can trust. Obviously, not every young baby receives the love and support that she deserves. This is sad, but it is important to note that even as adults we are still able to learn to yield and receive love and support. There is no expiration date on when we can learn to trust and refine our relationships. There is always time to learn and discover. Revisiting and exploring yielding and bonding can be helpful for many of us.
Yielding to a situation, person, or thing requires the simple process of recognizing what actually is. In recognizing what is, we enter into the present moment. This act of recognition makes us capable of responding to our environment appropriately and in a fully integrated way. It can happen in a nanosecond or can be a process of investigation and inquiry that takes place over an extended period of time.
We always have a choice about whether or not to yield to something. We also have choices about how fully to yield. Yielding, in the way that we are defining it, is the simple action of fully entering and engaging with the present moment no matter what decisions you ultimately make about how to respond. Yielding is not about the outcome; it is about the process.
In order to yield to something outside of us we usually need to be willing to soften the boundaries around ourselves, just a little bit, so that we can receive something else. We allow ourselves to take in information about our environment. We allow ourselves to express and communicate with the world around us and to receive support. Some people need to firm up the boundaries around themselves while others live in an overly permeable body-mind that is constantly overwhelmed by stimulus from the outside. Each of us needs our own prescription for improving our communication with the world and with ourselves. Learning about yielding is investigating and understanding how we communicate and relate at the deepest level.
Yielding offers a window into deeper comfort and relationship. We are able to receive and offer support. When we are in a comfortable enough situation to yield, we may feel able to relax some of our habitual patterns of perception and explore something new. Rather than simply reacting to old patterns of perception, we can inquire into seeing differently. We can open to new possibilities. It’s as easy as that. There can be freedom in coming into relationship with the simplest aspects of our supportive environment: the earth, the air, the water, space, etc. These are not overly complicated relationships. We can explore them in our yoga practice when we know that we are safe. We can learn about how the earth supports us and learn to accept that support. We can learn to sense and feel the movement of the air in our lungs. In yoga asana we have a perfect laboratory for feeling the support of the elements within and around us. Part of the key is to observe them with fresh senses.
Learning to yield when we feel safe softens our movement as well as our minds. This can be explored in asana practice. When our practice is relational, there is a flow of information; communication is happening within our body and in all our interactions. We are involved in giving and receiving. We are active participants in our actions. Our movements reveal a greater depth. They are rich with our personal humanity and expression. All of our movements look and feel more beautiful since they are rising and falling out of relationship with our inner world and the world in which we are moving. Yield is fundamental to all healthy movement. What we commonly say in Embodyoga® is that yield is under every movement. It is the relational underpinning of all movement that unifies action and effect and makes them one smooth event of communication and wholeness.
In learning to yield we learn to let go of many of our strongly held beliefs about how life should be. We need fresh eyes to look into the inner and outer world. We call upon ourselves to drop our preconceptions and try to see reality, rather than the projections of our limited personal ego-vision of the world. Undoubtedly, there is a sense of risk in this process. But without an ability to yield, we tend to be locked inside of ourselves and may be restricted from receiving the nourishment from our environment that is available to us. Letting go of limiting preconceived ideas is tricky, and the ego-mind may have no desire whatsoever to do this. But there are techniques for going underneath the ego’s machinations and contacting deeper levels of awareness that offer more freedom and space. We can learn these techniques when we practice Body-Mind-Centering®, and Embodyoga®.
6 thoughts on “Yielding—Coming into Wholeness and Connection”
So wonderful to read this, Patty. I really had a hard time grasping the concept of yield at first. That funky traffic sign kept coming to mind. And I must say that I actually had an easier time using the word ‘surrender’ to myself–not, as you say, as giving up personal power, but as a way of letting go of expectation. It helped me get to the place of open curiosity, to see where the journey of the moment would take me. All I can say is thank you.
Patty, all that you have written feels so familiar from my childhood. I often would disappear in the woods for hours and feel so much. Fromm moss and lichen to the passing bird, trees I thought would wave to me in greeting before I realized it was the wind blowing softly. I would listen to the earth. I would watch the day turn to night and notice when my body needed more shelter or nourishment. I love the act of yielding in my environment. Yielding with my fellow human is sometimes challenging but I must say it is always interesting.
As I read your wonderful writing, I feel babies releasing their weight into me as I hold them.Their yielding into me allows me to release into them more. One teachers me to yield. I experience again their individual ways of letting go, some struggle before they release and others seem to find it easily. How do I support the struggle more so these hard to comfort babies learn to yield with less tension and crying? Maybe this is how they learn yield…this struggle is part of the process? How do we as Yoga teachers and care givers support yield ? Thanks Patty, for bringing me back to yield.
Great definition, thanks very much for the information.
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