chocolate

Relax…nothing is under control

When things get out of control, sometimes surrendering to the temptation of the chocolate box might be the right thing to do! By Victoria Jackson

I had a chocolate the other day — or it might have been two. It (or maybe they!) was not just any old chocolate. It was the expensive sort where you get a small number of treats delightfully presented in a fancy box. The whole experience felt very decadent, but because they were dairy-free they were perhaps actually more virtuous than any other chocolate.

In fact, these chocolates were so virtuous that they offered me a life lesson alongside a burst of chocolatey yumminess. There was a little card inside the box with a message on it. It said: ‘Relax — nothing is under control’.

I practically choked on my chocolate when I read this. I love things being under control! It’s how I get through my days. I live with the illusion that I’m making all the choices, I’m calling the shots, I’m the one in control.

Of course, I know it’s not quite that simple; the coronavirus pandemic has taught us all that. This microscopic virus caused total mayhem for the whole human race. Unless you’ve been living as a hermit in a remote cave these past two years, I challenge anyone to emerge unchastened by the experience of lockdowns, social distancing and vaccinations. Even my control-freak tendencies and my advanced skills in organisation and planning have been no match for this situation.

But even without a pandemic, although I might like to pretend my life runs on rails, yoga is always there to teach me otherwise.

It’s not just that trying to learn a challenging asana throws up surprises; it’s not even that teaching yoga is always a lesson in ‘expect the unexpected’. On a deeper level, yoga is all about letting go of the control.

If I translate the message in the chocolate box into yoga philosophy terms, I come up with Isvara Pranidhana. This can be one of the trickiest concepts for many western yoga practitioners — second only to Brahmacarya (celibacy) perhaps!

Isvara Pranidhana is often translated as Surrender to God. I interpret this for my own understanding as surrendering to the unknown or to the great mystery of life, in a word — faith. What is faith? It is learning to live with uncertainty, to accept (if not quite embrace!) the idea that nothing is under control.

As I contemplated these ideas, my hand might have strayed again into the chocolate box for a second (or is it now a third?) chocolate treat. Faith is hungry work. I surrendered to the need for some extra calories to help me along the way!

Victoria Jackson lives and teaches yoga in Oxford. Visit: victoriajacksonyoga.com or find her on Instagram @victoriajacksonyoga

Om Magazine

First published in November 2009, OM yoga magazine has become the most popular yoga title in the UK. Available from all major supermarkets, independents and newsstands across the UK. Also available on all digital platforms.