Ease & Surrender Q&A with Carolyn Anne Budgell
August is ‘Ease & Surrender’ month at Mala Collective, which is why we sat down with yoga teacher Carolyn Anne Budgell, who told us all about how important it is to surrender to life's journey, trust and let go.
What do the words Ease & Surrender mean to you?
I took ample time to really think about the quality of these words and the feelings associated with them. I reflected upon how I incorporate these words into my life, how I embody them and realized that the practices of finding ease and surrendering have become increasingly important for my sanity and personal growth over the last few years. Yes, I have taught yoga for 8 years now and have only practiced ease and surrender for the last 4 years!! I think that leading yoga retreats and teacher trainings around the world as well as committing to a lifelong relationship have been my greatest sources of insight into where I need to be more easeful in surrendering.
Back to the point, what the words mean to me – I think softness, I feel water flowing, I feel strength and boundaries in my beliefs yet also the ability to let go when there is truly no other resolution available.
Have you had to surrender yourself to anything new in your life recently?
I had a baby girl in June so I have happily surrendered much of the life I had for our new little cutie. Any other parents reading this will understand: surrendering my schedule, my sleep, eating, clean clothes, eating in restaurants, going to yoga classes, a sense of self-assuredness, eating slowly…
And you know what? Surrendering has never felt so incredible! To truly let go like this has never felt so freeing. Releasing expectations, the goals that used to be important to me etc etc… to completely release it all has also been uneasy, challenging and uncomfortably spacious, yet so beautiful and informative about what I’m capable of. Complete surrender to our baby’s needs is the most simple thing I have ever done.
What steps do you take when life presents you with a difficult or challenging situation?
It has always served me to write and reflect extensively on the emotions and storms within. I try my best to look at my triggers and wounds, in order to decipher: what I’m holding onto, is this a recurring pattern, am I being overly sensitive etc.. It may seem self-absorbed but part of my life’s work is to be less reactionary in the face of challenges. As a teacher once said “life and spirituality is simply learning how to cope with our emotions” and I fully agree with this sentiment. I’m interested in the tough stuff: coping with emotions to perpetuate constant growth. I surround myself with people who hold me accountable and who are balanced. I turn to them for counsel and wisdom as well as looking within. My teachers have been the sweet saving grace in my painful times; in particular my first meditation teacher and my therapist.
What are the benefits of surrendering yourself fully to whatever life throws at you?
I’m able to soften my outlook and my words. I don’t worry as much about what I should be doing or who I should try to be like (these worries are hard patterns to surrender, my ego really loves them!). When I surrender into what is right in front of me, I laugh more and can remember to breathe a little deeper. My lens really sharpens to the heart of the matter and the present moment.
What are some of your favourite mantras for letting go?
- “Look and see, let go and be free” (If you attend a meditation workshop with me, we will most likely explore this mantra in silence).
- On the inhale think “let” and on the exhale think “go”.
- Most simply and most practiced by me is just deep breathing. I like to lie on my back, set a timer for 15 minutes and take expansive, clearing breaths the whole while. I emerge from this practice feeling lighter.
Do you ever teach the power of ease & surrender in your yoga classes? Describe how it works.
For me, it is a very subtle message to offer to others and really, they will only fully embrace it once the timing is right and once they realize how powerful and necessary ease and surrender are for healing. There are so many ways to convey this through a yoga class: with movement, with breath or with mantra/meditation.
Either asking students to hold a pose for a very long time and bringing in more ease and relaxation, or flowing through an organic sequence at their own, easeful pace, keeping the breath easeful throughout practice (rather than taxing/darth vader breath) or sitting at the end of class for a long meditation to reflect upon something that needs to be surrendered in their lives.
When feeling disconnected, how do you like to reconnect?
I reconnect by remembering that disconnection is part of the whole process, you cannot have one without the other. I write and remind myself to let go of all the ways I judge myself for becoming disconnected in the first place. Judgement only propels the disconnection further…
And of course I do all the obvious activities: spend time alone to just be with myself and the phase I’m in, spend time with close friends to remember the joy of soulmates, spend time in nature to feel grounded and simplicity at its best, travel to satiate my appetite for learning….
Carolyn Anne Budgell (BA, ERYT 200, Kula 75, Prenatal Yoga) teaches vinyasa yoga and meditation from a down-to- earth, real-talk and lighthearted perspective in Vancouver, BC. Carolyn discovered yoga in Whistler in 1999 and now leads international Yoga Teacher Trainings and workshops with Wanderlust Festival and Lila Vinyasa School of Yoga, is passionate about finding stillness through her organization Calm Rebel Meditation Community and offers free online yoga classes as a proud ambassador for lululemon.
** Check out tons of goodies on her website. Travel with her to beautiful Mexico for a very special retreat in Sayulita at Haramara Resort from Nov 12-19, 2016 or sign up for a transformative Yoga Teacher Training in BC beginning in Nov 2016! **