I think of the element of Surrender as a very specific action of releasing and letting go in the moment when I might be attempting to fully control my surroundings and all outcomes in my life. It is the targeted application of Acceptance, Non-Attachment and Faith at the same time. It is an act of deference and trust in God in the moment.
With Surrender, when I notice a feeling of attempting to control life, I pause and I let go.
I think of Surrender as both a skill and a light switch. It is a skill that can— and should— be developed, and at the same time, once you’ve got the hang of it, it can be as simple as flicking a switch. It is a gentle receptivity to a Divine course of action, without resistance. It challenges you to “Be like a feather.” It is very Yin.
I am again reminded of the phrase: “The meek shall inherit the earth.” This talks about Surrender, that those who fold and bend into Divine will, those who don’t resist it, shall ultimately prevail. Surrender is a softness and receptivity to a Divine course of action.
In that way, it is being “meek.”
Surrender is letting life happen. Surrender is allowance and receptivity. Surrender is ceasing willful resistance to what is happening.
Surrender is NOT a white flag of defeat. On the contrary, it is a display of the utmost Courage; it is listening to the heart, living your Truth without being deterred or made hesitant by possible complications or upsets. Surrender is victory!
When we Surrender, we are surrendering to our Truth. Surrender is a tremendously freeing act. We relax. We sigh. We fall into uncertainty with grace. We find relief. We set intentions and steer with Intuition; then, we let go. We feel confident that we will land where we need to land.
Surrender is a reset button. It switches us away from fearful human control and towards the Divine.
“Surrender is not mere passive acceptance, but is rather to consider everything that happens as coming from God.” -Sri Anandamayi Ma
The Bobsled Ride
I once learned a little about Surrender from a dream, of all places. In this dream, I took a bobsled ride and experienced a moment of Surrender:
I am in a small, picturesque Alpine village. It is nighttime; the sky has a bluish hue. Stars are visible and I can see the moon. The sled driver motions me into the bobsled with authority. The sled is modern; like the kind you see in the Olympics. The driver wears a helmet. His face is not visible. I am stuffed headfirst in the cone-shaped nose of the sled. I am on my back, my arms bunched up towards my chest. It is a narrow space. I feel an increasing speed as the sled jerks ahead in a downward motion.
I have no control. I am breathing hard. I feel claustrophobic. Panic sets in. I can’t move my arms. I feel constrained and turned upside down as we go faster and faster. I hear the blades of the sled cutting through the snow. I hear scattered pings of debris hitting the sides of the sled.
I want out. I can’t breathe. I ask the driver to stop. Please stop. No answer. I am panting. I push outward with my arms, still constrained, held down. My “fight or flight” system is in high gear.
Suddenly an inner voice speaks. “You will be okay,” it says. Instinctively, I take deep in-breaths and slow exhales. I close my eyes. I decide to not fight nor resist but just to be, to let go.
With a new sense of calm, I turn on my belly, hands forward, elbows tucked into my chest like a sphinx. Now I see a small window. The moon lights the snow-covered trail, which is garnished with evergreen trees. I see the lights on inside houses nearby. I see villages in the distance. We are cruising fast…but it doesn’t seem quite as fast as before.
It is such a beautiful night.
I sense that it is my job to lean into the turns that the sled makes. My Intuition guides me. The driver is silent, but still present. A course has been charted and the driver simply steers. I continue to lean in to the pull of each turn.
This leaning and flowing feels natural now. My heart slows its beating as I become in perfect tune with the driver. I am content. I smile softly. I am protected. I enjoy the ride.
The incomparable American poet Charles Bukowski, when asked how one can be as prolific creatively as he was, responded, “Don’t try.” For me, this implies the concept of Surrender, of letting Creativity flow while at the same time not attempting to force it or make it happen. We find Equanimity in this mindset of Non-attachment where Creativity can arise.
Surrender in this way can provide access to so much: Intuition, Wisdom, Non-judgment, and Infinitude as well as Creativity, just to name a few. These attributes are dulled in conditions of control. They flow in conditions of allowance.
With Mindfulness, we track when our mind is in resistance. Our Body will give us cues as well, such as tense muscles.
By letting it go, it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try, the world is beyond winning. –Lao Tzu
With each incremental act of Surrender, we ultimately Surrender to our Truth, to who we are and to our mission of service on Earth. Each incremental Surrender adds to the whole that is us and serves as practice for the ultimate Surrender to our Truth.
On the pathway to our Truth, we feel. We experience emotions. In practicing Surrender, we allow these feelings to be felt instead of being contained, suppressed or denied. We don’t allow them to dominate us; we let them flow. We experience our feelings. We are present with them, again in the spirit of not attempting to contain or suppress them. Surrender allows emotions to exist. They flow and go. We clear them and this clarifies our Truth, step by step.
Much of what we Surrender to or let go of in the moment are self-imposed constraints. These are manifested in the self-talk language of “I must” and “I should,” what famous psychologist Albert Ellis called the act of “musterbation and shoulding all over ourselves.”
With this language, we are tying ourselves to outcomes:
“I must be perfect.”
“I should be liked by everybody.”
“He must do it my way.”
“She should do it this way.”
When we Surrender in the moment, we let all these expectations go. We free ourselves from our own very unrealistic expectations.
We don’t Surrender in a careless manner. We don’t jump out onto a busy street, thinking, “The universe will take care of me and protect me from that oncoming bus.” We use discernment. We set intentions before we let go. Then we mindfully embrace the Divine. When we learn to Surrender in this way, we gain a certain confidence. We can accept uncertainty, let go and trust that we will end up in just the right place. We realize that we are letting go of trying to control the moment and all possible outcomes. This process places our Faith in the Divine order of things, which includes using our Intuition to make sound choices. Any ultimate “mastery” of life ironically comes through embracing the mystery of the moment in Surrender.
Surrender is fundamentally an application of Faith, Acceptance and Non-attachment in the moment. These three elements are its greatest supporters.
Our Intuition, as well as the elements of Courage and Wisdom, will steer us and provide discernment in when and how to Surrender.
With each incremental act of Surrender to a situation and the emotions that come along with it, we ultimately Surrender to our own Truth, to who we are and to our mission of Service on Earth.
Surrender is inherently an act of trust in Divinity and the Divine.
Light, as in Lightness, keeps us less rigid, less controlling and better able to apply Surrender.
Our Bodies tell us, via somatic cues, when we are in resistance to Surrender and when we are caught up in controlling outcomes.
Mindfulness also keeps us aware of when we might need to apply Surrender.
Meditation is a great teacher of Surrender. To achieve a Meditative state, we set the intention and then we don’t try too hard. We let it happen. The actual practice of Meditation builds this skill.
- Meditate. The ongoing practice of Meditation builds the skill of relaxing and letting go into the moment. In order to Meditate, we ultimately surrender to allowing it to happen.
- Walk away from an argument— even if you’re right. This doesn’t mean that you have to admit you are wrong, because if you don’t believe you are wrong then you would not be living your Truth by saying so. Rather, this will enable you to Surrender to the fact that you cannot control the thoughts, words or actions of others. You cannot convince everyone to see eye-to-eye with you. When you see yourself becoming agitated or frustrated, say to yourself or to the other person, “Agree to disagree.”
- Get rid of items you don’t need, and spend less time on pursuits that do not please you or speak to your Truth. Surrender walks hand-in-hand with Non-Attachment. By physically ridding yourself of various items, you are at once conquering your previous attachment to them and surrendering to a live without them. Similarly, by being more conscientious about how you expend your Energy, you at once practice Non-Attachment towards persons or situations that may be harmful to you and Surrender to your inability to control or change these persons or situations.
- Practice Yoga. A physical practice of yoga teaches Surrender. When we Surrender into a pose, we let gravity take effect. If we don’t Surrender in yoga, we get injured and we also don’t really enjoy the practice. Child Pose and Sleeping Swan (Folded Pigeon) are great yoga poses for the practice of Surrender.
- Take a bobsled ride! Practice allowing your body to lean with the force of gravity as appropriate. Note: Practicing in this way on a roller coaster or with the turns of a car work just as well.
My Life Unfolds in Divine Order
I Allow the Universe to Unfold; I Am Not Tied to Outcomes.
I What the Universe Has Planned for Me.
I Know Who I Am; I Open to the Guidance and Healings Powers of the Universe.
I Release the Need for Total Control. I Let Go.