To find more serenity, freedom, connection and support in life, I suggest you engage the spiritual concept of surrender. In today’s society, surrender has so many negative connotations. From giving up in general to conceding in war, the implication is that surrender is a losing proposition. However, the spiritual concept of surrender allows you to hear your inner voice (rather than the voice of ego) and engage a higher power to take the lead. In surrender, we allow life to unfold and we admit we are not truly in control of all of it.
Most people believe in a higher power, however when it comes to acting on that belief, we fall woefully short. As we navigate life on a day to day basis, that higher power falls away and we behave in ways that suggest we are choreographing everything in our lives. When things are good, it is great, when things are bad we need to control, fix, blame, and panic. We forget the higher power and rely on our own strength completely to make our way or keep safe, and most often, become incredibly fearful. All spiritual texts support the concept of leaning on a higher power as its core principle. Yet, we slip into the mindset that we are completely in control of our life’s path.
From the Bible to the Tao te Ching and every spiritual leader in between, the teachings on surrender are plentiful. “Cast your cares on me” in the Bible demonstrates that we are not to control, but rather are supported. Laotzu’s concept that the most powerful resource in the world – water – goes low and yields while it flows. These are just two of many examples. The late philosopher and Buddhist, Alan Watts spoke extensively on letting go of resistance. You may have heard the expression “What we resist persists.” When we are “against” rather than “for” we are operating from a lower level of consciousness. When we are able to accept what is, release control and objectively view situations apart from our fear, we can reduce our suffering and know that we will still be all right even if things are not going as we planned.
Trusting, allowing, and getting into the flow of life are all contained within surrender. Jesus willingly walked his path and confidently allowed it to happen. He did not fight like a modern action hero, but rather demonstrated love and kindness in an age of cruelty. While it ended badly from a human perspective, he is revered throughout the world and among many different religions for his teachings including spiritual surrender.
The energy we expend in resistance, time we spend going up stream, slows us down. Momentum is developed by getting into the flow. We have a negative connotation on the path of least resistance, but dropping resistance is also an act of surrender. What if that which is smooth and easy is the path that has appeared for us? What then; would it be worthy? One thing I love about Tao te Ching (and share it whenever I can), is the concept that plants do not “over do.” They don’t try harder than they need to, to grow. Overwatering doesn’t help, but rather it hurts the plant. More is not necessarily better. So too, we may, on occasion, overdo and ruin something rather than have it blossom in our life. We may squeeze or control something so desperately in an attempt to save it, that we create a self-fulfilling prophecy: creating exactly what we were trying to avoid.
Is there an area of your life that you keep hitting a brick wall, dead end or run into colossal amounts of frustration? Might it possibly be a sign to redirect your course? If you are not sure of the next step, surrender to that lack of knowing by saying, “I don’t know, please lead me to the path.” Also, we do not surrender because it is extremely vulnerable to say “I don’t know.” To actively lean into the unknown and admit we don’t know where the next step is going to take us or what that next step is, may seem wrong but from the perspective of surrender, it is completely right! If we lean into this rather than away, and surrender our control, we make space to hear answers. We can choose to trust that answers will come. Too often we never stop moving, trying, grasping, clinging, and managing frustration and fail to notice all the signs of a new direction amidst all that noise.
Choosing to trust that life is unfolding as it should, even if it is not always the way we would like it, is a spiritual path and one that can offer us tremendous inner peace. We suffer when we try too hard to control what is not ours to control and when we resist what is. What if we leaned into the unknowing for a bit, suspending our ranting that things aren’t going right, and consider the possibility that there is something else for us? Our human selves like to cling and grasp however, our spiritual selves know there is a bigger picture. Tap into that inner knowing through surrender.
I often imagine great inventors doing this after failed experiments or famous political leaders dealing with complicated, life and death situations such as Thomas Edison or Abraham Lincoln. I picture them surrendering to being led; asking for guidance from a higher power; expressing their willingness to be used for the greater good that they so desire.
Emotionally strong people do not simply plow through difficult times. Studies show that although we receive cultural reinforcements all the time that we should ‘never give up’, emotionally strong people step back, reconnect with themselves and their spirituality during challenges. As a coach, one of my favorite teachings is “never give up on yourself” not necessarily never give up the business, the relationship, the control. Be willing to move in the direction you are being shown. This is not giving up on yourself. We ignore ourselves when we think the business, the lifestyle, the relationship is who we are. We are far greater than any of these things are and if they are not working, in fact in some instances hurting us, surrender to its loss and listen for guidance on your next steps. You will find yourself pointed in the direction of what is ‘for’ you.
One of my husband’s favorite sayings is “We make plans and God laughs.” In a spiritual sense, there exists a bigger picture you may not be aware of. I can hear your thought right now. The one saying “Ok, well if I just zoomed into the future and could see it all turn out all right, I’d be okay.” Since we don’t get to do that, perhaps we should imagine it. Actively use your imagination to envision the positive result. Trust that life will unfold in ways that benefit you. Trust that the job loss will lead you to your new career, the failed marriage will lead you to your new love, that devastating loss will allow your soul to grow. This is the higher goal in life. To grow, to learn, and to build meaning and purpose into your life.
What you can do to engage the concept of surrender in your life:
Create stillness. Time in stillness and meditation is time well spent. Your brain needs the rest. Stillness and meditation create space and opportunity to hear your inner guidance.
Learn from nature. Nature has a way of grounding us, humbling us in the most positive way. When we are in awe of nature, we are not demeaned by the thought that it is superior to us; that it existed before and long after us. Rather we are softened by it, calmed by it, and we rest in its embrace.
Use affirmations. A statement that reminds you that you are supported and will receive what you need in the time that you need it is empowering, calming, and engages surrender so that your energy can be spent in useful ways rather than worry, fear, and doubt. Examples of affirming statements are I am fully supported, I am being guided, or This challenge is part of my journey for growth and will be used for my good.
Trust that life is unfolding. Understand that there is a flow of life beyond us and our direction. Allow that flow to run through you. If you find fear stopping your surrender to life’s flow, write down a “fear list” to get fears out of your head. Look at them from a place of distance and find more loving thoughts to replace them. Remember that the ego feeds on problems and wants to feel personal importance in its ability to prepare you for every disaster that may occur. Feel free to say, “Thank you fear, I know where you came from but I am going to lead now, you can follow.”
Reach out for support. Do not rely on your own ego’s power. When in doubt, reach out for supporting resources and make sure you are open to learning. Beware that your ego doesn’t want this and will stand in the way of you learning more that will support you. It wants to be in control. This is why when we are most in need of support we often shy away from any new information. You have the power to reverse this. Bravely step out for your greatest good.
Use imagery. With the same mind that creates alternate negative scenarios, begin to use visual imagery to see things going well. This engages the concept of manifesting as well by giving power to your dreams.
Surrender can bring the most amazing qualities into your life, greatly reduce your stress, and possibly become the doorway through which you will end up living a life beyond your happiest dreams.
In future weeks, we will continue to learn more about mastering our mind, looking inward, and connecting to our truest selves. You are so worth it! Thank you for investing this time in INNERSPACE. If you are interesting in joining the INNERSPACE Facebook Group we would be happy to welcome you!
Kim Perone, Certified Life Coach at The Center for Clarity, Compassion & Contentment serves clients with one-on-one and group coaching and can be reached via email or phone at [email protected], (518) 301-3593.
For more information on life coaching and The Center’s activities, visit www.Center4c.com.