More Thoughts on Surrendering
Richard has Cerebral Palsy, and when I am around Richard I generally find myself taking more responsibility for him than I need to. As a result, I tend to feel uncomfortable and usually don’t enjoy myself. This time, however, I decided to be present for Richard, enjoy myself, and let Richard take care of himself.
About 5am the following morning, while I was meditating in the living room, Richard got up to go to the bathroom. He had to walk through the living room in order to get to the bathroom and as usual, due to his challenging disease, he took his time, walking slowly and stopping along the way to rest. I greeted him and went back to meditating.
On his way back from the bathroom, he stopped by the couch that I was sitting on and though my eyes were closed I knew he was watching me. I told him I was meditating and asked him if he would like to join me. He seemed grateful for the invitation and I taught him how to meditate. Actually, it turned out to be a humbling experience because, Richard, due to his disability, was able to be still and observe for long periods of time.
I felt like I was teaching meditation to a master in stillness that morning. We sat together for several minutes in silence, just two souls meditating together. There were many other instances that weekend that allowed me to enjoy Richard’s company without feeling like I needed to take care of him. I learned that if we are open to what is, without judging and without assuming we know what others are experiencing, we can gain so much from the moment.
Surrender involves letting go of identification with the ego and trusting in a power greater than our self. It is a letting go of trying to control the things that we have no control over, and understanding that no matter how much we plan and try to control life we are unable to predict the outcome.
Surrender involves letting go of old ways of thinking and behavior that keep us from being authentic. Authenticity is a result of accessing the inspiration and intuition that comes from our connection with the Divine
Surrendering tends to come about as a result of being with what is presented in the moment without expectations of, or attachment to, the results. It is about being with the flow of life, doing what we can and leaving the rest.
I have found that there is a process involved in surrendering. Often after many years of blunder, and bruises to our ego, we gradually learn to relax into life and let a Source greater than us take control of our lives. The following is a general idea of how I believe it works.
In the first phase of the process we don’t feel a need to surrender. We get caught up in whatever it is that our ego is identified with, and we don’t really know or even care that there may be another way to be.
We tend to deny that there is a problem, or we blame our problems on others. We all have had self-destructive patterns that we hold onto. They are familiar and seem to provide a sense of security. Unfortunately, in this phase we don’t realize that it is a false sense of security that keeps us from truly living life.
The Higher Consciousness that works through us continues to nudge us to let go and surrender. If we don’t surrender we tend to have nightmares and the message keeps getting louder. This can be very painful as we contract around life. Finally we can no longer deny what is happening as our world collapses around us. Something significant happens that evokes something within us that transforms us. There is a turning point in our lives where we are finally willing to confront our self-destructive behavior. We tend to realize that we need to change and we begin to recognize and appreciate that there is a Higher Power working in our lives.
The great Yogi and spiritual teacher, Yogananda, writes, “ God and His cosmic laws work unfailingly for the benefit of those whose actions are ever in tune, and for the awakening, through suffering, of those who are not true to the divine Self within.”
In the second phase, we are aware to some degree that the way that we have chosen isn’t working but aren’t sure how to do it differently. We resist the change that is needed in surrendering, so we feel contracted, frightened, and tend to control and struggle with life rather than opening to the process.
In examining this resistance, we can see many ways we sabotage ourselves. For instance we tell ourselves we aren’t enough, that we aren’t capable, that we have to do it a certain way and can’t. We tend to be very negative and critical of ourselves.
There is what I call the “not enough syndrome” that inevitably stops us from surrendering. When we believe that we don’t have enough, haven’t done enough, or that we aren’t enough, we have a tendency to contract. When we sit and contemplate this phenomenon, we can see that when we foster negativity such as fear, anger, greed, jealousy, or despair, our minds and hearts are closed and we often feel fatigued and even sick.
Many traditions, as well as many spiritual masters, encourage us to stay present and to trust. The Bhagavad Gita (3:19; 3:25) for instance, advises us not to be attached to the fruits of our actions. I once heard that there are 365 references in the Bible that encourage us not to be afraid, to surrender, and trust in Divine intervention.
I always feel comforted when I hear the Biblical story that Luke tells about when Christ addresses his disciples regarding surrender: “And so I tell you not to worry about the food you need to stay alive or about the clothes you need for your body… Look at the ravens. They don’t plant seeds or gather a harvest; they don’t have storage rooms or barns; God feeds them! You are worth so much more than the birds! It is God who clothes the wild grass—grass that is here today and gone tomorrow… Won’t he be all the more sure to clothe you? Luke 12:24 and 12:27(Holy Bible Good News Translation /GNT)
The story in the Old Testament of Jacob wrestling with an angel (Genesis 31,32) is an interesting metaphor for the process of surrender. Jacob struggles with the angel until he conquers the angel, and then won’t let him go until the angel blesses him. Isn’t it interesting how we, like Jacob, struggle with our issues? It is only when we finally realize that our efforts are not working that we turn and become more receptive to something greater than our ego/mind. It is then that we are blessed and given the grace to surrender.
As with Jacob, when the angel blesses him his life changes, so too, in phase three, as we wrestle with our fears and confront our shortcomings, we too are transformed by Divine grace. We then begin to notice that we are in the flow of life, synchronicities begin to show themselves and we feel inspired. The world may not be different, but we are more accepting, more aware, everything feels right just the way it is. We are more relaxed, joyful, and grateful no matter what happens. We no longer feel like a victim blaming others for life’s problems.
Christina Grof in her book The Thirst for Wholeness, describes what happens when we surrender, “Everything we thought we were—all relationships and reference points, all ego games, defenses, resistances, and denials—collapses. What remains is the essential nature of who we are.”
When we can relax our grip and let go of the struggle of having to do it all ourselves, we can experience the joy of the many surprises that come from the Divine intervention. But, more importantly, surrender enables us to be God’s instrument. The energy that went into trying to control our lives now goes into listening to that ‘still small voice’ and knowing from a deeper level what our purpose is in life.
I would like to leave you with this beautiful quote from Carol Morrow. “No matter what you have known of doubt, fear, or betrayal, you are here today—right where you need to be. Trust the strong thread that ties your life’s moments together. It is spun of Love.”
Love and Peace,
Mary Mohs LVN, MA, RYT,