In my own life, I have discovered that surrender can offer an invitation to embrace life more fully by deepening our trust and awakening our sense of acceptance.
I would venture that for most of us the term ‘surrender’ is synonymous with giving up or conceding defeat. Surrender is often viewed as the last option; the place we land when there is simply no other choice. But in my own life, I have discovered that surrender can offer an invitation to embrace life more fully by deepening our trust and awakening our sense of acceptance.
Surrender means different things to each of us, at different times in our lives. Depending on our definition and our circumstances, surrender might mean an invitation to embrace what is, or to let go of resistance, or it might mean to stay open to the unknown and stop grasping at potential outcomes. Also, at times, surrender might simply be calling us to relax more into the moment.
We let grace infuse us, and learn to take small steps as we begin to shift our orientation towards surrender.
Surrender can become a path into more lightness, joy and gratitude in our hearts and in our daily lives. But how do we learn to live the way of surrender? We let grace infuse us, and learn to take small steps as we begin to shift our orientation towards surrender.
Surrender found me during a time in my life when I was experiencing intense loss and grief from infertility, my sister’s death from cancer, and chronic insomnia. During that time, my husband and I visited the Abbey of Gethsemani, a Trappist monastery in Kentucky. It was there, in the profound silence of the monastery that I first began to hear the call to surrender. As I joined the monks in their daily community prayer schedule—praying seven times a day, from morning vigils at 3:15 a.m. to evening compline at 7:30 p.m.—I began to feel a palpable sense of the beauty and freedom of surrender.
Our week at the monastery soon came to a close, and it was time to go home. I somehow knew my time there had been a turning point, inviting me to live with more surrender, embrace my sense of loss, and connect with more hope, faith, and the power of love.
I was determined to find peace. Even though it was a struggle at times, I knew deep down that the awakening of surrender in my heart was a gift and a grace. Eventually, my husband and I ended up not being able to conceive, and through surrendering and finding more inner clarity and peace we decided not to have children. I also learned to handle my insomnia with more trust, and shift my attitude to one of gratitude for the sleep and rest I did receive each night.
Seven Ways to Practice Surrender Today:
- Practice patience with whatever is occurring—ask yourself if you need to back off from putting pressure on yourself or a situation you are handling, right now.
- Seek moments of solitude and silence—practice mindful breathing throughout the day by stopping and taking three deep breaths at your desk, in between phone calls or meetings, or before you get out of the car to go to work, the gym, or the grocery store. Have faith that small moments add up.
- Suspend judgment of yourself and others—be kind to yourself and those around you. A simple practice is to smile more, and to allow a soft and sincere smile to change your entire energy. Throughout the day, smile at yourself and others with gentleness.
- Relax your body when possible—notice if your jaw is tight, and release it; notice if your shoulders are hunched up towards your ears, and drop them; and notice when you’re leaning forward in your chair, and sit back.
- Be grateful for all the little things—a cup of tea, comfortable shoes, a poem or a prayer, or helpful words from a friend.
- Stay in the present moment—ground yourself by focusing on your feet and asking: Where am I, and What am I doing?
- Meet your resistance with an open heart—Oh, there’s my resistance. And then ask yourself: What’s the invitation here for surrendering?
Within each day is an invitation to embrace surrender and open up to more joy and gratitude in big and small ways. Surrender is a grace and a choice we can make every day.
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I’ve heard and read a lot about surrender. It’s one of those things that Im not sure I fully understand. I think it may only be known when you have done it. Then you don’t know for sure how you did it. These days Im very alert to jargon that is thrown around in our new “enlightenment” language. Much of it sounds good but when I stop and think about it I really have no idea what their talking about. “Let the light in.” What does that mean? “Be in the Now.” Sure, OK. It’s not meant to make fun of people but at the ripe old age of 74 I’m beginning to see how much of my spiritual work has been based on parroting what the “experts” of the day are saying with very little understanding about how to pull it off. Our Self Help market today is drowning in concepts… How does a Rose Open? The truth is no one knows. It just does, when it’s ready. I’ve had to learn to stick with what is simple, doable and leave the results to One greater than me. Gratitude, Blessing others when I can, letting not understanding be okay, Progressive muscle relaxation, easy and doable, life and issues not so intense when I Practice this. I practiced staying in the Now for a while, no past or future. You can’t do it. There may be some who can achieve some degree of it, and it’s not a bad thing, but my guess is that on a large scale it isn’t doable on any consistent basis. Which set people up to fail. I do like very much the “Keep it Simple”, Learn to be kinder and gentler to self and others, forgive yourself when your cranky, never mind trying to understand everything. Some things aren’t understandable here and now anyway and that’s OK. I love to here a bird singing in the morning as much as anyone, can we just listen, say thank you, and move on with our day without analyzing the wonder of it to death? Maybe the modern day plague is over-thinking everything. The title of my quest now is, KEEP IT SIMPLE, just keep it simple. I’d write a book about it but that isn’t simple.☺️
People fear surrender. Sometimes people fear the silence, cannot afford it. People might need to hear themeselves and accept that silence can lead to peace through handling their negative thoughts. No thing in life is easy to overcome but we should never forget that we have the power to listen ourselves and live on the here and now. Thank you very much indeed for this great article!
Wonderful post! I practice surrender daily as a woman living with chronic illness. For years I fought my condition and obsessed about it…trying to cure myself. I lost all emotional serenity and lost many years that I could have been LIVING versus simply existing.
By letting go, I have not given up hope and certainly will never stop trying new things to make my life easier, but I no longer make it my primary goal. God willing I have a lot of life to live, and I don’t want to waste anymore time complaining about my situation and trying to change something that I cannot change.
By surrendering, I have MORE freedom and, most importantly, I have found true happiness.
Thank you for your beautiful words!
Thank you Lauren for your honest witness.
I need to hear the same concepts with the same words and new words frequently. I suspect males (or yang personality types raised in yang cultures) need to stop, look and listen long enough to read these words and let them penetrate.
The cello has been a good teacher to me, though after years of practice, I still have “bad” practice days. But who cares when the point of music is to feel a little joy, do a little dance, and glorify the One. It can be hard to remember, amidst all the “practicing”, to let go and let the music happen.
A huge YES! to that.
I agree that surrender, in its highest form, is opening to Life because Life is Love and Life is Light.
The Non-reflected light as it is so eloquently pointed to in to-days ‘Word of the Day’ …”How did the rose ever open its heart and give to this world all of its beauty? It felt the encouragement of Light against its being; otherwise we all remain too frightened.” HAFIZ, ( TRANSLATED BY DANIEL LADINSKY ) Hafiz confirms the Rose , ( not the physical rose which can be touched with the corporeal hand) and the intelligence(s) which create and maintain what the is behind the name, “Rose”, is the very “how” in Hafiz’s teasing question.
That light is the very same light which which originated the “Rose” and its observed beauty is the true indication or its surrendering itself to itself. ( As Rumi say “I run from you to you).
Only human’s egoism has a difficultly with this truth because its habit is to preserve its identity as something separate from its Life-Love-Light origin.
As an Essene Christian and Researcher of Truth we too want to surrender courageously to our source, the Spirit-Soul-Self and consciously BE it rather then its reflection. We have many practices which are use to tame that egoism and convert it into a cooperating servant of Life-Love-Light.
One is the Seven Promises we make to yourself each day …all day long.
1) To serve, at all times and in all places, Absolute Beingness to whom I whole heartedly belong.
2) To be ready, at all times and in all places to serve the Divine Plan.
3) To make good use of the Divine Gifts of thought and word at all times, in all places and under all circumstances.
4) To endure patiently, without complaining, all forms of trials and tribulation which the most wise Divine Law may bestow upon me.
5) To love and serve my fellow human beings sincerely from the depths of my heart and Soul no matter what their behavior may be towards me.
6) To meditate and to contemplate daily Absolute Beingness, with the objective of total coordination of my thoughts, desires, words and actions with Its Divine Will.
7) To investigate and check every night whether all my thoughts, desires, words and actions are in absolute harmony with the Divine Law.
And secondly …to surrender to the courage ( the true power) of the Spirit-Soul-Self by asking the egoism of the Present-Day-Personaliy… when it is to tired to defend itself anymore these six questions.
What did I think or feel that I should not have thought or felt?
What did I not think or feel that I should have thought or felt?
What did I say that I should not have said?
What did I not say that I should have said?
What did I do that I should not have done?
What did I not do that I should have done?
Thes question are not intended to be masochistic, only the egoism would see it that way, it is indeed the Rose of Spirit-Soul-Self acknowledging that it and the temporary egoism of the present-day-presonality, (the “thorn” IOW) ARE one.