Photo Credit: Elijah Hiett, Unsplash
I once had a client tell me: “Everything I’ve ever let go of had my claw marks all over it, and it hurt!” Sound familiar?
Many of us struggle with surrender or letting go because we see it as defeat or giving up. It scares us. We may equate surrender with quitting or failure, yet true surrender ultimately sets us free and empowers us.
True surrender asks us to open our hearts and look beyond our limited attachments. It invites us to let go of things that ultimately cause us pain, so we can embrace higher blessings. It is a transformative practice that we can nurture daily by bringing present moment awareness to our lives: How we think and act, what we choose, and where we place our focus.
Surrender happens in very practical ways of daily life. It’s not some abstract spiritual ideal for holy people, but rather the process of allowing Life Force to move through us and clear out what is no longer beneficial. It is an opportunity to open our hearts and to look beyond our fears, expectations, woundedness and disappointments to the freedom and peace that awaits when we let go of those lesser energies. Letting go is an invitation to reach beyond our limitations toward higher levels of being.
Surrender is neither defeat nor resignation. It activates our natural ability to let go of what now longer serves us. The process of surrender invites us to stop clinging and to view all our experiences with self-compassion. It calls us into a deeper relationship with the Creative Presence beyond our individual experiences.
The passing parade of everyday encounters offer us multiple opportunities for surrender. Do you feel put out by a last-minute change in schedule? Letting go of that can open your heart to receive an unexpected blessing you would have otherwise missed. Stuck in traffic? Letting go of impatience frees up your mind to give thanks for many other things that have worked out for you.
Surrender requires a change of focus. Instead of resorting to habitual knee-jerk reactions, we choose to become fully conscious of the bigger picture and choose a more appropriate response. We can let go of old beliefs and engage a broader perspective with more trust, deeper compassion for ourselves and others, and acceptance of what is.
Surrender also requires us to trust in the larger process. We are asked to stop clinging to our preconceived ideas about life, to let go and to let Higher consciousness guide us past our limiting attachments to something better. When we open to the process of surrender, we recognize that it is our desperate clinging to the known, that most often cause us pain. When we open our hearts to let go of that to which we cling, we find the grace to also embrace that which we resist. By letting go, we find personal growth and peace.
When struggling with letting go, it helps to remember that we’re simply letting go of old programs, limitations or feelings that have victimized and enslaved us for a long time. These old programs and coping mechanisms have simply blinded us to the higher truth of our real identity. We are letting go of what no longer serves us, to make room for what is more aligned with our path now!
The process of surrender is not complicated, but it does require self-discipline. It involves becoming aware of a reactive feeling as it arises within and staying with it; letting that feeling run its course without resisting, changing or trying to do anything else about it.
It’s helpful to remember that you are not your feelings; you exist beyond your feelings because you are able to observe them, so you are more than your feelings and cannot be swept away by them. From that perspective, you then simply observe what you are feeling – without resisting it, venting it, fearing it, condemning it, or moralizing about it. You are not judging the feeling because you recognize that it is just a feeling. You simply stay with the feeling and surrender all effort or desire to modify it in any way. You even let go of wanting to resist the feeling. It simply is what it is!
It is resistance that keeps our unwanted feelings going. A feeling that is not resisted will dissolve as the energy behind it dissipates. As soon as you find yourself no longer resisting or trying to avoid or modify the feeling, it will dissipate and shift to another feeling with a lighter sensation such as calm.
When you first start the process of surrender, you may notice how fear or guilt arise around the feelings you have, adding layers to the feeling. For example, you may notice some reaction that comes up in response to a feeling of fear you’re experiencing. You may be afraid of feeling fear, or you may judge your fear of feeling the fear. When this happens, just let go of the surrounding fear or judgment first, and then you’ll be able to let the core fear itself drain away.
To effectively surrender emotions you’d previously clung to or resisted unconsciously, it is helpful to stay fully present with your feelings. Ignore any thoughts, stories, or rationalizations that may arise in your mind. Renown psychiatrist Dr. David R. Hawkins used to say that thoughts are endless and self-reinforcing, so they only breed more thoughts. When you surrender all thoughts around a feeling, you will notice that old, entrenched feelings dissolve faster and with more ease.
You will also notice that all negative feelings are ultimately associated with the basic survival instinct. Feelings are merely survival programs that the mind believes are necessary for survival. By surrendering to the process and letting the feelings run their course, you are progressively winding down these outdated programs and you will experience more peace.
We are asked to surrender many times daily: in our work, love, relationships, and bodies. It takes great courage to let go and surrender to what is. It takes a firm commitment to open our hearts and hands, releasing what we’ve clung to. And yet, when we do this work, our hearts open to more peace, equanimity, and trust to enrich our lives.
When we stay present in each moment, we learn to recognize opportunities for surrender as calls for growth everywhere in life. It becomes a practical way of handling relationships, limitations and challenges. It also becomes a deeply personal journey of inner transformation. Instead of bemoaning our lot, we start to welcome every experience as a hand-picked opportunity for our ultimate learning and growth.
Living and letting go are intertwined. The more we surrender our resistance to unwanted difficulties, the more space we open up for all that’s beautiful, profound, and abundant. We attune to the sacred beauty of whatever is right in front of us at any given time.
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