The Art of Surrender

The Art of Surrender

The Art of Surrender

When I hear the word surrender, I tend to react in a negative way. I think of it as submitting, giving up or giving in. I think of surrender as letting go of my power or my protection. I am vulnerable to anything or anyone that might hurt me. So I struggle when someone says the word surrender to me.

But, I’ve learned that surrendering does not mean becoming weak. I’ve learned that if I become softer with something, I actually find strength. I am able to allow my inner strength to bubble up. I don’t often trust that it will be there or that it will be strong enough, but my strength always is.

I’m not sure why I don’t believe in my strength (but I have a few ideas that I won’t go into here.) It has never failed me when I have truly allowed it to come up instead interfering with it by holding on.

I have birthed four children and each time, I was not able to do it until I surrendered into the act of birth. In that letting go of my control, I found strength I never knew I had. It was the strength to bring another human being out of my body and into the world. I held onto this strength for quite a long time after each birth, but it doesn’t remain with me unless I surrender into it again.

Surrendering is natural for my state, but my life has encouraged my belief that being tight and unyielding cultivates strength. There can be a place for that kind of strength, but it has never worked as well for me as the fluidity of surrender.

Every guilt-memory I have created for myself as a parent is also one I can point to as being one where I did not surrender and trust myself. I can’t seem to hold onto the memory of my power to create unless I mindfully do the work.

It is the small examples of surrender I think of as mindfully doing the work. Such as, when I’m struggling to get my kids out the door and it seems like we’re moving in lock step toward a power struggle. It takes a long time and is unpleasant for us all unless one of us opts out of the struggle.

As the parent, that would be me who has to the responsibility to surrender in that moment. Once I withdraw from our ego-battle and surrender into our rhythms, the oppressive atmosphere lifts. We get out the door more quickly and most often manage to do it smiling.

All it took was for me to surrender and the strength to smoothly get out the door arrived. Yet, again I am focusing on my kids as the “problem” to fix in order to get out the door. I should be focusing on myself as part of the solution to getting out the door.

Whether I’m the entire problem or whether my kids pick up on my attitude and react (which I then react to and so on; back and forth) isn’t as important as remembering that the only thing I can control is how I feel about what is happening and what I do with those feelings.

I have had this happen in Yoga class, too. My inner monologue says that a pose is hard for me and I tighten up. Then begins the battle between my body and my will. I fight and struggle to open. If I’m lucky, I remember to let go and start mentally looking for places I’m holding tension or pushing against. I back off on the tension and the pushing and find that there is so much more space to move into. I never would have found flexibility without injury unless I became soft.

I have the same experience with writing, which is how this piece is actually appearing tonight. I have had a sinus headache and have been worried about what to write for my daily post all day. I’ve been searching for inspiration, getting more stressed about it as the day goes on. Until finally, when there are only a few minutes left before it is time for the kids’ bedtime routine, I was willing to surrender into whatever came out of me. I sat down; took some deep breaths and began with the idea of surrender.

I have memories of this happening with exams in school, presentations at work, projects, decisions, travels with my family, and the list goes on. Most of all, I remember this happening with PPD. It was worse when I struggled and fought. Surrendering while depressed was much more frightening to me because feelings of death feel real. I was always in panic-mode if I thought I was going to get lost in the darkness and never find my way back. Whenever I was able to face that fear, healing became easier and I was kinder to myself.

This leads me to the realization that there are times when I need to step back from being engaged in the moment (or perhaps, more explicitly, being disengaged because I’m worrying about the future or the past) and become the observer. There are times when being in the moment can be more of a trap and it is necessary to get a clear view. I cannot get rid of my ego with another active action of my ego. The work is looking at each situation and deciding whether it will be better served by diving back into the flow or stepping out to observe. Either way, I need to surrender and trust in myself.

How do you feel about surrendering? Do you fight against it or are you able to access power through the art of observation and letting go? I would love to hear from you.

NaBloPoMo 2011

9 thoughts on “The Art of Surrender

  1. This is really insightful, especially your revealing mention of surrenduring to childbirth and the power of surrender. Being vulnerable is powerful, at least I think.
    It’s hard to take a step back, breathe, and figure out how your own energy affects a situation.

    One thing I question in myself is: What is so frightening about my inner self and vulnerability? Why do I feel like I can’t return to the world more balanced?

    It is an art, for sure.

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  3. I couldn’t agree with you more! It really is about surrendering to our own power to change our perceptions. If we surrender to the will of another, we feel weak. But if we surrender to our own Freedom or Truth then we gain Power and Strength. I repeat to myself throughout the day “I Choose Freedom”. Doing so helps me to eliminate battles of wills and I am able to stay empowered and centred in my own strength.

    I love this post, Zoie!
    Much love I send…
    (and yeah, you are so IN MY BRAIN!) 😛

  4. This one resonates with me as well. As a parent I’ve found the ability to surrender to the moment and let go of my agenda to be invaluable.
    It’s a hard one for me because of a deep need to hold strong, never surrender, survival instinct that says to get into fighting stance and howl like a warrior rushing into battle.
    It worked when I was a kid dealing with my father, but is not so helpful with my spouse or child.
    I’ve been fascinated by the martial art, Akido, though I still haven’t studied it. I use it often in analogies however… the idea is that instead of attacking head on with force, you take the energy coming at you and simply re-direct it. You don’t really even use much of your own energy. There’s no need.
    Do I digress?
    My final answer is that I’m still learning and I’ve come a long way. In relationship it’s been very hard to find the path to surrender. Especially hard since I’m so smart and am so often correct about what’s really going on. It makes it easy not to take the time to look at where I might be (ahem) wrong (shiver).
    I still haven’t developed a good yoga practice but I know enough to understand what you describe.
    I will use your idea for when I sit down to write as well.

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  6. I’m actually the opposite.. my default is disengagement, observing my life as if through glass too often; I must surrender to engagement. I don’t like it, but it is what it is. I *think* I’m starting to get better…

    In _Baby Catcher_, Peggy Vincent talks about the “walls” walls a laboring mother must climb in order to birth her baby. I find “shifting gears” to be a more accurate metaphor for my own experiences so far, but “surrender” is not inaccurate, either.

    • Thank you for commenting, Mendylady. At some point I want to explore these words that trip us up like, “surrender” and “detachment,” among others. There are many meanings to the words, but I think we get hung up on one or two applications for them. I found it very telling that in searching for images to use with this post, I found only images of war or sex. There were no loving or power images associated with the surrender. It was all the dominance of power of the one surrendering.

      I can see how surrender could be different for a birth experience, for sure. Shifting gears rings true for me as well. I think if it as moving my thoughts or my control to the side to make way for a different part of me to drive for awhile. I had forgotten about that image in Baby Catcher. I didn’t identify with that either-mostly because I couldn’t get around the idea of how wrong tweaking my heavily loaded, separated pelvis would be if I tried to climb a wall. Eesh! I can feel my cervix clamping shut just thinking about it right now.

I love comments and try to reply to each one. I look forward to connecting with you. Namaste

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