Understanding The Art Of Surrender
wind midwifes the angel wings to shower us in rose petals
Last week, I finished writing my second poetry book (drum roll please!) which will be published in November 2020. It’s been quite the ride and oftentimes I felt like the photo above; as in floating, not “writing”. Ask any writer and they’ll tell you that the majority of the book process is some form of staring (or daydreaming). We just never know what will emerge and where it will lead us, no matter how much we plan it. We have to get used to trusting and not knowing. Our unconscious will delicately guide us in certain directions and though we haven’t installed the sun yet – we just follow it blindfolded, and always, always, in some mysterious way, for some mysterious reason, threads begin to form patterns, rivers plaid when moss is cold, and suddenly all begins to take substance, coming into its being.
This is something to be grateful for because it is quite sad to then see nothing in the offing. After the book is created we are left with a kind of emptiness wondering, now what? What will we do next? We’ve devoted our everything and surrendered our everything to the moments prior, for its creation, but now what? It can be a scary feeling. That’s how I felt last year after publishing my first book.
And here I am today, with my second book – which I had no idea that I’ll write and that I’ll be completely smitten and in love with. You just never know. We can’t hurry our journeys, we can’t hurry our discoveries and some stories need to wait patiently, to be old enough to be told. It is sometimes precisely in the waiting that we unexpectedly gather all the wisdom and riches of our life’s tale.
A Shaman once said: True power has the ability to do nothing. It took me a while to understand the essence of this. To talk about surrender, we need to understand control, resistance, and trust.
Struggle to surrender
We all as human beings like to control things because this is what gives us comfort in understanding this uncertain thing called life. People who become controlling or have issues with control, usually hold a lot of fear and have experiences of feeling powerless which they haven’t yet healed. As a self-preservation technique, they grow up desiring to control the environment, so as to provide themselves safety. The underlying cause is usually lack of trust. It is important to understand the unique deeper reason for wanting or needing to “control” something in our lives so that we are more aware of how to tackle the root of our why. And there could be different reasons in different situations.
For example, imagine a child living in a household where his parents fight constantly and/or are emotionally unstable and/or are very restrictive, controlling, critical. This causes the child to suppress his own emotions and true self, so to create some stability in the environment. As an adult, he continues to replay this narrative and has trouble reaching true intimacy with a partner because intimacy is about vulnerability, which is about letting go and opening up.
And there can’t be true love without vulnerability and without acceptance. Many people feel shame because of what might have happened to them in the past and why they are the way they are – this is why it is important to remember that our need for control was usually born out of necessity for self-preservation. Just as important it is to understand – that this is no longer needed, and if we truly want to experience ourselves differently, we always can by awareness, acceptance, effort, compassion, tenderness, willingness, and the right supportive environment.
Surrender = acceptance of what is + faith in oneself and life
Faith is patience waiting for trust. Trust is trusting ourselves and life; that this is a friendly universe that will support us, that life will somehow always find a way to channel through the right people on our path to support us. This is something we often learn with maturity. And with patience. And with truly noticing. Go back in time and remember how many times things just worked out. They worked out because of you; because of the incredible amount of resourcefulness and strength that you showed even when you thought you had none left. Our greatest adversary to reclaiming our power is forgetfulness; forgetting our heart, inner truth, and ability to love. Go back to the beginning and remember who you are. This is internal power.
The need for control is always coupled with deep unconscious desire for surrender; to be witnessed, to be guided, where one can release their vulnerability, and to be led to an experience that transcends boundaries, restrictions – into the mystical, spiritual and the emotionally bonding.
When we talk about control, we are ultimately talking about dominance. Dominance is the state of external power or authority, and it is my belief that dominance is always coupled with a deep (usually unconscious) desire for submission, for surrender and for being held in the attention of another person. To be witnessed there, to be guided there in a safe space where one can release their vulnerability, and to be led to an experience that transcends boundaries, restrictions – into the mystical, spiritual and the deeply emotionally bonding. This is how people connect: when we let go.
The first time I learned surrender is when I danced; something I’ve done since I was a little girl, long before I learned to write. Dancing was my first falling in surrendered love. Some people learn it through floating in the waves or standing in the rain with open palms.
When the current catches us just right, is how we learn surrender.
The truth is – if you’ve ever been truly in love, you’ve already experienced surrender. Because something overtakes us and we just let go into that moment. For example, sex is a biological surrender. In the moment of orgasm, the ego “dies”, also known as la petite-mort, because we’ve truly let go. At that moment we’ve let go of thinking, planning, and worrying. Through sex, surrender requires not much effort. People with control issues usually have fear of intimacy and also, develop unhealthy habits or compulsions, such as sexual addictions, because they overcompensate the unbalanced energy with sex etcetera. They need something where they can lose themselves in weightlessness and let go of the heavy burden of control that they carry in their everyday life. However – they would rarely experience real bliss, contentment, and self-fulfillment in the long run. And in fact, addictions and compulsions are only furthering the restrictions of self; anything extreme is unhealthy no matter what it is. Even eating salads can become unhealthy if overdone.
Surrender means to be open, afraid, and vulnerable. It means to allow another into your sacred space, to truly see you. This is real intimacy, into-me-see. We let go of our armors, we allow someone close to us, we are not resisting, not holding back – because we are just flowing, trusting, relaxing, not “thinking” of the future, etcetera. Intimacy is emotional and spiritual and requires us to be consciously and willingly open up, be vulnerable, and fall into the not knowing.
In deep love, lovers have always felt like they could die. Think of all epic stories and poetry written throughout the history of humanity: “I’ve died to myself and I live for you” only means that we’ve let go of our ego, judgments, perceptions, and boundaries of self – so that we can merge and be completely true and seen by love.
There is deep trust. And when there is deep trust, there is surrender. And in surrender is deep gratitude and deep appreciation. It’s a graceful suspencion.
Different forms of surrender
Prayer is surrender. Love is surrender. Prayer is love. Mysticism is surrender. In fact, the ancient mystics described eroticism as aliveness, vibrancy, vitality, and ecstasy. Beyond the shallow surface-level definition of “eroticism” is its deeper essence and understanding that it is a transgressive force negating the “known” to break the boundaries of reality and take us outside of the limitations of life. In a way, eroticism is the antidote to death. Just like prayer is our lifeline in our needed times, when we fall to our knees and let go, and let God. There is deep trust. And when there is deep trust, there is surrender. And in surrender is deep gratitude and deep appreciation. It’s a graceful suspension.
Many ancient philosophies and old folk traditions teach us the importance of staying in the middle, free from extremes; no repressions, and no indulgence. If we think about it: both control and resistance are repressions of self and distrust of self. The middle path means: acceptance of the totality of life, which means we and spirit, are one. For example, if we deny something, we are essentially moving to its extreme opposite. We need to have the humility to accept that we don’t know it all with our limited human understanding — that there is a force much larger and stronger, which has its own timing and energy, just as other people have their own free wills and unique paths. The state of deeply letting go is the acceptance of oneness, that we as life are one and that life’s flow is our flow. And in this, we allow life to move through us, to mold us naturally into what we were always meant to be. Surrender is about deep acceptance, which is what true love really is.
Surrender is passive, but there is nothing wrong with passivity; this is where all connection is born, where love is born, where poetry is born. When we surrender, we become vulnerable to existence itself; and only then, the whole existence takes us into its arms.
Surrender is passive, but there is nothing wrong with passivity. It is only our ego that thinks passive is “bad” because our insecurities creep up saying “we’re not enough” so we become dependent on always doing something. Receptivity is passive. Receptivity is the yin energy, the feminine energy, the creation energy. Many things are birthed during “passivity”, during meditation, during surrender. Love is born. Intimacy is born. Connection is born. Truth is born. Awareness is born. Poetry is born. When we surrender, we become vulnerable to existence itself, and only then, the whole existence takes us into its arms.
And so dear reader, wherever you are is where you need to be. Sink into that. Allow your animal body to lead you the way through the unknown forest where you will sharpen your instincts and weave your destiny. Relax and allow life to move through your body and to mold you into yourself. Our egos don’t like not knowing – because this is how we comfort ourselves and this is needed too. I am not some new-age person who will sit there preaching “ego is the enemy”. A healthy, functioning ego is needed and purposeful in its own way. It is up to us to understand it and to make it our ally, not our enemy. Ego is not the problem – it is us that turns it into a monster. We must remember that we are the masters of our mind, not vice versa. We must know why we do what we do and why we believe what we believe, and be clear about our intentions and be mindful of the identities we imprison ourselves with.
There is no need to fight ourselves, through others, or through life. And I think one of the most important things to remember about surrender is that we will make mistakes. We’ll be foolish, afraid, weak, helpless, but that’s what creativity is. That’s what living is. That’s what devotion is, what purpose is. Life breathes through us, and it experiences itself through us in a way it otherwise could not have. As such, every breath, every feeling, every phase is needed. And you know what – it’s hard to let go of control, it’s hard for everyone. We’re all human and we all struggle with it in our own unique ways. But in the times when you need to, remember what surrender feels like for you. Find what gives you joy, true joy, and surrender yourself at that moment, like a graceful suspension. Not the idea of it, not the goal of it, not the hope for it; just it. Bow to it, flow to it, devote to it, say thank you thank you thank you, and let yourself dance, wholebodily and wholeheartedly.
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