Each spring, the natural world issues an open invitation to one of life’s most challenging but essential spiritual practices: surrender. Nature makes no conscious choice to surrender: tulip bulbs sleeping under the cold ground, tiny leaves budding on ancient oaks, cheerful birds seeking the safest place to build their nests–all freely surrender to the power of spring to bring life, growth, beauty, and joy.
Nature—our teacher–is always surrendering, unfolding, transforming, becoming new. Surrender brings new life, prosperity, order, fruits, and flowers. The earth surrenders to sun, wind, and rain as she is challenged to bring forth something new, unexpected, abundant.
We women know about surrender. The power and energy within our bodies reminds us of the acorn that does not push, does not try, but simply surrenders to the innate nature of an oak tree, simply trusts the unfolding of its life process.
We women understand the acorn. One day we are little girls, then seemingly overnight we begin to cycle, and watch our bodies bloom and grow right before our eyes. We don’t plan, we don’t control, we don’t orchestrate this unfolding. We surrender to this awe-inspiring power and become a woman.
There is immense power in this surrendering and letting go. Surrender restores us to our source. Surrender restores our balance.
We innately know about the cycles, flows and balance of life. We are fluid, flowing, surrendering, tied to the cycles of nature. Just as the seasons, the moon, and the tides cycle in nature, so do we women. We cycle monthly, and we cycle throughout our lives. We move through the cycle of life from innocent young girls, to adolescent fullness, to fertile young women, to caring mothers, to wise experienced elders. Yes, we know about cycles, flows and balance. We women know.
And we innately know when we are out of balance. We have detectors inside us that go off like alarms, screaming, “Red alert, red alert, out of balance.” But often, to survive in our hectic lives, we have learned to turn a deaf ear to our inner alarms. Sometimes we unplug our inner alarms. Sometimes we even yank the batteries out so we can move faster and faster and faster, like a train running out of control on a track.
We ignore our inner alarms because, in a culture that places a high value on individual accomplishment, we are inundated from the day we are born with the ideal of achievement and success. We are taught to compete our entire life: in sports, school, and business. We learn early in life that there are winners and losers—and the word “surrender” is traditionally associated with losers.
In my competitive sports- and business-driven family, “surrender” was a dirty word. My father, brothers, grandfathers were all in the military. “Surrender” meant to lose, fail, be conquered. “Surrender” was a defeated soldier on a bleak battlefield waving a white flag.
But when we examine the way our ideals of “success” have constructed our lives, many of us are not happy with what we have orchestrated. We may experience sadness, depression, apathy or turmoil. We may feel overwhelmed. The more plans we make, the more complicated our lives become, the more surrender becomes a welcome balm to a life that feels out of control. The idea of giving up control may bring momentary anxiety. But when we finally let go, an instant grace and healing flows in.
Surrender may be simple, but it is often not easy, as letting go can be one of the deepest and most challenging of spiritual practices. If the idea of surrender brings anxiety, take a moment to consider that your ego and will may have constructed the life you are living. Consider that you may not be connected to your true life’s purpose, that you may not be living an intentional life with the authentic you in balance with your life.
Surrender is the perfect tool to discover your true life’s purpose. Great spiritual and psychological minds throughout history have extolled the amazing power of letting go and trusting the process. When you embrace surrender, you release your ego and your attachment to life the way you have constructed it. When you embrace surrender, you trust a power greater than your own.
Believe me, I know about the power of surrender. My life was moving at a well- planned pace when one day my intermittent panic attacks returned with a vengeance and tried to consume my life. I seemed to have had the “perfect life”: the perfect career, perfect family, fabulous home, hottest cars, exotic vacations. But there was always something calling me under the surface of my “perfect life.” With the wise guidance of an amazing spiritual director and a loving therapist, I decided to do the most terrifying thing I could imagine in my well-orchestrated world: surrender to my authentic self.
I could never have imagined the rich rewarding life that I experience now. My earlier conception of a “perfect life” doesn’t even compare to the intentional life I now live. When you surrender, you begin an adventure of discovery, of finding out who you really are. A new sense of freedom, power and energy stirs within you.
Five Simple Paths to Surrender
1. Jump in.
Water powerfully supports the surrender process. Soaking in a hot tub or taking a long warm shower relaxes your muscles so you can release more deeply into surrender. Imagine your burdens rushing down the drain as the warm water nurtures you, supporting your life process.
Pay attention to your inner voice. Make time each day to sit alone in a special place, light a candle, get comfortable, breathe deeply and listen. Listen to your fears, pains, sorrows, worries, dreams, longings, and joys. Listen to whatever your heart whispers. Surrender to the feelings that emerge. Honor them. Release judgment; release attachment. Trust the age-old time-honored process of surrender.
After each session, write and/or draw what you experience while it is fresh and clear. Revisit your spiritual journal and reflect on your process as you learn and grow.
Science has shown that repeating affirmations is a powerful healing tool. Create affirmations that support you during this process of surrender. Find simple 3-5 word affirmations that resonate with what you need to hear, such as: “Keep letting go,” “All is well,” or “My purpose is unfolding.” Use insights gained from listening and reflection to create your own unique affirmation.
Seek out a spiritual center or group to support you in your unfolding. You may want to see a therapist and/or a certified spiritual director for guidance during this pivotal time in your life.
Just as summer surrenders to fall, and fall to winter, the cold dark sleep of winter finally awakens to the promise of spring. Spring blesses us with the opportunity to become the student of our lives. Spring invites us to embrace the ultimate teacher: surrender.