Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Fine Art of Surrender

The window of discernment that opens straight before making a big decision is transformative. This is where character is formed, with a heart-shaped lump in your throat, as you contemplate a leap of epic proportions. This is the school house of experience where you learn patience, urgency, courage and surrender. It is the moment after all the homework has been done, all the pro and con lists have been written, and advisers have been consulted. All that is left to do is follow that gut feeling. Jump! Do it! You know its right! But do you? What if you’re wrong?

So often at this point we doubt ourselves. We mistrust our intuition, and instead of surrendering to our destiny we close the window on possibility, draw the shades on opportunity and confine ourselves to a dark room called fear. It doesn’t have to be this way. You can relearn the art of surrender, trusting yourself but now with the added benefit of years of hard knocks in the school of life.

What can you do to train yourself to boldly leap through the window of opportunity? How can you learn to trust your instincts once again when walls turn into doors?
We’re all different when it comes to risks. I’ve always been good at rationalizing when taking risks. Before I bungied off Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown in New Zealand I calmed myself by saying, “Hundreds of people do this every day. I’ve never heard of a single accident.” This is also called blissful ignorance. Another method I use to calm fear is calm resignation. When I find myself on a particularly bumpy flight, I tell myself, “Even if we crash there’s nothing I can do about this so I might as well sit back and relax.”

On reflection, I think I am half right with my method. Your rational skills will only get you so far. Blaise Pascal said, “All of our reasoning ends in surrender to feeling.” Science tells us that decision making is 95% emotional and 5% rational. That doesn’t mean that surrender has to be ill-informed. You can prepare for moments of decision making by studying facts and preparing your attitude.

Surrender is like swimming in a riptide. If you tighten up and attempt to swim against the tide, you will tire and eventually drown. If you relax and go with the flow, you will survive. The first lesson of surrender is to stop fighting against the flow of life when it is clearly on a roll. It is the delicate balance between acceptance and resistance. Resignation and ignorance are too passive for healthy surrender. Add a little mindfulness and knowledge for healthy surrender.

Who are you surrendering to? By any name you are surrendering to your inner sense of wholeness, the deeper self that has intuitive wisdom and sees your potential. At the precipice of large decisions your ego wants you to play small and stay safe. Remind yourself to make decisions from your deeper sense of being part of the whole, one with life. You are part of a whole that is greater than all and yet pervasively present in each. Make decisions that honor this greater whole. It has incredible plans and you are an intimate part of her plans. Surrender the life you have planned to step into the life that is waiting for you. By leaving yourself open to the flow of an unknown future, you will discover new and unimagined possibilities.

The essence of surrender is a recognition that you can’t control everything. In fact there is very little you can control. Give up trying to control everything and you will feel a giant weight fall off your shoulders. You are dancing with the stars, flowing with the oceans and grounded in the roots of the earth. How could your future not unfold in perfect alignment with life?

Of course this is much easier said than done. But isn’t everything? If you’ve lost your job, learnt you have a serious illness or just generally feel at your wit’s end, try surrendering. Go with the flow and trust the adventure of being alive. Events may not transpire as you imagine or even hope. They could be even better. The open window beckons. Feel its gentle breeze. Take in the panoramic view. The world is calling to you, inviting your trust.

Ps, please check in at Soulseeds for awesome resources to help with surrender.

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