I once read a true story about a man who nearly drowned. He was swimming in the ocean when a giant wave pulled him under.
The water was strong and the man fought furiously to save his life. At some point, though, he knew his efforts were futile. He stopped fighting and let go of his struggle.
But he did not die.
As soon as he let go, the wave spit him out of the water. He took a giant breath of air and had an epiphany: surrendering saved his life.
What happens when you surrender to the reality of what is?
Almost every person I know has struggled with something. Struggle seems inevitable.
But pro-longed struggle can act as a repellent, pushing away the very thing you desire.
It can also act as a magnet, attracting the exact thing you do not want.
And ultimately, struggle blocks intuition, making it harder to hear and trust the obvious next steps on your journey.
So what’s a person to do?
Ironically, it is the act of surrendering to the experience, of quieting the mind and acknowledging the reality of the situation, that often leads the way to happiness or peace or even your goal.
But how do you let go? How do you surrender when things feel really awful? Here’s one way:
Start by asking “Where is your struggle?”
Think for a moment about your greatest challenge. Connect with that struggle for a minute.
What does this struggle feel like in your body?
Is there tightness?
A frozen feeling?
Or my personal favorite, a head that feels like an overactive beehive, buzzing with thoughts and confusion?
What is the inner dialogue that accompanies this struggle?
Is there any negative self-talk?
A voice of doubt?
Or perhaps you have a hollow chamber that’s void of thoughts, not in a “free your mind” sort of way, but in a “I’m afraid and all my thoughts ran away” sort of way?
Recognizing the feeling and accept the situation
This part can be tricky. People often confuse surrender with calling it quits or denial. But calling it quits is about turning away from something and denial is about pretending that it doesn’t exist. Surrender, at least the way I’m using it, is about accepting the reality of the situation while simultaneously not attaching emotional judgments to it.
This is important because the feelings that accompany struggle are often more about the struggle than the actual challenge.
For instance, if your challenge is “lack of clients”, then the struggle may be related to any feelings that accompany not having enough clients (or ultimately not having enough money).
A tightened chest, nervousness, a paralyzing fear – all of these feelings not only get in the way of intuition and inner wisdom, they make it harder to attract clients.
When you let go of the anxiety, fear and indecision and sit in the truth of the moment, simply accepting it as it is, it becomes easier for clarity to filter through. That’s the process of surrender. It’s a letting go of attachment to outcomes or a feeling that you’re not where you’re supposed to be.
Surrender is accepting what you have. Surrender makes it easier to have mental clarity which in turn makes it easier to hear helpful thoughts.
I know. Way easier said than done, especially when money is tight and time ran out on the deadline meter. But that’s why this way of being is often integrated into spiritual “practices.” It’s something most of us need to be reminded of over and over again. It’s worth remembering, though, because the surrender will actually help you move beyond the struggle.
And that leads me to the last step:
Ask a question
Questioning isn’t really a part of the surrender process, but it is a useful next step.
Using the client example above, I might create a question like, “Where is the opportunity to find more clients?” I then pose the question to anyone who will listen: God, the Universe, my friends, my cats. When I ask the question I notice any accompanying feelings. If panic sets in, I surrender to what is and trust the process.
I might also use my question to incubate a dream or explore in a journal.
Regardless, I always get an answer. When I follow through with what I hear, my challenge is solved. (And when I ignore what I hear, my challenge remains a challenge…)
So what do you think?
Do you agree with the idea of surrendering to what is? Disagree?
How have you used the concept of surrendering to solve problems?