What does it mean to surrender and how does it apply to one’s spirituality? For anyone who has a problem, solving the problem is usually the goal. It doesn’t occur to us that there may be a better way out of a problem – and that problem is surrendering to it. Our minds and bodies don’t work that way. We want to fix, manage and control and situation. But for the spiritual seeker whose desire is to find peace, serenity and hope, the solution may well be to surrender the outcome.
The Need To Surrender
Surrender by definition means, “to relinquish control to another power.” It can be done peacefully or after a defeat. The surrender I am speaking of applies to our battles with a perceived or real problem, both internal and external. When we allow ourselves to let go of the need to solve a problem, we begin to see that life happens for us, not against us. Surrender therefore, becomes a path of strength, not of defeat. Usually, this surrender comes at the end of a painful internal struggle. But the surrender process can also happen faster, when we trust that whatever the outcome, we will be put in a spiritual place that will be far better than anything we could have planned.
I have been reading the book, “The Surrender Experiment” by Michael Singer. https://untetheredsoul.com/ I was struck by the story of his journey from struggle to surrendering to life’s perfection. It is the idea of the spiritual knowing that we will ultimately be taken care of by the universe, despite our perceived threat of our problems. He writes about letting go of his need to control the outcome of a situation and surrendering to the flow of events. He said, “Little by little, the fabric of my life was composed of the results of my surrender. I was becoming surrounded by a life that had been built for me, not by me.”
What Does Surrender Mean
Let’s start with what surrender doesn’t mean. Surrender does not mean that one is giving up ones life. It means we are giving up the fight so that we can actually continue to live. When we ‘raise the white flag,’ our captors allow us to live. (At least if they are following the fair rules of battle.) It’s when we do not surrender is how we are ultimately defeated. For anyone who has ever tried the path of recovery – this is the way we enter into a new way of life. We must surrender the old way, and go toward the unknown new way.
My friend Robin, (whom I wrote about a few weeks ago in a blog about gratitude) https://rabbicosnowsky.com/the-healing-power-of-gratitude/ is currently in the hospital with COVID. (You should know, she continues to text me a daily gratitude list!) Robin is powerless over COVID and now has pneumonia. But she has stopped fighting her fear of it and has relaxed into the idea of knowing she is exactly where she needs to be. By letting the doctors do their job (and God to do God’s job – which is healing) she can surrender the fear and her need to know the outcome. Surrendering her need to control, saves her energy for doing what she can do. Thus, she uses her energy to count the blessings she has. (If you can – please keep Robin in your prayers – she’s doing okay, but it can’t hurt to send her a shout out prayer anyway.)
Surrender in its purest form, is not submission to a person. It is more a letting go into a higher force – the force that gives life itself. It means that we now surrender the attachment to a certain outcome and trust that we will be ultimately taken to a better spiritual place. In the Yoga Sutra, which is the text on yoga, Patanjali (yogic sage) talks about the practice of Ishvara pranidhana. This path of surrendering our egos, our outcomes and our control over to God is the way to achieve an inner state of oneness. That is the goal of practicing yoga, to surrender as a way of peace.
Those who begin to understand the way of surrender become masters of something called ‘flow.‘ That is when you intuitively understand how to stop fighting energy and begin to flow with it instead. Those who practice martial arts, learn how to use the energy of the opponent against them, so they themselves don’t expend energy trying to figure things out.
The Art of Surrender Requires Practice
For those of us who have spent our lives trying to fix, manage and control our problems, this concept of surrender may seem foreign and counterintuitive. Surrender itself is not something you can make happen. Instead, it is the result that happens after we struggle and find we can’t make life conform to our plan. Once we become aware of this, we can begin to let go. To allow ourselves to say, “I can’t go on like this.” And from that place of relinquishing control, we surrender. Something internally shifts, and we are either in a place of despair or a place of trust. Sometimes both occur simultaneously. But regardless, the path to surrender is by allowing that shift within us to happen. The shift is where grace happens.
And once we are in this new place, we question why we didn’t surrender earlier! New energy flows toward us, and we allow ourselves to be taken to whatever spiritual place we were meant to go.
- We cease to be attached to the outcome.
- We stop trying to “figure it out.”
- We let go of what we think we know, and trust that God has our back.
There’s a story that’s told of a warrior standing on the battlefield, ready for war. He was calm and relaxed. A nervous contemporary asked him, “Oh great solider, we are outnumbered. How can you be so confident we will win?”
The warrior told his friend, “I go into battle prepared for any outcome. I may get captured, injured or even if I die, I know I will be okay. Thus, I have nothing to lose and therefore nothing to fear.”
There is great peace in letting go. Surrender means we can know no matter what – we will be okay. Let me know in the comments below or via email about any struggle you are experiencing or surrendering to! And until we meet again, may you be blessed along your spiritual journey.