The Power of Surrender

(Julia Hancock - - July 2018)

The word surrender means to stop fighting, or to stop trying to control an emotion or experience. Everyone will feel the very foundation of their life rocked at some point whether through loss, illness or some other major change. At some point pressure will be felt, and our survival instincts may kick-in. To drop our defences we may need to face and change habits, let-go of aggression, and stop whatever keeps other people, or an experience “out” from our capacity to feel it. Ultimately we are each called to surrender at some point in our life.

Our culture tends to venerate the mind. All very well, but only when in balance with one’s wisdom and intuition. Our mind is primarily focussed on the past or the future. In Eastern medicine we say the mind should be the servant of the heart, not the other way around. The mind is a useful tool, but may cause problems if it’s allowed to be the big boss! Our mind is often the main force which prevents surrender. Fear can be another block to deep surrender.

Signs we're unable to surrender

  • stress
  • aggression
  • fear
  • the need to always be right
  • inability to say sorry
  • constant planning to the finest detail
  • shallow breathing
  • excess release of stress hormones (cortisol, adrenaline)
  • disease
  • insomnia
  • lack of joy
  • lack of present moment awareness
  • over-invested in specific outcome

Ways we can benefit from surrender

  • open to new experience
  • literally being able to see the bigger picture
  • ability to say, "I'm sorry."
  • spontaneity
  • calm, peaceful emotions
  • deeper breathing
  • release of feel-good hormones (oxytocin, serotonin)
  • positive affect physiologically
  • numerous health benefits
  • feel in the flow of life
  • present awareness in the here and now
  • open to life's mystery and adventure

Ultimately life just happens and we cannot be in control of everything. Learning the language of letting-go will help the flow in our life. We need to surrender sometimes. Do we not surrender when we drop into a really good nights sleep? How about the capacity to experience orgasm? We can also surrender to something greater than ourself such as spirituality or religion, or an organisation. This can bring context to our world and our place in the universe. 

For me personally I learnt a lot about surrender through death. My dear mother, wanting to end her suffering,  ended her life in 2007. This was so devastating to me I naturally went into a place of prayer, and asking for help (I’m not religious). During the following few years four other people from my life passed on. It was a difficult period, I could call it "the dark night of the soul" as all I could find was impermanence and loss. However, as I opened to the deep waves of grief and sorrow, I also felt surrender to something bigger than myself. In that place of extreme emotion and let-go, I found spiritual comfort. In fact this was so potent, I had an ecstatic experience of profound universal holding and love. I may not have ever felt that had I not surrendered to the immense grief I was processing at that time.  

A posture of surrender

In Tantra we work with posture, for example in “Namaste” when two people greet each other with hands in together in prayer position. In Sanskrit this translates to something like “I see the holy in you.” This can be a very beautiful recognition and mirror of each other. You can try this now for a moment, with yourself. Just notice how you feel with your hands in prayer position at your chest. To take it a step further, kneel when doing this, then just bow your head and hands down to the floor, simply to experiment with this posture of surrender. Just try saying silently “I let go in this moment.” Just notice how this feels inside. It’s a very good remedy if we’ve mean too mind-based, or ego-centric!

Surrender can bring great pleasure with it. We can consciously play with surrender, such as in submission and domination in sensual/sexual intimacy. We explore this in Conscious Kink workshops I run. Playing with these dynamics in an intimate relationship can be a way to step into our power, gain new personal understanding and create passion in our life. Dance can be another enjoyable route to surrender. To let-go and allow the music to penetrate us, to change our habitual ways of sitting and moving. To let our animal-body enjoy, express, be wild, perhaps entering into ecstatic states. In my VitalDanza groups we invite this possibility.

As another route to surrender I offer you the beautiful Ho’oponopono technique, from Hawaii:

“I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you”.

This is has been used around the world for healing. You can find much information about it's amazing results online. Try sitting for a few minutes and repeating it in your head. Don’t worry about who it’s for, just experiment and witness. It can bring many gifts when you let yourself go into this with an open heart.

Surrender can be beautiful, potent and ecstatic. Knowing how and when to do so, is individual to person and context, and is partly an act of grace. Life passes quickly, let’s not be too busy to miss the opportunity! May all beings know the beauty and wisdom of deep surrender in life.