The Art of Surrender

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Heliotroping_The Art of Surrender_Reirani

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Surrender is defined in Dictionaries as “submitting to an authority, giving up against an enemy, and ceasing to resist an opponent”. Surrender has always been a word that relates to battles, enemies and warring.

But surrender when used in terms of spirituality, coaching and mentorship means something else entirely.

Surrender means “to Release”. To “let go”.

To Allow.

Allow for what? For whatever is happening TO happen. To let go of the need to control what is going on. To trust that if something other than what we want is going on, that it might be because there’s another way what we want is meant to happen.

Why would you want to let go of your ideas about how things should be? Because things are always going to happen that you can’t control, anyway! You can either let go, or be dragged.  

If you’re a control freak that might sound like a non-option, and it’s true that letting go is harder for people that need to control each aspect of their lives. If you’d rather be dragged then go for it! I’ve personally found that it’s much easier on the body, mind and heart to let go. Life’s gonna carry you along either way.

The older you get the more you come to terms with this, simply because you have more experience with things not going your way! Rather than letting those experiences make you cynical, less open and distrusting of life, learning the art of surrender can open you to the magic of life.

What magic is this?

The magic that has that thing you’ve been wanting show up in a way you NEVER could have imagined! Sometimes WE get in our own way with our control. We push in the only direction we know, when there are a million other directions that life wants to take to get us to our desired destination. Many times those other ways are easier as well!

I often quote spiritual teachings in these blogs, things that I’ve not just learned and can parrot back, but things I’ve experienced, over and over again. This one is no different 😉

A teacher once told me “Your job is not to worry about the HOW, that will take care of itself. Your job is only to focus on the WHAT, and to hold your attention on that”. That was really hard for me. To not get involved in HOW something should play out. To not have to know HOW.

Surrender is not to be confused with not doing anything by the way. You still have to take action on what you want. Surrender means not needing to control all the details of how the outcome comes to you, or when.

You can’t control it all anyway

It often seems so clear – that path from where we are to where we want to be. “That person just needs to give me the gig!”, “They need to see me! Hear me! Recognize how talented I am!”. We think “If I just did this, then I would get that”, “If that happened then everything I’ve been wanting would fall into place!”.  

The problem is, we aren’t in a vacuum – and able to control every aspect of life. We’re in a soup! All of us 7 billion people, flying through space, dealing with time, gravity, physics, laundry. Trying to get enough sleep, more money, less stress. We’re swimming with each other, bumping up against each other and subject to the laws of man and nature.

We can’t control everything else, we can only control ourselves. We can’t control the outcome of everything we do either.

That’s where surrender becomes so potent.

Surrender isn’t just the only option sometimes – it’s the best option!

We don’t surrender because “I’ve tried everything and it’s just not working!”. We’re not at war and laying down the flag, exhausted and giving up. We’re also not surrendering to someone else defeating us.

Our surrender is part of the initial equation. We do what we can and we let the other factors add themselves in to achieve the sum.

A Story of Surrender

Here’s an example that might help you understand what I mean. As always this is a personal example. I always prefer to learn about a thing from someone who’s experienced it. By the way, I don’t always practice surrender, but when I do – everything always works out better!

My sister – and only sibling – died last year. Her affairs were left to me to handle, as the only capable person in her immediate family that could.

She had life insurance. More money than her family of partner plus 2 kids had ever seen. They’d never had a lot of money, and her partner was not the person that handled the finances in the home – she was.

It came as no surprise that the life insurance money began to quickly disappear. Some of it was meant to be held in Trust for my 12 year old niece. The Trust was her Dad’s responsibility to set up once he received the funds. I leaned on him for a year, still he never got around to it. Note to those planning their estates: make sure the Executor of your Will is someone that is capable and follows through!

I could only do what I could do (paperwork, emails, phone calls and logistics) and watch in disappointment as my sister’s wishes for what was to happen after her death were largely ignored.

In addition to the stress of that I also had the task of finishing her headstone. Physically finishing it! It’s customary in Maori families for a headstone to contain a carving. My sister’s was a 3ft tall Manaia, her favourite mythical creature from the sea. The carver dropped it off to me raw, and I was charged with sanding and Paua shell inlay. I’d never done any of this  before. It took over 100 hours of time and 2 months in total.

That moment when Surrender was the only choice.

As I neared completion on the headstone I began to think about holding off, and insisting that my sister’s wishes were honored before I would provide it. I had nothing left to control the outcome of what I saw was a trainwreck.  I thought it was the only way I might be able to GET things to happen that she’d asked for.

And one day, in the midst of the heartbreak across my family about the lack of action being taken to care for her Estate or her youngest child, and all the worry, and all the sleepless nights, I surrendered.

I decided to move forward with my part anyway.

I drafted up an inscription for the granite that would accompany the carving and sent it to the mason. We organized a photo, a Kaikorero (someone to Officiate the graveside ceremony), music and song selection, and I set a date for the unveiling.

Then I went out to the garage, every day for weeks, and worked until I couldn’t feel my fingers. I sent messages to family members on both sides, letting them know we were close and to prepare for travel. This was going against the impulse to control the outcome. This was about doing MY part and releasing the rest to the Universe.   

I was going to handle this, to honor her, and I would handle it well. With that one decision, I totally let go.

Things fall into place – without my control!

3 days before her unveiling my sisters stepson called me. I hadn’t spoken to him in nearly a year. He told me that his Dad had left my sisters affairs to him, that he had received my emails, he was also concerned for my niece’s financial future (his little sister after all) and he assured me that not only was he going to make sure my sister’s wishes were granted – he had been into the lawyer and begun the process TO make it so.

Then an amazing thing unfolded. On the day we unveiled my sisters headstone we also blessed her house, which I’d been renovating for a year in order to sell as per her wishes. The house was 8 months behind schedule, due the partner who just wasn’t showing up but wanting to keep anyone else from doing the job as well. I’d given up on it happening.

Blessing a home after someone passes is a ritual about gathering up the energy of those who lived in the home and taking it with us, while leaving the home blessed for the next family.

I’d put the request to the Kaikorero (Officiant), he’d said he’d be honored to do it, and so we drove there as soon as the ceremony at the grave was over. That afternoon my sister’s stepson told me he’d had an offer from someone to buy it, they’d accepted, and the papers would be drawn up this week.

He also confirmed my niece’s original insurance money would be going into a Trust for her, along with a portion of the sale of the house.

The palpable result of surrender

This story has nothing to do with career, business, or voiceover, but it has everything to do with Life and how Life works (or doesn’t) on our behalf.

It wasn’t working for me to try and control the outcome. I couldn’t. All I could do was hold to the result and do what I knew I could do, and to do it in Good Faith. Nothing had ever been so heavy on my heart, the wellbeing of my loved ones and my sisters wishes, and yet I could only let go.

So in this story, which incidentally happened just this past week, I hope you can see what I mean by the art of surrender. Like a martial art it’s about moving with, rather than against other energies. You CAN always opt for the latter, but I promise you that Life already has a million other ways that the outcome you’re looking for can come to you. It’s not our job to concern ourselves with how.

Know when to surrender

The biggest indicator that you need to let go and surrender can be found in how you feel. If you’re stressed that something isn’t going your way, or upset and resistant to someone who you think is IN the way, you’re going to feel it. That will affect every other part of your life. However that shows up for you – aches and pains, indigestion, insomnia, irritability, anger – they’re all indicators that you have to let it go.

This isn’t the same as letting someone else off the hook. Everyone is throwing their energy onto the wheel of karma. It’s not for you to design the hook anyway. It’s only for you to do your best, bless the mess and release the rest.

There’s NO way that I could have made that all line up the way it did – and on that day. I’d tried for over a year. It wasn’t working. I could only provide a line in the sand that I drew for myself, to honor my part, and then let go of the rest.

The power and potency of Surrender

I could not have scripted how this personal experience – that was immensely difficult to navigate – unfolded. This is the potency of Surrender. It’s about trusting in Life to deliver what we most want – in a way that is not ours to figure out.

I hope you can apply something from here in your own life to benefit it. Especially if you’re going through something challenging that involves others.

I believe that the more we can surrender – while showing up to do OUR best – the more we can witness the magic and alchemy of Life as it delivers what we want in the most unexpected ways.

Do your part, always. And let others, including Life itself, do the rest.

Perhaps that’s what it’s all about anyway.



PS: I’d like to share with you an amazing song that my friend and mentor Rickie Byars Beckwith wrote. Rickie BB was the Director of Music at Agape, my Church for more than a decade when I lived in Los Angeles. It’s called “Let My Soul Surrender”, and I promise if you watch this to the end, you’ll be uplifted in a way that only music can.

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