The Practice of Surrender

The more I try to plan out my life, the more I find myself worrying and getting stressed. The more I let go, open up and listen, the more I find the right path and resources revealing themselves to me.

It is really nerve-racking, though, learning to trust in life. Giving up on trying to control and manipulate, as Donna Farhi says, “is like being suspended in the air between one trapeze bar and another”. What if…..?


But as I let go I feel my body soften. I feel the tension in my head release. I feel my heart open. I actually feel more alive, suspended between those two trapeze bars; more exposed and vulnerable too, but ready to reach out for the next opportunity that reveals itself. In that space I am connected to both my fears and my heart’s desires. I am also connected to a deeper wisdom, an innate intelligence. This allows me to consciously act, react and choose what feels authentic and right to me, rather than be driven by others and forces outside of myself.

This is the practice of ishvarapranidhana – surrendering to a higher force – the last of the ten principles for living happy. It requires going beyond the ‘me’, ‘my’, ‘I’ and all the personal drama, to seeing the bigger picture. It is recognition that there is some stronger universal force, bigger than me, guiding my life in some way. Why? Perhaps so that we can evolve.

As we open to this practice, suddenly, coincidences, accidents, experiences and changing circumstances start to become interesting learning opportunities and life becomes more of an adventure than a struggle!! We start to tap into our intuition and gut instincts and experience greater meaning in daily life.

I find that ishvarapranidhana is a potent antidote to mental agitation, anxiety, stress and feelings of confusion, being stuck or lost. So how can we learn to bring it into our lives? Here’s a few simple ideas.

Pause to notice 

When we stop being completely tied up with our own lives and open our senses to what’s going on around us, we become present. We notice that everything is interconnected, that life is in constant movement and that we don’t actually know or control everything. Our personal drama begins to fade in significance and we start to open up to life. Every day, as often as you can, gift yourself with moments to press  <pause> and notice. Breathe, feel, listen, smell, see, taste and notice what it means to be alive at that moment. What a shame it would be to miss it !

Spend time in nature

Nothing is better at teaching us to see the bigger picture and to surrender than nature. Indeed she reminds us regularly of her power! We quickly pale into insignificance as we stand by the ocean, on a mountain top or facing a storm. In nature there is wisdom. In nature we reconnect to our deeper selves. Take time regularly to be in nature without doing anything; to listen to nature without expecting anything, and to let nature be your teacher.

Practice corpse pose – savasana

One of yoga’s most difficult poses. The more you practice this pose, the more your life will change for the better!! It involves lying on the ground and surrendering completely to the moment. It helps if you are warm and comfortable, supported by some cushions and blankets, and in a quiet, dark space (although with practice you can learn to let go no matter what the noise around you). Let your feet relax outwards and your arms open away from the body. For 9 breaths make your exhale longer than your inhale and repeat to yourself internally “surrender”. Then release the breath and feel your body and mind letting go completely. Surrender all control. Stay here for about 20 minutes.  Enjoy !

Don’t fight it !

Next time you feel that something you are doing is a real struggle, or you feel stressed, indecisive, tired or resistant, try letting go a little rather than forcing through! Step back a while and take a breath. Maybe there is another way? Maybe this isn’t right for you just now? Maybe tomorrow will reveal a new option? Maybe you could reach out for support? You might just be pleasantly surprised by how it feels and what happens next.

With a little bit of experimentation I am discovering that life doesn’t have to be hard work !!

What do you think? What helps you surrender? In what ways has it helped you? Any nice surprises?

Other related posts: Letting go to reveal your happiness

2 thoughts on “The Practice of Surrender

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