We live in a culture that says that the only way to get what you want is to DO DO DO and then DO some more. Push. Struggle. Make it happen. Put your nose to the grindstone. Work your ass off. Try. And never ever give up.
I once believed this was true. Surrender was something I only did after everything else my ego knew how to do had failed. Once I had exhausted every available option, I would fall to my knees, usually in tears, and surrender to the Divine.
Now I know there’s a whole other way to live, where surrender isn’t a last ditch effort once you’ve given up. It’s a spiritual practice wherein you surrender first, not because there aren’t actions to be taken, but because you trust that living in alignment with Divine Will is more easeful, more gratifying, and ultimately more fulfilling on a deep soul level than constantly chasing after the ego’s ever-grasping, never satisfied desires.
This Is Not the Law of Attraction
Maybe you’ve already realized the insanity of trying to push, strive, and make things happen in the traditional way, and so now you’ve traded it all in by practicing “the law of attraction.” Instead of grinding away trying to get what you want, you’re now visualizing, vision boarding, and affirming that which your ego wants in order to “manifest” what you desires.
But isn’t that just another form of “doership?” Now, instead of pushing and striving, you’re pushing and striving in your efforts to manifest your desires. What if there’s a whole other way of living? What if, instead of attaching to what your ego desires, you’re willing to let the Divine take the lead, allowing whatever is in the highest good come into being, regardless of what your ego desires? What if you’re willing to offer all your desires up to the Divine and then be brave enough to follow the spiritual guidance that directs you to the highest, even if you’re lead away from what you think you want? Would you be willing to trust that something higher than your ego has your best interests at heart? Would you be willing to let your Inner Pilot Light take the lead in your life, instead of keeping your ego in control of your decision-making?
As Tosha Silver taught in our second retreat with the doctors of the Whole Health Medicine Institute, it’s not only possible to offer up your desires and problems to the Divine; it’s actually a much more magical, miraculous, and fulfilling way to live. But this is not an easy concept for a group of doctors to grok! Try telling doctors that it’s not their job to attach to curing the patient, that it’s not their responsibility to assure a perfect surgical outcome, that they don’t have the power to cure cancer or save someone from heart disease, that instead, they have the opportunity to allow their very skillful hands and minds to be servants of Divine Will, without claiming any credit for a “good” outcome or blaming themselves for a “bad” one! This doesn’t mean these doctors won’t do everything within their power to achieve the best possible outcomes for their patients. But it does mean that instead of praying for a perfect outcome, they pray that whatever is in the highest may come into being. They pray that they may be vessels for Divine will, in whatever form is in the best interest of the soul of the patient.
This year’s graduates of the Whole Health Medicine Institute Physician Training program TOTALLY get this, but it’s such a radical way of practicing medicine—such a radical way of practicing life, for that matter—that we have to make it a daily practice. See if you can sense the peace in living this way . . .
Opportunities for Surrender
If you’re struggling to succeed in your career . . . surrender your desire to achieve and ask instead that you be used in service in whatever way is most aligned.
If you’re sick and in pain . . . let go of your attachment to cure and accept what is, right here, right now, without resistance.
If you’re yearning for true love . . . give your longing over to a power greater than you and trust that the perfect lover is already picked and you will meet this being in Divine timing, when your soul is ready to give and receive unconditional love.
If you’re trying to get pregnant . . . offer your desire to be a parent to the Divine and be willing to mother in whatever way the Divine wants to use you.
If you’re in the midst of a contentious divorce or you’re getting sued or your house isn’t selling . . . trust and let go.
If your computer crashes or the market crashes and your bank account is dwindling, surrender.
If you long for a new car or a new apartment or even just a parking spot, offer it up to the Divine and watch for spiritual guidance that will lead you to whatever is most aligned for you.
Any unmet desire that’s burdening you, any problem you think you have to solve—try surrendering it over to the Divine as an offering of trust.
One thing Tosha taught the doctors this weekend is that putting this concept into practice in everyday life gets easier if you banish the word “my” from your vocabulary. If you’re afraid of losing “my” money or having a bad outcome of “my” surgical case, you’re going to grasp and attach. But if you know it’s God’s money and God’s surgery, you trust that it’s safe to let go. If you’re struggling through a divorce, it’s likely because you’re grasping at “my” house and “my” retirement account and “my” child. But what if it’s God’s house, God’s retirement account, and God’s child? As Tosha said to meduring my divorce, “You’re suffering because you think it’s ‘my’ books, ‘my’ business, ‘my’ kid. But you wouldn’t have shit if it weren’t for God’s largess.”
When you realize none of it’s yours, that you don’t get to claim or even keep any of it, when you’re willing to let go of attaching to anything you consider “mine,” you’re suddenly free. There’s no need to grip or grasp. As Tosha says, “The very act of grasping for the feather creates the wind current that pushes it away.” Ironically, very often—but not always—when you let go, that’s the moment you suddenly get exactly what you want. But you can’t choose to live this way for egoic purposes! The motivation must be pure. Let go because you trust, not because your ego is grasping at this spiritual teaching as yet another tool to get what it wants.
Surrender Isn’t Passive
This is such a counter-cultural concept that most people resist letting go. Our culture teaches us that letting go is for sissies. Winners make things happen. Winners hustle. Only lazy people and losers surrender. Surrender sounds so god damn passive, right?
But letting go of attachment to the ego’s desires isn’t lazy or careless or the action of a loser. It’s the bravest risk you’ll ever take because it requires you to trust in something the ego can never quite accept—that it’s actually safer to let the soul lead instead.
Letting go of attachment doesn’t mean doing nothing. Once you’ve offered over your desires and problems to a higher Source, you’ll often find yourself leaping to take inspired action. But this action arises not from the gripping, grasping panic of the ego but from the relaxed, peaceful, creative problem solving and inspiration of the soul. When you’re brave enough to try this, you’re likely to find that everything becomes easier. Your desires become simply preferences, and your only real desire becomes your wish to let the Divine use you however best serves the highest good.
Putting Surrender Into Practice
Part of the beauty of this way of living is that it takes away all the anxiety that might normally accompany something like the launch of a new program. Let me give you an example of how I’m called to practice surrender in practical ways. We announced that we were accepting applications for the Class of 2015 for the next Whole Health Medicine Institute Physician Training program. And just as we launched, our server crashed and the website was inaccessible. My team started to panic. Oh no! Computer problems! Who can sign up if there’s no sales page?
Then we remembered . . . surrender it all. Surrender the computer problem. Surrender our desire to fill the program with twenty perfectly aligned doctors. Surrender any idea that the program is “my” program. Give it up. Let it go . . .
So we did this as a team. If we’re meant to do this program again and fill it with the 20 doctors we hope to attract, the website will come back up. If not, well . . . none of it is “mine,” and I trust that if we’re not meant to do this, we’ll be guided to do whatever else is most aligned. We’ve turned the whole program over the Divine, knowing it doesn’t belong to us anyway, that we are merely the hands being offered in service to whatever is in the highest good for everyone involved. (God willing, if you’re a doctor interested in this program or you know one who is, you’ll be able to read the invitation here).
Living this way takes constant practice. I have to remember what I’ve learned from my spiritual teachers at least twenty times a day, because my habit of grasping and doing and pushing to solve problems is so ingrained after years of cultural brainwashing that I have to keep remembering to surrender over and over. But the more I do it, the more quickly I remember to let go. Surrender is no longer something I do as an act of desperation after everything else has failed. It’s something I try to do within minutes of identifying a desire or encountering a problem I think I need to solve. As Martha Beck says, “Cave early.”
When you choose to live this way, a surprising thing happens. Your anxiety goes away. Not always permanently. You may have to be reminded over and over. But when you’re in the zone of trust, anxiety can’t co-exist.
So I challenge you. Are you ready to release anxiety. Are you willing to cave early? Would you be willing to be this brave? I dare you . . . but only if you’re ready to attain inner peace and find yourself awash in joy . . .