It’s difficult to imagine that there is power in surrender. Even one of the ways Merriam-Webster defines surrender, “to give (oneself) over into something (as an influence)”, feels dis-empowering. To give oneself over to something, like a committed relationship for instance, feels like you’re giving up your power, giving up a part of yourself. Most relationships have power struggles where there is a lack of surrendering. One partner might feel empowered by holding onto their position and defending it while the other resists. This is an example of “might makes right”. In truth, both partners lose because they are each holding back something in order to win.
In my early experiences as an athlete, my ideas about power were clearly not connected to surrendering. I had to work hard at getting the results that I wanted and then I could feel powerful in the winning of a race or in the winning of a softball game. The power was in the winning, not in surrendering. In fact, to me, surrendering meant you lost or you gave up. In the hurdle races that I ran, other competitors would come up to me and say, “I’m going to beat you today!” That was their goal. Mine was to continue my reign in the #1 power spot, the winner. I was not going to lose or surrender that position. This pattern was a deeply engrained in me by the time I started having relationships.
In 1996 I was going through a very difficult time in my life. My life was going in a direction opposite of my dreams and I felt that I was failing, falling apart. I was having a difficult time holding things together. I went to Belgium to study a new form of healing work. While I was there, I connected to the image above, entitled “Surrender”. I was moved to tears how peaceful the woman looked. I imagined that she in her state, could be with anything in her life so effortlessly. As I sat further with the picture, I imagined the veils were the ego or some form of inner control, and were falling away as the woman was surrendering. In the process of her surrendering, peace, serenity and pleasure came to her. My weary heart connected so deeply with this image. I felt the power of letting go of the trying and effort in my life. I felt this openness and stillness that was so deeply peaceful and full of grace. I felt the power of this surrender for the first time in my life. I was deeply impacted. I changed my life.
Recently I saw the movie, “One Track Heart” a documentary about Krishna Das http://www.onetrackheartmovie.com. I connected to Krishna Das because he willingly gave up his dream of becoming a rock star in order to find happiness. After moving to India and finding his guru, the saint Neem Karoli Baba, Krishna Das continued with his inner struggles although he deeply loved his master and sang to him quite often to his master’s delight. At his master’s sudden passing, Krishna Das fell into distress and into his old destructive patterns. He stopped singing entirely. At some point he realized that in order to fully heal his heart, he needed to feel the loss of his most sacred relationship and his love for him as well. He could do this only through singing to him. I was deeply struck by the way he expressed his love so fully through his music, and I imagined him giving himself over completely, surrendering to his most difficult feelings and his love at the same time. This is the power of surrender. This is the power of acceptance. This is the power of surrendering to life as it is, warts and all.
What is possible when we surrender in our sacred relationships? As in the examples above, surrendering creates a powerful transformation that opens up an incredible freedom. When we surrender, it means we bring our whole being into the present moment. When we’re present, we have all the power of our full capacities within our reach which we didn’t have when we were holding on. Imagine, all our capacities are right there. All we have to do is surrender! How powerful is that!?
By Valorie de Leña