The Art of Surrender

What happens if you stop Pushing the River -- get out of your own way, and let yourself be carried in the direction of the answer you seek?

Are you struggling to make something happen? Are you torturing your consciousness for direction? Are you begging for assistance with a difficult decision?

Are you interrogating your spirit guides and guardian angels -- TRYING with all your might -- screaming for help, feeling desperate, frustrated -- but hearing no clear answers?

I get emails almost daily from many of you who tell me over and over again that you want to connect with your spirit're working so HARD at it...and you're not hearing them. You're not receiving the answers you need.

These emails always break my heart a little bit. This week, I've felt especially powerless -- because I've been pushing my spirit guides, and feeling panicked by the maddening combination of noise and silence. It's like writer's block meets clairaudience.

Today, I'm just not feeling like much of a pro. Of course, I seem to have no problem listening on behalf of others, and delivering messages of faith and anyone but myself. I'm feeling angry right now about my skills as a relay medium -- I can perform as a medium for YOU -- but it never fails that when I demand assistance and information for ME -- instead of letting it come -- I find myself flailing in a spiritual quicksand.

As I struggle, I'm looking at those email messages and these articles I'm sending out to you and -- honestly? -- wishing they were for me. To some degree, they simply have to be.

So, I'm listening, just like you are; I'm not sure about what I'm hearing. Because I KNOW that trying too hard only makes it worse, I'm beating myself up about THAT too... I'm spinning my wheels in a Purgatory of indecision (or maybe it's a Special Place in Hell just for hand-wringers...)


If you've ever been white-water rafting or kayaking you're familiar with the dangers of recirculation -- this is what occurs when you are dragged into a whirlpool of force where water falling from a shelf of rock goes to the bottom of the river, and instead of moving downstream, is pushed back up, under, and behind the fall.

Think "undertow" at the beach -- only it never stops. A whirlpool, turned sideways -- just like the Wheel of Life -- and you're stuck UNDER it.

It's terrifying. Your fight-or-flight response kicks in and every cell in your body demands that you struggle upwards, toward the air and light -- which is AGAINST tons of physical force. It's like swimming upstream, only worse, because it's all happening UNDER water. You literally don't stand a chance of kicking or pushing against this.

Everything your body learned about how to swim is challenged. If you keep trying to swim, you will drown. And this conflict of instinct and training and logical decision-making is taking place in a heartbeat of time, beneath dangerously cold water, against the force of being hit by a bus hundreds of times per second.

If you're thrown overboard and recirculated, the remedy for the situation is actually extremely simple and requires absolutely NO exertion of strength whatsoever. The challenge is a mental decision -- one that must transcend all physical action and the survival instinct of the body.

If you fight, if you continue to struggle, you'll die. If you react to the river's force as your enemy it becomes one.

It's no accident of vocabulary that the captains of your white-water rafting voyage are aptly called River Guides. They will instruct you to paddle forwards or backwards when they say so, where to shift your weight... and they will tell you what to do if you fall out of the boat and, God forbid, find yourself being Recirculated:


Go limp. Do not struggle, do not try to swim, do not push with your legs, do not grasp with your hands, do not pull with your arms. Do not even think about breathing. Curl into a fetal position.

The river will spit out a recirculated object -- especially one wearing a life jacket. No effort is required on your part, yet doing NOTHING is the hardest action to take.

The Universe -- the Flow -- is a River and your soul is a flotation device. The mortal vessel -- the body -- is a machine that will obey the mind and the will.

Is your thinking mind dragging your spirit under and keeping you there?

The hardest actions I've ever personally had to take -- in life-or-death situations -- have all been forms of Surrender.

Surrender is simultaneously the easiest and the hardest thing to do. The art of surrender is most critical at times when all other options -- even the ones you think are the only way to survive -- amount to suicide.

Maybe the turmoil, the churning waters of the Flow in which you find yourself right now, are not life-or-death -- you can still breathe, can't you? If you can breathe, you've got everything you need to make it through this moment.

Muddy Waters

Imagine that the problem your mind is gnawing at is not a raging river, but simply a shallow pond or a still pool of water. And let's say there is a bright coin you wish to locate on the bottom.

Your thrashing around only stirs up mud from the bottom, creates foam that obscures an otherwise clear surface... You're MAKING the waters murky.

Is the sun still shining? Do you know the coin is there somewhere, within your grasp? What happens if you just stand still for a moment until the water around you calms, and the silt settles? The particles of anxiety and complication are no longer helped by your actions.

Your Best Course of Action May Be No Action

And it makes the future success of locating that bright coin as easy as looking down through the still water, where it now winks at you and says "Here I am!" It's right there at your feet, and then all you must do is reach down and pick it up.

Maybe the waters are deep, and you will be required to take a big, deep breath, close your eyes and aim well, and swim to the bottom... When you know exactly where to dive, the discomfort and effort becomes focused and manageable.

Surrender does not mean you will never do anything again. Surrender doesn't mean that you turn it over to God and that you have no further role to play, or that you won't be required to wait for your cue and THEN act with focus, intent, and rested power.

You've seen the silly scenes in movies or cartoons, where someone who can't swim falls in the water and thrashes about screaming and panicking -- before realizing the water isn't deep enough to drown in, and all he had to do was stand up.

You can drown in a bathtub. You could -- technically -- drown by sticking your head in a bucket, sink, or toilet.

Mortal Tantrum?

Are you acting out of desperation right now? Slapping the water and stirring up drama and screaming and spluttering "Show me! Show me! Show me!"

"Where is it?! Where's the answer?! Oh God I can't see it, I can't find it -- I'M BLIND!"

Chill, sister. You don't have to change your life this moment. You don't have to decide today. You don't have to move a mountain RIGHT NOW. The River can move mountains, it can level them and turn them to rubble, over time. But even if it starts immediately, you won't miss a thing by letting your pillow take your troubles, just for a few more hours...

Stop pushing the River. Stop standing in and dam(n)ing your Flow. Be carried to your answer.

You will be Moved, it's inevitable. You can float and rest, or you can thrash and scream. It changes nothing except the state of suffering you choose in the interim.

God IS Change. All Is As It Should Be.

How to Make Decisions from a Place of Surrender 

Once when I was trying to decide between two distinct and different courses of action, my friend Mandy shared a strategy with me:

When you can't decide between two directions, simply choose one of them -- totally at random, if that's all you can manage -- and begin moving into and toward that decision. If it's the WRONG turn, it will be revealed to you almost immediately. Choosing the wrong direction, you will quickly start to run into road blocks, see signs that you've missed your turn... Then all you have to do is turn around and go the Other Way -- and you can correct your decision with confidence.

If you make the right choice on instinct, or luck, the steps will unfold effortlessly and you simply continue.

I finally stopped interrogating my spirit guides and demanding a clear answer.

"Would you please calm down and shut UP and LISTEN for a minute?" They said. "Would you please take a deep breath and let us show you?"

Fine. I was actually relieved. I was exhausting myself. I went to bed and told them that I was through nagging and begging -- I'd simply do nothing until the waters settled, and I could clearly spot the bright coin.

The next morning, the answer I was looking for was there -- in an email, of all places, from one of the best on-going sources of spiritual guidance any of us can hope for -- a message from a friend. One of the lines he gave me was:

When faced with the need to change the best answers usually come from doing nothing.

Seek Wisdom - Practice Love