The word surrender is probably one of the most challenging yet important inner states in which to be without actively making it into something we have to do. It can be achieved especially during the times we sit with ourselves listening to the silence--whenever we are meditating. Surrender is never forced or worked at. It just comes naturally when you have meditated enough and “enough” is different from person to person. The stronger the ability to surrender during meditation, the more it continues into our waking productive time. This then lends itself to giving us more clarity of mind, quietness of heart, strength in the body, and coherence of spirit.
Our ability to surrender to the present moment allows us to accept everything that is going on as what is supposed to be going on. Otherwise, we are always in argument with ourselves, fighting with others, pushing our way through as if our way was the righteous way. The more we surrender, the more we are at peace with the fact that we do not get to choose what we want if we disagree with what is happening. We can only choose to observe its existence. We can also choose to walk away. Or, we can certainly try to wage war, but usually at great cost to our health and happiness.
Resistance always creates friction. Acceptance does not. Accepting the current situation “as is” without wishing for a different outcome is not synonymous with liking it. No one says we have to like the situation. This is true for every aspect of our lives no matter what is going on around us. As Dr. Michael Beckwith reminds us frequently, the term surrender is not from the old war paradigm in which our hands are raised in submission where they win, we lose and give up. Surrender allows us to receive something greater that is about to find us or something grander that will unfold within us, bigger than what we can ever imagine.
Feeling extra restless on and off for the last week, I decided that every time I felt twinges of anxiety, I would stop whatever I was doing and just find a comfy place to simply sit down and start with slow deep breathing down into the belly, remembering that shallow chest breathing is associated with anxiety, fight or flight, and long drawn out breathing is what we do when we are in deep relaxation. Most of the time as soon as I sat down, I would admit out loud that I felt restless and anxious. I also made sure I didn’t elaborate.
Some moments along with the restlessness and anxiety were sprinkled with a profound feeling of sadness. Then, I start thinking about my childhood, all the things that I did and missed, and a bunch of other happy milestones, as if they were the best that I would ever experience. That’s the ego-mind at it again, trying to fool me. And, although I knew, as I coached others, that none of those unpleasant sensations were “real” but fabricated by the ego-mind, I could still feel it in every cell in my body--and, I knew that is the ultimate plan--to let it all in, feel all of it without judgment, so that whatever it was would be seen and released on its own.
My friends, being perplexed, asked me why I felt all that. They said encouragingly,
“You should be happy. It’s like taking a long overdue vacation. If we could be so lucky, we would gladly swap places with you.”
I know they are just being super supportive, but there’s that word, “should” which implies there is a right and wrong way. When we surrender, “should-ness” is released, as well. I realized once again that the grass frequently tends to be greener on the other side; but, isn’t that always the issue we run into whenever we compare ourselves to others? Well, why is it that we feel others have it better than we do and why is it that we cannot accept our current situation, whatever it is, as the correct situation in which we are supposed to be? Why does it have to be something else? Why do we have to be somewhere else other than right here? What can’t it just be what it is as we see and feel it?
Many folks still label unpleasantness in any situation as the reality of things and many still don’t quite believe that things happen for a reason and that if it weren’t meant to happen, it wouldn’t have happened. End of story. But no, we need justification. Well, it’s more like the ego-mind needs a reason. We need to feel that maybe we made the wrong decision or that we were victims of someone else’s actions, or that it was just a run of bad luck, being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Maybe it was the right place at the right time. Maybe this “bad” thing happened was what you needed to get you connected to someone or some thing so that you can get closer to what you wanted a year ago. But, our unconscious minds don’t work like that.
While it is true that we seem to be making decisions every second of every day, they are mostly stemming from the ego-mind. This concept is still not believed by the majority of individuals. I was one of them. I was a “regular” person one time. If I sensed something odd about the world around me or there were strange coincidences, I chalked it up to my imagination and that I was just lucky. Then, one day I received this interest (or calling as many consciously aware individuals refer to this as) to try to really learn meditation, having tried and failed over the years for a variety of reasons--too mysterious, too boring, what’s the point, does it even do anything?
I even asked an East Indian friend of mine back when I was in Philly what the term nirvana meant. He said that it was the highest level of enlightenment one could achieve through meditation. Yeah, I thought, gee thanks. I read that when I looked it up. I still didn’t get it. So, at first, I was just curious to see if I could learn this finally and gave myself a 100-day challenge. This was before I knew that it took 66 days to install any new habit (Robin Sharma). As I have mentioned in the past, there are a great many instructors who teach all different forms of meditation. What resonated with me and what I needed was something really simple. So, I accessed the first one that Kyle Cease put out on YouTube that year and proceeded to make this into my new project.
Little did I know that after about 2 to 3 weeks, I was actually looking forward to finishing up what I had to do so that I could go and meditate. I didn’t understand back then the reason why I started looking forward to this quiet time to myself. It was weird. How does anyone look forward to and get excited about sitting? I did and still do. But now, I’ve learned that each time the mind and body connect in stillness (not necessarily quietness as the AC or fan or other household equipment could be running or the sirens outside) something almost magical happens. Stuff we’ve suppressed for years comes up. Stuff from earlier that day comes up. Stuff we worry about that may come up come up. And then, they all just disappear.
Later on or the next day, similar or even the same stuff may come up again, which goes to show you how many times you must have hashed and rehashed those same topics in your mind repeatedly for God knows how long. And, every time we post our problems on social media or tell it to every single friend or acquaintance, we have effectively reinforced that negativity. Recently, in the last 6 months, there have been a lot of self-development and personal growth materials talking about people globally feeling a sense of uncertainty. The pandemic certainly had a hand in this. But, many refer to the pandemic as an external factor forcing us to cut off our old patterns of behavior, our social addictions and quick fixes, which had previously kept us from seeing the truth about ourselves and the world around us.
Being isolated for such a lengthy period of time forced us to reckon with ourselves, to find out who we really are. Were are lives merely replicas of individuals at the assembly line factory, in a quagmire of thoughtless deadlines and going through meaningless robotic motions as an excuse for living? When we were forced to isolate and be with ourselves, we were compelled to look at ourselves in the mirror as an opportunity to discover if we fulfilled our mind-set, soul-set, heart-set and health-set (Robin Sharma). If we made the money, were we mindful of our health and remembered to spend quality time with our loved ones? Did we look after our mind by taking on new projects and remembered about our health and vice versa? Were we mindful of our heart and health and remembered about our spirit?
Whatever our personal insecurity is, whatever the egoic mind is telling us, story after story, filling us with emotions sourced from a false place, the solution to our conflict and internal wars is easier than we think. What most people don’t realize and it has taken me some years to finally understand, is that everything is constantly on the move and changing, upgrading and none of that is directed at us specifically. If you’re still stuck on a question from yesterday, it has moved into the past and the world has moved on without you. It is as if 5 minutes ago, the sky was clear and suddenly the storm clouds finally decided to let pour all this rain but not because you happened to step outside, but it just is--pouring rain. But, you’re still complaining to someone that it was clear just 5 minutes ago. Nothing that happens is ever personal. At times it seems that way but that is because the ego tells us so. It throws us into a world of make-believe, into our own movies in which we are the actors.
Stress is something most of us can agree on--that it seems to exist. However, many still don’t believe that it is not some event on the outside attacking you. It is a neutral event that you have managed to bring inside your inner home. The good thing that comes out of all of this is that as actors, we realize that
“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players…”
This is a famous quote familiar to many. That said, it means that none of what we feel emotionally is truly real but merely what our egoic mind is identifying with. Whatever is real that comes through us creates no emotion, but rather holds a space of peace, joy and a profound sense of love for self and others. Many instructors and authors of the science of spirituality have realized this during their meditation and have written about it.
There are a great many things we cannot control that happens in our life but we can choose to change what we can and change our awareness of the situation. Dr. Srikumar Rao reminds us that “radical acceptance” prevents psychological suffering which begins and persists when we refuse to let go of the notion that other people and the world have to be a certain way, my way for me to be happy. We can change the scene in our mind if we don’t like what we see. Dr. Srikumar Rao quotes the following:
“Knowing that you are living in a dreamworld is very liberating, because it gives you the option of waking up.”
“Stress appears in your life because you have a rigid view of ‘This is the way the world should be,’ and the Universe pays scant regard to your desires. And you refuse to accept this.”
Take a few moments to read and really reflect upon these quotes and what they mean to you. You can journal that.
The take home message is that we need to surrender to what-is, or what Eckhart Tolle refers to as the is-ness of things. Being at war with what-is, trying to change what-is, wishing what-is wasn’t so, thinking if you had done something different what-is wouldn’t be what-is, are all futile and in reality unnecessary. Sometimes, the universe is trying to gift you something you asked for but with all the above strategizing you’re doing, you miss it and as the universe is fair and doesn’t play favorites, that gift then goes to the next person. The key to removing stress in our lives is to learn to surrender. Think about the following quotes from Eckhart Tolle:
“Stress is caused by being ’here’ but wanting to be ‘there.’
“When you completely accept this moment, when you no longer argue with what is, the compulsion to think lessens and is replaced by an alert stillness. You are fully conscious, yet the mind is not labeling it in any way. This inner state of nonresistance opens you to the unconditioned consciousness that is infinitely greater than the human mind. This vast intelligence can then express itself through you and assist you, both from within and from without. That is why, by letting go of inner resistance, you often find circumstances change for the better.”
“Surrender is surrender to this moment, not to a story through which you interpret this moment and then try to resign yourself to it.”
Again, take a few moments to read and really reflect upon these quotes and what they mean to you. Document in your journal.
And, one of the newest tool I’ve been using is his suggestion that we need to be true to what we feel. If I feel sad, I have to admit I feel sad but then stop there, no explanations, no if-then explanations or conditions that would make me feel better. I also resist the urge to call someone. I mean, what is that person going to tell you? That person will either tell you what you want to hear or not, but that person will never know what you’re really feeling because half the time you don’t even know yourself as it comes from the ego. Most of the time what makes us emotional is not the surface reason we think it is.
The real reason runs much deeper and can go way back into childhood. If I feel anxious or stressed out, I have to admit that I feel anxious or stressed out without a further story to follow. It is because the feeling is real and comes from the essence of who we are, but the stories are not. They are generated by the ego. Understanding that all emotions we label as unpleasant stems from fear, I then sit quietly, breathe, and pay attention to the silence and the white noise around me. My mind then clears stuff out on its own without my help. If my mind wanders off some place, I let it because it has a reason and I must respect that. That is how quiet meditation works.
I’ve had several people email me asking me if I found it difficult to understand what Tolle means. I believe that I understand what he means in this point of my life, because I’ve been meditating for a while. During the process of learning to sit still and to the silence, allowing the mind and body to do whatever, I began to question things but had no answers. They were questions like, “Why am I here? What is my purpose? What does this existence mean? Is this all that there is? What is consciousness? What happens to us when we die? Are we alone in this universe? What is space and how big is infinity?” Perhaps if I didn’t meditate and picked up one of his books, I may have found his writing to be gibberish, which interestingly enough, when “The Power of Now” was first published, it is said that Time Magazine labeled it as “mumbo jumbo.” It has since made it to the #1 New York Times Best Seller list.
My suggestion is, and it is just a suggestion, if the words to certain books don’t resonate with you, they you may not be ready or have that specific mind-set and that’s ok. For individuals open to learning and committing to meditation, a common thread develops and that is they all seem to know and believe the same things that the majority of people do not. I have come to realize that for those with an open mind, much can be discovered beyond what they taught us in school.
Meditation and Relaxation Tips
1) Sit up comfortably. Start with closing your eyes and then breathe in through your nose or through pursed lips for a count of 7 seconds, hold for 3 seconds, then let it out your mouth through pursed lips for 7 seconds, and hold for another 3 seconds. Repeat 2-5 more times remembering to follow the inhaled breathe down to the belly and fell the belly expand.
2) Begin accessing the Meridian points reviewed last week--the upper chest, the blade of the hand, under the nose (above the upper lip called the moustache area), lightly tapping your fingers on each area for 7-10 seconds and rotating the areas.
3) Add a new Meridian point by tapping gently with your fingers on the dip below the lower lip, where men grow the soul patch. You can use up to 3 fingers here. Again, stay here for 7-10 seconds while rotating with the areas learned above under 2).
4) What to say depends on what outcome you desire at this moment. If there is pain, avoid identifying with it. Perhaps accept it and encourage the area to heal. If you feel stressed, use intentional statements to remove the ego’s input. If you need encouragement to do well on an upcoming project or exam, design the words to suit it.
Examples of statements:
--Why am I so accepting of everything that is happening to me that I didn’t notice before?
--Why am I more than enough that I didn’t notice before?
--Why do I have more than enough that I didn’t notice before?
--Why am I so financially abundant that I didn’t notice before?
--Why am I in such awesome health that I didn’t notice before?
--Why am I such a fast healer that I didn’t notice before?
--Why are all of my needs met that I didn’t notice before?
--Why am I such a creative genius that I didn’t notice before?
--Why does so much love flow to me that I didn’t notice before?
5) You can then end the session by returning the fingers to a tapping position at the chest points and say, “I surrender to what is and I accept what is with love. I am filled with peace and joy this moment.” Repeat this 2 or 5 more times.
6) Then, drop your hands, place them to the side or whatever position is comfortable for you and go back to the breathing from 1). Count up from 1 to 20 and then open your eyes. If it is bedtime, count down from 20 to 1 with eyes closed and then go to sleep.
7) Remember to journal everyday even if you just write one thing that you feel grateful for and list some new things you want to do or learn with a simple next step you can do to move towards them.
Until next time, keep meditating, keep learning, keep feeling grateful. If you found any of what you read helpful to you or you think someone else may find some meaning in this article, please share and be sure to hit the SUBSCRIBE button--IT’S FREE! That way each new article that is published will automatically be placed in your email inbox.
If you have questions about anything in this or any of my previous newsletters, please write in the comment section.
With love and gratitude,
Celeste Amaya, MD