Surrender to God. How does that statement make you feel? Maybe your religion has taught you this lesson and you’re nodding knowingly. Perhaps you’ve adopted this as a personal belief and call it something different. For the rest of you, I imagine a reaction something like, “Nope, sorry, this one isn’t for me.”
I get it. That G word and the idea of letting go.
Wrapped in that reaction is fear of not having control, giving away power, or admitting defeat. These are normal and expected responses from the ego. The ego is not the bad guy, the ego is around to keep you alive, to protect you. And at times to thwart your growth, because there is nothing the ego likes more than staying exactly the same, all the time.
The last of the Niyamas, Isvara Pranidhana, translates to Surrender to God. It’s a really big ask. But before we discuss the nuances of this directive, let’s unpack this short and powerful sentence.
Surrender may conjure some of the weakened states associated with the phrases above, mostly relinquishing control of your own life. Vehemently holding onto the idea that you are in control of everything creates resistance to what could be and disappointment or even depression when things don’t go according to your plan. How many times have you planned the perfect vacation, date or event and everything went exactly as you laid it out? How many times have you planned the perfect vacation, date or event and nothing seemed to go as planned but it turned out much better than you could have imagined? The truth probably lies between these two questions and is largely dictated by your reaction or response.
Now for God. Whew. Big concept, lots of feelings around that maybe. If you have an allergic reaction to that word, simply substitute the higher power of your choice: the Universe, nature, source, or as Julia Cameron puts it in her book, The Artist’s Way, Good Orderly Direction. G.O.D. Consciousness. For our purposes, the name you choose doesn’t matter. What we are surrendering to is possibility, the process of life, synchronicity. How things unfold is not up to you and if you can release your grip on that need to control outcomes, you can enjoy the gifts presented in these situations.
When you are living in synchronicity with life, opportunities rise to meet you. The wind points you in a different direction that is much more meaningful than the road you currently trod. People show up as helpers and guides. Thoughts and ideas seem to magically appear. And creativity flows abundantly.
Getting to this point is something you can control. By letting go.
Surrendering to God is about leaning into the flow of life. Make your plans, set your goals, imagine your successes … then let go. Do the work but allow for the result of your work to be something different, something better, even.
Do the work and pay attention.
Do the work and let go.
Do the work and trust the process.
Allow yourself to be dazzled by the infinite gifts of the universe. All you have to do is let go and trust.
Allison Andersen is an owner of Red Sun Yoga, a global wanderer and a philosophy geek. She is the author of two blogs: AllisonsWanderland.com where you will find stories and photos of her travels, and EnchantedLife.blog a place for her to ponder life’s intricacies, inconsistencies and magic.