Hurricanes, Surrender and Miracles: The Art of Letting Go
I had started packing for my annual retreat/vacation when the news of Hurricane Dorian came through. Oh no, I thought, not two years in a row! Last year, the place I had booked was hit hard by another hurricane – and I couldn’t go at all.
For someone who loves to have her plans made, and everything set (read recovering control freak!), having this time interrupted – yet again! — was a challenge. Especially because this is when I do my deep recharging for the work I do with others.
This year was different
But this year was different — I was different. Instead of railing at the weather, becoming hugely anxious, and running around in 5 directions, I simply surrendered. There was an underlying peace that while this retreat wouldn’t look the same – might not be in the same place or even the same approximate dates – it was perfectly okay.
Coming from that place, cancelling all my travel reservations took some time, but was very simple. Everyone was accommodating; I was able to cancel with no penalties. My process from there has been a gentle looking at other places and options in the pockets of time I’ve had available, while also holding on to hope that my trip might just be postponed for a few days.
What a difference from the past! And it’s also a testament to the efficacy of the Wounded Healer work I have done with my teachers in the past few years. It really works!
Polishing your Surrender
One of my teachers calls the whole personal and spiritual path the process of polishing your surrender. I’ve seen it time and time again in my own life and in the lives of my clients. Polishing your surrender is working on letting go control – layer by layer.
What does that look like? One image: consciously putting down your end of the tug-of-war rope. Another way of polishing your surrender: acknowledging that you cannot control everything, and asking Spirit for help in letting go.
Control arises out of fear
Control is the mother of all belief systems. It also always arises out of fear. That means letting go of control – polishing your surrender – can be counterintuitive, or even feel downright scary. It can be very uncomfortable.
This is especially true for those of us who got through childhood trauma through control. In those situations, anxiety rules, and anxiety usually covers much deeper fear. We ultimately tried to control ourselves and everything around us just to keep at bay the anxiety or fear of not being safe.
It doesn’t have to be so difficult
Let me share something that will totally surprise many of you. When you truly surrender, it frees up so much space in your entire being. Instead of holding on by your fingernails, you simply relax. Instead of being on a hamster wheel of emotions and jumping into a flurry of actions (or whatever your particular version of trying to manage situations is), you have a calmness, centeredness, and peace.
Surprisingly, so much that you could have made difficult through pushing or trying to control just sorts itself out. You feel an equanimity – the ability to maintain a calmness or balance in body, mind, emotions even in the midst of difficult circumstances.
As a recovering control freak, I can tell you that this equanimity that comes with working the Wounded Healer path, and with polishing your surrender over and over again. It is amazing and lifegiving. It’s also hard won.
Am I able to live in this space 24/7? Absolutely not – I’m human.. There have been a couple situations just recently where I wasn’t able to be in this space. But every time it is possible — every time I somehow get past my old patterns and just let go — I feel so expansive – and grounded and centered. This is the space I want to live (most of) my life from.
Letting go Control
The work of letting go of control, polishing your surrender is not easy. It dismantles one of humans’ earliest and most deeply held coping mechanisms. But it is worth the effort. There is so much more joy available – even in the midst of difficult situations.
While some of us are true (recovering) control freaks, every one of us has at least some of the control freak tendency, especially when we encounter difficult situations. Can any of us live in the space of surrender constantly? No. But we can inhabit that space more and more often.
Miracles do happen! The hurricane missed the area I planned to visit, the process of booking transportation was easy, and I will be able to go on my retreat after all. What a gift! So grateful – and grateful for the calm in the midst of the storm.
A Simple Surrender Practice
Next time you’re confronted with a difficult circumstance, or next time you find yourself working to manage or control a situation, take a step back. Take a deep breath, connect with the place in you that wants to jump in and control or manage. If you find that you’re breathing shallowly, take a couple slow deep breaths.
Allow, with no resistance, any emotions that are popping up, whether anxiety/worry, fear, anger, something else, or a combination. There is no need to stop any of them. As the Sufi tradition says, there is love available in each and every emotion you have.
Now take a minute to surrender. Ask for help. And then notice what shifts. I’d love to hear your experience of this!
With love and gratitude,
PS: If you are interested in healing what’s underneath your control patterns, and learning the joy of polishing your surrender, I have a few spots open for individual clients. Check it out here.