20 August 2016

Road to Surrender

Upper Dharamkot, Dharamshala, India
النص بالعربي

Last year, almost around this time, I was beginning to feel broken, hurt, abandoned, and almost hopeless. I found myself in ego-shattering situations, one after the other. The biggest thing that "saved me" and helped me get through was to surrender, to realise I don't always have to be in control. I don't always have to be in my comfort zone. Things don't always have to go according to my plan or wish. When I let go of trying to "be in charge", when I surrendered, it seems that I have welcomed the universe to deliver its gifts (ones beautiful beyond expectation), and myself to be open enough to receive them.

Having said that, I must say that the road of, and to, surrender can be rather rocky, especially when the ego-mind chatters loudly. One of my friends recently asked me a simple question; “How did you surrender, how do you stop that need to be in control and just let the world take you wherever?” This was my answer;

Diminish Fear
One of the main things preventing us from surrender is fear. Fear from losing (things, people, a sense of security, our identities, etc), fear from being hurt, fear from change, fear from the unknown, fear from not having what it takes to deal with that which we fear, etc.. This fear is mainly inherited and passed on to us (and sometimes still trying to be shoved down our throats) by our parents, bless them. Although there might have been a valid reason to practice a degree of fear when we were children, we no longer need that fear.

Fear functions here basically as an emotional "shield" that we wear to "protect" ourselves from being exposed (ref to Max Strom, A Life Worth Breathing, where he elaborates about the emotional “armor”), but it also works to block in feelings and block out experiences, opportunities and love.

Be Vulnerable
While we try to diminish our fears, one of the things we can do is allow ourselves to be vulnerable. All emotions are valid, all thoughts are valid and are part of our human experience. They are much better provided a chance to be expressed (preferably in a welcoming and compassionate environment, with us accepting ourselves fully) than suppressed. It may sound paradoxical, but when we allow our chance to be vulnerable, we are stronger.

We can start by allowing ourselves to be vulnerable between us and ourselves, then expand to also allow ourselves to be vulnerable around others, particularly those we love and trust. I sometimes visualize being vulnerable as having a wound and looking at it with love and compassion rather than hiding it, and showing it to a loved one to also provide love and compassion, without fear of the wound hurting more. We can practice being vulnerable simply by expressing ourselves, through talking, writing, painting, any creative form, or simply by accepting our thoughts and feelings without judgement.

A Drop in the Ocean
Another point is realising -because it IS a fact- that the whole world can survive and function well without our complete interference. We actually have very little control over how our lives progress. All that time we spend trying to be in control is futile, almost like struggling with a gigantic solid wall, because no matter what we do, we are but a tiny part of a vast, massively and complexly connected world. Everything affects everything, and even though we have a tiny role to play in how things go, we are but a drop in a sea.

One of the challenges here is that we think we know what's best for us, which we might, yet the universe keeps surprising us (me at least!) with experiences that we initially resist that turn out to be the "better" best things that ever "happened" to us. So if we don't even know what’s really “best” for us, we definitely don't really know what's best for others. This can be particularly difficult if we are assuming a role of control and/or wisdom, especially when you are a parent or spouse, because you are in a position of responsibility. There are some matters that require our effort, indeed, but after a certain point they are no longer in our hands. At a certain point, the borders of our responsibility end, they open up to the vast ocean that the universe is, which we are but a drop in. This is also a good reminder to let people be, to judge others less and accept people more, regardless of how “different” they are to us. When we let people be, we also learn to let ourselves be.

Surrendering to the “ocean” requires a degree of faith. This faith doesn’t have to be religious or affiliated with any particular philosophy. To "surrender" we need to surrender to something/someone. For me personally, my faith is in this big cosmic ocean that we are merely drops in, and what reminds me to keep the faith is "signs" I get from my guru, teachers, friends, strangers, animals, situations, sort of like road signs that resonate with my deeply rooted values.

I personally feel connected to all through love, and this love is what fuels the act of surrender. Speaking in more practical terms, when I find a situation/person challenging, I actually say to myself, with love and compassion, "I surrender to X", "I surrender to all that is", "I surrender to this experience", and the same goes when I feel helpless, or simply when something is beyond my comprehension.

We each view and practice our faiths differently, that’s the beauty of it, so see if you can derive faith from that which you believe in, and remind yourself regularly of it.

Here. Now. Bliss.
Surrender has been a beautiful journey, active mostly over the past 3 years. I feel so happy now, and what helps me to keep enjoying this happiness is believing that I deserve it, and rather than fear it, embrace it.

I feel blessed. By all the ups and downs. By all the things that left and those that stayed. This universe we live in is abundant in magical ways. There is always room for love to flourish, and love does wonders. In its own, crazy way, everything is perfect, whole, complete, always.

Here's a mantra I love that captures it all, and I leave you with it:
Purnamadah Purnamidam
Purnat Purnamudachyate
Purnasya Purnamadaya
Purnameva Vashishyate
Om shanti, shanti, shanti

That is perfect,
This is perfect.
When perfection is taken from the perfect,
Perfect alone remains.
Om, peace, peace, peace



editor said...

I love this. Thank you

arif z said...

Amen to that. Amazing

Balwazeer said...

Beautiful words Amal

prachi said...

Beautiful write up Amal!