We know how the power of intention works. We focus on a particular desire or intention long enough and it will manifest. There are many versions of how this works but the premise is the same. This is something that we like to believe in because it gives us a sense of the power that we have in our lives.
The part of this process we know less about is the importance of surrender. This is a much scarier idea.
Many of us have real discomfort with the idea of letting go of control, disengaging our clever, cynical or protective minds and letting ourselves flow with “what is”.
This idea of having the power to create our lives through intention and the seeming lack of power of surrender seem to be a contradiction… when in fact, they work hand in hand to create the life we love.
Why Surrender is Difficult
We have been taught that surrendering is what weak people must do in the face of a powerful force. We mostly hear about it in the context of war – one side having to surrender (thereby losing everything) at the hands of a conquering oppressor.
This idea that is embedded in our psyche makes the idea of surrender quite difficult.
And then within our religious teachings, God is often taught to be angry, violent and jealous. On occasion there are teachings of a loving God. But many people have not actually experienced real, unconditional love in their lives. Based on their upbringing, love could mean anger, violence and jealousy. This of course, isn’t love at all… but it is still deeply embedded in our culture.
And so, we tend to live in the opposite state to surrender – a state of protectiveness, ready for the next bad thing to happen, ready to defend ourselves physically, emotionally and mentally.
So, how do we learn to surrender?
The Power of Surrender
The key is that we are not surrendering to anything like those things. We are surrendering to something much greater – the bigger picture that we are all a part of.
Sometimes, we have a hard time imagining ourselves as part of something larger. We tend to depend on our mind to understand the world around us. So, when we imagine what is possible in life, we often default to what our brain thinks is possible. However, our brains are filled with all of our past experiences, trainings and fears. This makes what is possible quite limited… when it isn’t limited at all.
The challenge is that we can’t quantify this greater picture. We can’t describe it in our normal words. All descriptions become very vague and somewhat “flakey”. But once we start having experiences of this reality, little seeds of “something else” start to take root.
There is often a point in our life where we experience our first “coincidence” that seems like it’s just too much to believe that it’s random. The experience opens us up to something – like a crack in our rational version of the universe that makes us wonder if we have all the information. And then another “something” happens that just doesn’t make sense. The right person shows up at the right time. You start to notice serendipity all around you.
When this happens, this is often the beginning of our “spiritual journey” in life. We start to study spiritual teachings to try to find a framework for these experiences that just don’t make sense in the secular worldview.
As time goes on, our connection to a deeper whole begins to strengthen. Bit by bit, we start to trust the serendipity more than what our brains and the world tells us is possible. We start having a kind of faith that things always seem to work out.
It is when we feel this connection deep within that surrender becomes possible.
Surrendering isn’t taking our hands off the wheel and just letting go. It is feeling and trusting that we are part of something much larger and more amazing than we can imagine.
All the Colourful Possibilities
So, let’s go back to the Power of Intention. Let’s say that we have an intention to be at peace, or happy, or in love, or fully utilized in our work (it is often more effective to focus on how you want to feel rather than what you want to have or accomplish). Our mind can only come up with a limited number of potential ways that we can manifest what we want.
But we are playing in an unlimited universe.
This is where surrender comes in.
If we don’t surrender after stating our intention, we will miss out on 99.999999% of the possible solutions. There are literally so many possible ways of achieving what we desire that our brains cannot fathom it. And so, we must surrender.
Of course, this surrender does not mean doing nothing. It means surrendering to inner guidance and taking steps towards our goal that we might never had thought of or imagined before.
The amazing bonus of this is that this is where life gets really interesting. On some level, when we live within the constraints and possibilities that our minds can come up with, we end up existentially bored. Although a part of us wants a certain amount of comfort in knowing what is coming tomorrow, after a time, we start to stagnate as humans. We stop needing to respond to the world around us. We stop needing to think and use our intuition. We essentially stop growing.
But when we surrender, we get to be continually surprised.
We get to wonder what the path will look like on the way to our destination.
It is like wanting to climb a mountain and asking a trusted guide to lead us there.
We get to relax, look around, be surprised, and enjoy the journey.