What if we stopped trying to make things happen?
I recently listened to the audio book “The Surrender Experiment” by Michael A. Singer. The idea is that instead of following one’s own preferences, one lets Life be in charge, and simply surrenders to whatever it asks us to do or puts on our path, whether we like it or not. The premise behind is that Life ultimately knows best what we need and what is most helpful for us in the bigger picture of our life. While we might turn down a certain job that is offered to us, because it doesn’t seem to fit our preferences, or because it would take us to a place we didn’t plan to go, accepting it might just turn out to be the best thing that could ever have happened to us, in ways that we cannot even imagine from where we are currently at. While we might fiercely hold on to a relationship, letting it go might allow us to find who we are really meant to be with. While we might desperately try to get pregnant, doing everything we can to make it happen, not being able to at this point in time might turn out to be a blessing in disguise later on.
This concept resonates a lot with me, because it basically requires something I have written about before: Unshakable Trust in the Universe. A trust so deep and unconditional, that you are willing to give up any control, fear or resistance, and simply surrender to the flow of Life.
This is a threatening thought to many of us. We like the notion of being in control, because we think control prevents us from pain and suffering. Yet in reality, the more we try to control the direction of our lives, the more we are bound to suffer. Life can never be controlled and it will never go “our way” all the time. When it doesn't, we inevitably fight and struggle, we are frustrated and feel that Life is unfair. However, if Life doesn’t grant us what we think we want, there is likely a good reason for it. Our mind is so limited, that it cannot grasp the big picture of our destiny, nor even imagine all the great plans and miracles the Universe holds for us - if only we let it unfold as intended. So the art is to take Life’s way and to make it “our way”. This is the true meaning of “thy will be”.
To live, to really live means to accept and to relax into the insecurity of not knowing what will happen in the next moment. If we can trust that whatever comes our way will be good for us, we can even start to enjoy being curious about it. The possibility that absolutely crazy things or even miracles could happen just the next moment actually makes living a lot more fun.
If I think about it, the most transformative experiences I had, and most of the things I treasure most in my Life have not come from myself, they have been given to me. I met my long-term partner when I was actually running after another guy. I met him here in Brussels, where I had been sent for my job. My beloved cat and soul-mate, Fannie, who came up to me at the animal shelter, was a 6-months young, female, greyish tiger-type kitten, when I had planned to adopt a 2-year old, red male cat. I spent 3 amazing years in Spain, because my company had sent me there. I left my job at this company because during a course in Traditional Chinese Medicine I met a woman who was into network marketing, and offered me to be part of her network. Even though this turned out to not be my piece of cake, I encountered the game-changing concept of Metabolic Typing while reading a book linked to this business. I got into corporate nutrition consulting because a friend from salsa asked me to take charge of his company canteen. I saved my health and fertility because Life forced me to stop running. I got into meditation and walked the Camino because my boyfriend raved about both…
I think the time I most consciously lived in “surrender mode”, was when I went walking on the Camino de Santiago for 3 months in 2013. I didn’t plan my days, I just trusted in Life unfolding, following my intuition and being open. And just like the author in the book, I had some pretty amazing and transformative experiences, that I would have never made, if I had tried to control everything, or stay with my personal preferences. For example, one night I couldn’t find anywhere to sleep. Everything was full because of a running competition. At some point, I just accepted, and actually even enjoyed the prospect of adventure. In a small village, I found a little hut that used to be the village’s public bread oven. I installed myself there, and planned to wake up early to go for a night walk, when a group of people passed by. Starting a conversation with them, it turned out that they were a group of runners who had rented a big house in this same village. They offered me their sofa to stay on. At first I was reluctant, because I had been so looking forward to my adventure. Yet I accepted and not only spent a lovely evening with them, but also got saved from an unexpected thunderstorm that night, which would have made my stay in the hut very uncomfortable, and the night walk impossible. If you reflect about it, I am sure you will remember lots of times and episodes in your own life that confirm this concept.
Listening to the book makes me aware how recently I have been more trying to make things happen again. If things are not moving at the speed that I want them to, I tend to get anxious, and think that if I do not take ANY action, nothing will ever happen or change in my life. So I get busy, almost arbitrarily spending lots of energy here and lots of energy there. Yet if I am honest, things would have been about the same, if I had just relaxed. What if I could simply trust, that I need to go through this phase right now? I could stop all that fight and worry and resistance, which would save me so much energy and allow myself to simply enjoy what is there and do what I do with focus and love. Like writing, for example.
Surrendering to Life does not equal being passive and waiting for people to tell you what to do. While things can indeed “come” to you through other people, they can also come in form of an inspiration, an idea, a knowing, a feeling, a book, something you overhear on the street… which can then inspire you to take action - if you are open to do so and do not miss them, because you are too busy making plans. It is like a dance: You do take steps, but you let yourself be guided rather than taking the lead. Leading, controlling and trying to make things happen is energetically Masculine, while following, surrendering and trusting is energetically Feminine. Neither is better than the other, even though we sometimes judge surrender as negative, because in our mind we equal it to defeat. Yet, collectively both men and women could use a bit more of Feminine energy. Especially if we want to conceive a baby, which is an inherently Feminine act.
Surrendering to Life does not equal having no boundaries either. Michael doesn’t tell us to say “yes” always, he tells us to say “yes” to what's already presenting to us as a reality, and to things that our ego (mind) would actually like to say “no” to. So in the end it comes down to being able to distinguish the voice of your mind from the voice of your soul. Also, Life usually will repeatedly ask you to do, or to not do something. So if you’ve been trying to make things happen for quite some time now, without success; If you’ve said once or even several times “No, I really do not want to accept this, I want it to be differently”, but it keeps coming back to you with the same demand or question over and over, maybe it is a sign that you should try saying “yes” for a change and see what happens.