After this past week’s elections, I’ve been thinking a lot about Michael Singer’s book, “The Surrender Experiment.” In it, he describes his life-long experiment with, and practice of surrendering to Life when Life clearly won’t let go.
In this case, “surrendering” doesn’t mean becoming passive. It doesn’t necessarily mean giving up. What it does mean is that we do give up the resistance to what clearly is. We give up arguing with Life, if Life is insisting. We let go of what we think should be happening, what we’d rather be happening, all the arguments for why what is happening shouldn’t be happening, who’s the blame for what is happening, our self-righteous indignation for what is happening – all that, and everything like that
Instead, we decide, as Elizabeth Gilbert wonderfully described in her Facebook essay “Who Do I Want to Be in This Situation?” well, who do I want to be in this situation?
Michael Singer gets there by meditating. I get there by letting myself go through all the feelings of outrage, plain rage, fear, grief, panic – whatever is in there that wants Life to be something else. Profanity Therapy works well for me, as do the less dramatic Energy Psychotherapy techniques and neurofeedback.
The point is, we get to decide for ourselves, in an ongoing way, what relationship we want to have with the situation at hand. If we let go of the fear, the anger, the sadness – all the ways that resistance shows up – then what opportunities does this current situation present for us to bring something we hadn’t expected to bring?
I don’t think there’s a shortcut to getting there, I think it takes some work to let go of the intense feelings we rightfully have about whatever is going on. But that’s the work. That’s the challenge and the opportunity. Facing all that inner hysteria and working through it, or breathing through it, is the only way to finally get to the goods underneath – the parts that have the gifts we were scared weren’t there or wouldn’t be enough to get us through whatever we’re now faced with.
I’m going through all that myself, every day. I find myself crying hard at the kindnesses and acts of courage I read about, as well as the terrifying predictions of a coming apocalypse. Whatever Life brings, I want to be there as myself – strong, clear, doing the Thing that only I can do. I want to find a way to thrive, to prove that there was a reason I was born now, in this Time-Space reality, and the same for my kids. We were born here, now, on purpose, fully equipped to deal with it.
It’s my responsibility as a human being on the planet, it’s my responsibility as a parent, and it’s my responsibility as a therapist. I can’t be a facilitator for growth and healing of others if I’m not willing to go down the scary paths myself. So down I go, and find inspiration and support in as many places as I can, because we’re all in this together, and we all need to support each other along the way.
Surrender. Terrifying, sometimes. Liberating, probably always. Who do I want to be in this situation? My decision.