Surrender is a paradox. When we surrender, we actually achieve real and authentic power. How is it possible that we are more powerful in surrendering?
The Buddha discovered that the mind enslaves us in conditioning that is reinforced through the repetition of habits. Jesus was a revolutionary precisely because he represented a break from the rigid and repetitive ways of thinking that dictated his society. Krishna counsels Arjuna on the battlefield that it is in the present moment that we must master our minds, which keep us trapped in the vicious cycle of samsara, of the past repeating itself in our present and future. Two days ago, our Muslim brethren began Ramadan, which involves fasting, a ritual break from those things that keep us apart from God in each and every moment.
We are slaves to our conditioning. Our habits define us. We don’t even realize the ways in which we are gripped by them: Our friend says something, and we already know what they are going to say. We make the same commute in traffic, and next thing we know, we have somehow guided ourselves back home without even remembering how we got there. Our partner says something with a bit of a tone, and the next thing we know, we’re fighting the same argument we’ve fought a hundred times before.
Surrender offers us freedom from this conditioning. It is a recognition that we are trapped in our conditioned ways of thinking, speaking, and doing, and saying, “I know where this is going to take me, and I don’t want to go there anymore. I choose to give up, trusting that I will be led to a place I’ve never been before.”
It is a surrender to every possibility made available by the unknown. It is in this infinitude of possibilities that we derive power, a power that can only be accessed through surrender.
There are moments in life where one wakes up, looks around, and asks oneself, “Is this all there is?” … Is this the relationship I want to continue with? Is this the job I saw myself being in? Is this how I want to spend the days of my life? … These are the critical moments of tenderness and humility when we choose between settling and leaping into the unknown, between surrender and resignation.
I was once asked, “What is the difference between surrender and resignation?” Resignation and settling means that we have given up hope. It is the limited self no longer seeing any possibility beyond what we already know.
In contract, surrender is an act of wisdom. It is a profound acceptance of Life. It is saying “I don’t know” and putting all that we are into the hands of something greater than ourselves.
In this way, surrender is not an act of capitulation, but rather one of victory for our Highest Self.
Last week, I began my reflection on the power of the holy rosary by exploring the Joyful Mysteries. This week, I want to take a look at the Sorrowful Mysteries.
On the surface, the Sorrowful Mysteries refer to the last hours of Jesus before his Crucifixion. And although this is true, this set of sacred mysteries is about much more. It teaches us about resilience and the power of faith. In his example, Jesus teaches us the power of profound acceptance, of acknowledging that there are certain things that every human being, including Christ, must experience, namely suffering and death. More importantly, he teaches us what it means to surrender, to realize that, in the face of suffering and death, the only thing over which we have control is how we greet those moments that try our humanity.
WHO are we in the face of suffering and death? How can we BE with the inevitable trials of life?
In a few weeks, I will be sharing my digital mini-course on “Tapping Into the Power of the Holy Rosary.” This digital audio and e-booklet package is intended to introduce you to the basics of the rosary and how you can begin to use it as a object for meditation. Stay tuned!
This past month has felt enormously difficult, and I feel like my reaction has been to block out anything that threatens to disrupt the semblance of Balance that I’ve managed to achieve for myself through it all. Taking an honest inventory, though, I recognize all the ways in which wanting to survive through the day led to me being and doing things that, in a better space, I would not necessarily choose to do.
We get triggered all the time. It is a function of having senses that give us stimuli and a mind that interprets that stimuli based on past experiences, our current emotional states, aspirations, meta-narratives, and other thoughts. As a result, our humanity has us react: We suddenly get upset, angry, righteous, defeated, or insulted. Then we react again, saying things we don’t mean, shutting down, or acting in ways that we might later regret.
Yet, if I accept that triggers happen all the time – rather than acting from the place of “Why is this happening to me?” like I’ve been singled out by Life to be hurt – I begin to create enough space in my life to see that not every trigger requires a reaction. Not every situation need become a battle that needs to be fought (and won). …
I’ve written numerous times on the power of the present moment. And even though I rationally and intellectually understand that time has no relevance save for this moment … and this moment … and this moment, why is it that I feel like I can never fully dwell in it? The simple answer: It’s the mind. The mind naturally jumps from one thought to the next, from past memories to hopes/aspirations/ to-dos and back again. And the more we try to be here, we discover that in the grasping for it, it alludes us yet again. The monkey mind has already swung to the next branch.
So the million-dollar question that always gets me back to “now” is: What exactly is in front of me right here, right now? What sensations is my body feeling? What emotions are surfacing for me? What thoughts or ideas are crossing my mind? All of these answers without actually following any one of them in my mind.
The truth is there really is no other thing than what literally is right in front of me at this very moment. And in those moments when I think to myself, “Well, I’m stressed and that’s happening right now,” I have to remind myself that the stress itself is in response to my wanting my life, at this moment right in front of me, to be not what it is.
Hence, being mindful in the present moment is about cultivating a profound acceptance of Life.
“I can’t focus.” … “I don’t understand.” … “This wasn’t the way it was before.” … “How do I let go?” … “How do I be with this?” … “This isn’t the way I imagined it would be.” … “Something’s wrong here.”… As I deepen my mindfulness practice, one of the questions that has come up for me: “How do I stay in the present moment without grasping or holding on to it?”
The more we try to “be” in the present moment, the more it slips away from us. We’re too busy trying to have the present moment show up the way we want it to show up, rather than accepting it simply and naturally arising exactly as it is.
One of the things that has helped me to authentically be with the present moment is to ask myself: “How much of myself is really, right now, in this moment?”
When I ask myself this, if I am not truly in the present, it snaps me back into it. And if I am, it encourages me to be more mindful of bringing more to the here and now.