By A. Charlotte Rose
When you think about it, one of the things we love about romance books is the great surrender that occurs between the characters. They start out with a conflict between them or conflicts they must find a way to surmount and, ultimately, they surrender to what is happening. They often also surrender to amazing sex. When everything is said and done, and they find their happy ending because they surrender to one another.
Sometimes it involves compromise, fighting, battles, insanity of some sort–but we surrender to their stories and go on the journey with them.
The most basic surrender is letting go of the things that are in the way and not trying to control everything anymore. We love when our characters learn to do that and, frankly, I think we long to be able to do it too. And in our everyday loves, we long not to not have to try to control everything when life is spinning out of control. And to surrender to our desires, passions, and need for more peace and calm.
Dr. Judith Orloff has an awesome new book on this topic, called The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your Life.
She knows that most of use are longing for more ease and joy in our lives. That we push so hard, and try to force things to happen or make things work. We struggle daily with jobs, relationships, family issues, and life issues. We have worries and burdens. Dr. Orloff believes that as hard as it may sound at first, surrender is a key to lasting, positive change in our lives. Just as our favorite characters surrender to their happy ending, we can too.
“Once embraced, surrendering removes roadblocks and the exhaustion that comes from trying too hard,” she says. and it helps you achieve goals more effortlessly and brings ongoing happiness.
We sat in on a chat with Dr. Judith Orloff about the practice of surrender and her new book. Here are some of the insights she shared.
Here are links to all versions The Ecstasy of Surrender.
Question: Many people think of surrendering as something negative. They see it as giving up. What do you mean by surrender and how can it benefit us on a day-to-day basis?
Answer: I am so passionate about writing a book about surrender because, as a physician with more than twenty years of medical practice, I’ve seen that it is the missing part of the equation to happiness and health. I’m intrigued with the idea of surrender, not as defeat or loss—as it is frequently thought of—but as a positive, intuitive way of living. Contrary to common stereotypes that equate surrender with weakness, I’m presenting it as a way to gain mastery of your life. People don’t think surrender will work because they fear giving up power. In this book I want readers to experience the elegant balance of knowing when to exert control in their lives and when to let go. This is the secret to success and bliss.
Lots of people strive to keep all aspects of their life in control at all times, but when a crisis hits, such as job loss, relationship difficulties, or problems with a child, they spiral into anxiety or depression. What would be the first thing you would suggest they do to start healing and relieve stress?
The first step to healing is to realize: As much as we might like to control everything, everything cannot always be controlled. Accepting this will lead to inner peace. Of course, it’s natural to feel depressed and anxious when adversity hits, but the art of surrender allows you to exhale instead of clench. It’s important to surrender to the love that is around you for support. Mighty forces can come to your aid when you humbly surrender to life. This doesn’t mean giving up or giving in—it means accepting what is and trying to do your best with as much faith and hope that you can muster. And above all else, shower yourself with compassion. Know that life goes through cycles of change, and you can ride through like a surfer navigating a magnificent wave. Accepting life on life’s terms—learning to flow through joy and adversity—is the gorgeous dance of life.
Over the years you say you have personally learned to trust the process and surrender to those things you resist or fear. You have gone through some major tests in life! What have you learned and gained by surrendering? Are you always successful?
Surrender is my lifelong meditation! It keeps all of us healthy, younger, playful, more passionate, and flexible. I have only touched the surface of surrender. It’s natural to slip back to your old ways of overcontrolling.
What if someone tries to surrender, and they manage to do it for a day, and then feel themselves creeping back to their old ways? What can they do?
Be happy with baby steps. It is important to celebrate small changes. Don’t worry if you slip! Just pick yourself up and keep moving! Be grateful that you are making progress at all. Surrender is a journey that continues to awaken you. When I began the holy journey of writing this book, I longed to experience surrender more than anything else. Now, as my writing has concluded, I see how generous this book has been to me, how much I’ve softened and learned to let go. Surrendering has been the catalyst for my growth, even when it was terribly inconvenient and unsettling. This is where faith and trust come in. When you can flow with change, the results are incredible. I am in the midst of radical change—a great blossoming for which I am profoundly grateful.
We live in a fast-paced world and let’s face it: sometimes we get caught up in emotional traffic jams. You say that people can be blocked in different areas of their lives. Relationships. Money. Health. Sexuality. Does the modern world and pace set us up to struggle with letting go? Is there a way to embrace the modern world and the surrender at the same time?
When you choose to practice surrender, you are being a revolutionary, a path forger who is willing to challenge cultural norms. Western culture’s habits of overintellectualizing, overcontrolling, and pushing so hard that you sabotage and exhaust yourself do not work. In this book, I invite you to live life in extraordinary terms and to devote to your practice of letting go. Every moment of life is so precious—the modern world, your inner world, your soul’s journey. In this book, I urge you to surrender to it all. I encourage you to give yourself some time away from mundane reality (even five minutes each day!) so you can replenish your energy and faith and grow stronger. You need to be strong to function in the world. When you can spiritually, emotionally, and physically surrender it takes so much pressure off! And you can feel bliss. Yes, bliss!!
Are some people just not able to practice surrender? What if you are just too afraid of surrender, of letting go, or too set in your ways?
Everyone is capable of it if you can surrender to the magnificent mystery of life and to your magnificent self!
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