The Art of Surrender

There are years that ask questions and years that answer
— Zora Neale Hurston

Whilst sorting through my inbox recently I found this quote that I’d sent to myself years ago.  It resonated with me so strongly and as I considered it, I realized that 2017 has really been a year that has asked a lot of questions.  

Where am I going?  What shape do I want my life to take?  How do I want to show up in the world?  How can I best be of service? Is this situation really serving me anymore?    Does what I’m currently doing align with my Truth?  What IS my Truth?

Questions that once upon a time would have intimidated me in their magnitude have found ways to manifest in my external reality, gently encouraging me to define and redefine who I am, what I stand for, what I’m moving towards and what I want my life to look like.  It’s been an exhilarating process but I am constantly being reminded that whilst having a ‘what’ and a ‘why’ for your life can be a beautiful thing, it is letting go of the ‘how’ that is most important – and most challenging!  It is part of our human nature to have the desire to maintain an element of control.  For me especially!  I love to plan things, I like making to do lists, it always feels good to have something to work towards.  But when we make a commitment to allow life to flow through us, to lead from the heart and not the head, we must learn the art of surrender.  We must learn to relinquish a little more of that control.  We must learn new ways to make decisions based on feeling and intuition rather than ‘The Plan’.  As the saying goes, we make plans and the Universe laughs.


Some of the most beautiful experiences in my life have been the ones where I entered into them with a clear intention in my heart but no expectation of how that intention might manifest, remaining completely open to whatever might unfold. Our lives are a co-creation with the Universe - part conscious intent, energy and effort and part surrender, fluidity and receptivity.  We may start at Point A, aiming for Point B but remaining open to the flow could land us at Point D – somewhere we’d not even considered possible! Nothing in Nature moves in straight lines, life is not such a linear process.  It dances, it spirals, it twists and turns in ways we would not have imagined and to try and go against this natural flow and ‘do’ Life rather than ‘be’ Life can leave us feeling frustrated, exhausted and demoralised.   As the answers to all these existential questions bubble into our awareness, we must remain open to the fact that our dreams may not manifest in the ways that we imagine, in the order that we imagine or in the timeframe that we imagine.

Let go or be dragged
— Zen proverb

For me personally, I’ve even had to let go of how I think I should let go and when I think I should let go!  I’ve had to understand that letting go is simply the beautiful practice of returning to the present moment.  Of returning to the breath and to the signals of the body.  Noticing what a ‘yes’ feels like as it causes your energy to rise and your heart to stir and noticing how clear a ‘no’ can be if you listen closely.  Letting go means giving the irrational, intuitive parts of ourselves a little more airtime, a little more breathing space, a little more credence.


There is a beauty in planting the seed of your intentions and allowing the mysterious process that is Life to take care of the rest.  Imagine a beautiful flower that has been entrusted into your care.  First you plant that seed deep in the Earth.  Yes you water the seed, yes you nourish the soil, you may even move the seedling somewhere if you realise where it is planted doesn’t best serve its growth - but you certainly don’t try to control how the roots grow down into the Earth or how the shoots reach up out of the darkness towards the light.  You don’t fret about what exact shape the petals will take or whether the stalk will bend at the desired angle, you simply create the right conditions for this magnificent, mysterious process to take place. The force that causes the lotus petals to open is the same force responsible for our own unfurling.  Perhaps we can begin to think of ourselves in this way, ever growing towards the light.  Perhaps we can find a way to see ourselves as both the gardener and the garden – tending to our ever-changing needs with care but trusting and surrendering to the innate unfoldment of the Universe of which we are all a part.

Here's a beautiful poem I found that illustrates the process perfectly:

Ty Evans Akingbola