Ground Yourself

Because surrender can be particularly strong, please take a moment and ground yourself. Become a tree. Go for a run. Breathe deep into your heart until you feel balanced inside. Listen to music. Call upon helping forces in your life. And remember to fuel and follow your intention one step at a time.

From Giving Up to Letting Go

Dating back to Roman times, surrender has often been depicted as a white flag waving in defeat. In a world where societies competed to survive, losing a battle threatened existence. "In the old days, if you surrendered your country, you surrendered your life. They were met with abuse, those surrenders," said Jyoti. Surrender meant giving up power and losing control.

In many ways, we're still living in a brutal world where we fight to the death over limited resources and surrender can mean annihilation. We only need look at the past ten years of war in the Middle East and Africa for confirmation. At the same time, there are other places around the world, usually more Western or developed countries, where surrender is evolving. Perhaps air travel, the Internet, and global financial markets have intensified interdependence so that devising mutual benefits feels more secure than a winner-takes-all gamble. Maybe as the standard of living has increased for a sector of people, the high stakes surrounding surrender no longer apply. Or maybe by connecting more across different cultures, we've realized a kill-or-be-killed mentality will destroy the very diversity we all need to flourish.

However we've arrived at this new awareness, many people no longer equate surrender with literal death. This eases the fear around surrender. And what happens when we loosen our grip of control around a fear or belief? There's room to grow meaning. Surrender can evolve into a philosophical and even spiritual exploration. Jyoti said, "We're starting to see what it takes to surrender our own ideas in order to embrace more ideas coming from different directions. So we can see the false things and let them go." In an And world, neither surrender nor death is wrong. Surrender no longer represents only a battle for survival. In fact, as death's representative, surrender doesn't have to mean giving up at all. This creates room to hold death differently. Surrender can become a choice to let go.

And yet, shifting to an And perspective regarding surrender doesn't eradicate fear. At first, choosing to let go can feel frightening. The fear of death is directly linked with the instinct to survive. Here, our relationship with fear as a teacher reminds us that this isn't about killing the fear of death or the urge to survive. I don't believe it's possible or wise to try eliminating these normal healthy instincts. Instead, I encourage you to notice what scares you about letting go without allowing fear to take the driver's seat in your experience. Your intuition can help you sort through thoughts and feelings regarding your fear of letting go to develop wisdom. Sound familiar?

Besides being a physical loss of life, death also contains the energy of change. We've seen how a physical birth can mirror changing consciousness. Birth holds the beginning point of transformation as a form of expansion. Death does the same thing from a different direction, which means that death holds the end point of transformation — the moment of completion.

Here, the teachings from earth-based and women's spirituality help me question some assumptions. What if life isn't a linear process that begins at birth and ends with death? What if instead life moves in a continuous spiral that includes beginning, middle, end, and beginning again, just at another layer of existence? What if birth isn't first at all? What if death sometimes precedes a new life emerging? If a woman doesn't shed her skin through menstruation, she can't grow a baby inside. In gardening, pruning dead leaves is necessary for plants to thrive. In fact, gardeners call compost black gold, as dead organic material produces an especially vibrant garden; rotting greens help turn a seed into a vegetable.

The earth and a woman's body each cycle through death to generate new life. What if developing consciousness mirrors the natural world? To become whole means we need to consciously remember all our parts. Perhaps we become stuck or immobilized because we haven't developed a conscious relationship with death as a part of life. How can we move forward if we don't know how to let go? We've forgotten to compost the wisdom that lives inside death. Practicing surrender can teach us how to hold death so we can cultivate life in a different way.

Exercise: Contemplate a time when you held on to something (a relationship, perhaps) with a death grip to keep it alive. Remember when you chose to let go of something that was dying. How did each situation work out?

Staci Boden in Turning Dead Ends into Doorways