“Surrender, at its core, is the willingness to meet life as it is, to stop fighting with or trying to change what is so, right now. And remarkably, no matter what the catalyst, or whether it is a moment’s surrender or a lifetime’s, the result or gift that accompanies it remains the same: relief, gratitude, grace, and sometimes even joy.”
– Nancy Colier
Sometimes all the positive self-talk in the world doesn’t change the fact that some situations leave us stuck. During these times, despite how much perspective we try to have, we just can’t help but feel wedged between a rock and a hard place. If you’ve ever found yourself in this position, and chances are if you’re alive and reading this right now you have, then you’ve experienced that sinking feeling of running out of options. Rather than give you a pie-in-the-sky approach to managing those feelings or improving that situation, we have another alternative – surrender to what is.
If we think of our life as a constantly moving river with rocks, waterfalls, and ebbs and flows along the way, these moments (where we feel like we don’t have options) can seem less like a river and more like quicksand. The more we fight and rail against what’s happening, the deeper we seem to sink into a funky mood and disheartened state of mind. It’s when we stop internally battling with these uncomfortable situations, that we can get back to the business of living our lives with peacefulness and joy in the present. This doesn’t mean we neglect our responsibilities or become willfully delusional about our current circumstances, but it does mean we stop trying to move against the current and just deal with the river as it currently is. More often than not, it’s not only the situation itself that is causing our distress but more so the fighting against it that makes living in it so much more uncomfortable.
QUICK FACT: THE BEST WAY TO GET OUT OF QUICKSAND IF YOU'RE ANKLE OR KNEE DEEP IS TO SLOWLY SIT DOWN.
AND IF YOU'RE WAIST DEEP, LEAN ON YOUR BACK.
With quicksand and in life, when you feel desperate and out of options, don’t panic about sinking. I know this flies in the face of all common sense, but it’s true. You’ll sink if you start wriggling and flailing in quicksand, but you’ll float if you spread out on your back. According to damninteresting.com, “In reality, quicksand is very rarely more than a few feet deep, making it more of a messy nuisance than a life-threatening hazard. Exhaustion is the biggest risk, considering the amount of energy it can take to untangle oneself from the waterlogged soil.” The takeaway here – don’t expend unnecessary energy! And that's exactly what we do when we fight against what is currently happening and don't trust the process to unfold as it should. In surrendering to our situation, we are then able to relax and stay peacefully afloat amidst all circumstances.
Again, when we surrender it doesn’t mean that we do nothing. It simply means that we focus on the areas of the problem that we can control and move from a place of empowered peacefulness rather than a fearful tantrum. A tantrum is what happens when we don’t like something and fear is when we start to think (and even worse, believe) the worst about our circumstance. These things will only add to that sinking feeling and worsen the situation.
A NOTE: There are multiple ways to solve a problem and some may be more unconventional than others. Be sure that the option you choose moves you carefully out of the quicksand, keeps you in line with your moral compass and gets you to a place where you can finally regain your footing.
This week we’re encouraging you to relax in what is and to eventually become comfortable with that. And just so you're not tempted to thrash about and do something to fix a current problem, read the quick story below that nicely sums up the spirit of surrender. Outside of reading the story and ruminating on its message, no further actions are required.
THE BLACK ZEN TEAM
The Path of Surrender Over Struggle - Granville Angell
There is a story about two young monks proceeding on a journey by foot to a distant village. At one point, as they crossed a bridge, the bridge broke and they fell into the river. The first monk, frightened at finding himself being swept along in the swollen river, began to struggle and soon drowned. The second monk accepted his circumstances as he watched himself being carried far off his path by the turbulent waters, not knowing when or if he would ever be able to get to shore. He removed his heavy, restricting garments and flowed along with the river. Making his way toward shore at a comfortable pace, he enjoyed the passing scenery on the banks. After a time, the river took him to a point where the current slowed and the monk found himself standing on a sandbar at a bend in the river adjacent to a village. Feeling grateful for his adventure and his delivery there from, he entered the village to inquire as to how he might get back on course toward his destination. To his great delight, he found that the river had delivered him to the very village he was seeking.