Occupy Sanity Tool (OST): Surrender
I’m sitting here writing this in pain. I’ve decided to pull out my Occupy Sanity Toolbox to find something to help, not with the physical pain, because I’ve done all I can to reduce/eliminate it. Instead, I’m looking for a tool to help me with my biggest challenge in life particularly in 2020.
I think McCall Erickson sums it up best:
“Surrender: Giving up what we think should be happening for what is actually happening.”
By definition, surrender is to stop resisting to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority or give up or hand over something on demand. Synonyms include give in, give up, relinquish, and submission.
At first, I think to give in, give up and relinquish means to lose control and, as a consequence, power. And the mere thought of submission causes me to cringe. Yet, I’ve learned through experience that using the OST: Surrender gives me power.
Control: The Grand Illusion
“Life is a balance between what we can control and what we cannot. I am learning to live between Effort and Surrender.” – Danielle Orner
Leo Babauta writes in his article: The Ridiculously Awesome Practice of Surrendering:
“…we are always seeking control, because we don’t like uncertainty. At all.
We want to control our day, so we have routines, schedules, systems. We create systems for our work, try to get control over our health through new diets or exercise programs, try to control our relationships, our future, our finances. And there’s nothing wrong with any of this … except that it’s a bit futile to try to control the uncontrollable. It’s like trying to build a building out of water — you keep trying and keep trying, but it’s just not a solid building material.”
I continue to learn that control over EVERYTHING is an illusion. I think I create this illusion to stave off the reality that life is uncertain.
Attempting to control everything all the time creates a cycle of futility, which ultimately leads to stress which can harm our health and well-being.
Sometimes it’s not the times you decide to fight that matter. It’s the times you decide to surrender.
Over time I have found that surrender is a practice that enables me to feel more in CONTROL. When I relax into the way things are and reduce my efforts toward changing them, I experience the power of possibility in this present moment. Leo Babauta tells us that:
“Surrender is all of this and more. It’s openness, full presence, awareness of what’s happening, curiosity and immense appreciation. And it takes so much less energy than control.”
Freeing up energy means I can find my way into the flow of life, where the real power lies. As I open myself to the uncertainty right here in this present moment, I see the possibilities are limitless. I don’t need to dive in all at once to the void; instead, I can use some of the Occupy Sanity Tools I have in my Toolbox to help me cultivate the Power of Surrender.
5 Occupy Sanity Tools To Ease Into Surrender
1. Mindfulness. Have a look at the OSTs: Mindfulness and STOP for some steps to create more mindfulness. I’ve also found another exercise to use to surrender to what is: The Five Senses Exercise. I look for
– 5 things I can see,
– 4 things I can feel,
– 3 things I can hear,
– 2 things I can smell and
– 1 thing I can taste.
As I progressed through this exercise, I focused less on the pain. With this expanded view of the present moment, I felt grounded enough to use the next tool.
2. Fear. Often when I’m in pain, I begin to catastrophize about the future. I turn the current moment into an endless stream of what else could go wrong, imagining that I will be in pain forever, concluding with some form of agonizing death. When that happens, I know it’s time to take out the OST: Fear and ask: Who’s in the Driver’s Seat? I may have let Fear have control of the steering wheel. If I need to, I’ll do some Box Breathing to bring me back to the present moment. Once there, I can thank Fear for sharing and send her into the back seat. Now I can use the next tool.
3. Love. To use the OST: Love, I ask the question WWLD: What Would Love Do? With curiosity, I breathe into this question and wait for an answer. Do I need to lie down? Do I need a massage? Do I need to take a walk? Do I need to take a bath? Do I need to go to the doctor? Do I need to appreciate myself for even asking this question? Do I need to unplug from my screens and BE in this moment? Once I have this answer, I can take out the next tool.
4. Pause. Perhaps the OST: Pause seems like an obvious choice, but not an easy one when dealing with pain. With this OST, I practice The Sensitivity Cycle from Hakomi Therapy, which is on a continuous loop of Clarity – Effective Action – Satisfaction – Relaxation. As the ‘Relaxation’ phase comes before the ‘Clarity’ phase, I pause to notice that there are parts of me NOT in pain. I can surrender into what is: not all of me is in pain. As I relax here for a moment I move on to the next tool.
5. Gratitude. Now I cultivate more surrender by completing a Gratitude attitude exercise.
Step 1: I set a timer for 5 minutes.
Step 2: I finish this sentence ‘I am happy and grateful for…’ the fact that only part of me is in pain, the sun is shining in the window, I have a comfy bed & pillows, and I have Arnica cream & an ice pack at hand. Etc…
Step 3: At the end of the 5 minutes I stop to check in with myself. I felt relaxed, more expansive and at ease. I repeated this exercise many times and observed that I could be with the pain easier when I surrendered.
I would love to hear more about how the OST: Surrender enables you to let go of control and find more power.
“When the going gets tough, the tough simply surrender” ― Davidson Samuel