No word has been as illuminating for me as much as this year’s word of the year, Surrender. I had no idea how much of a gift it would be when i chose it. I harboured mixed feelings (and some negative connotation to it going in) that i knew it would be a revealing word. I was very hesitant to embark on this year-long lesson and am so grateful for it.
Alongside this year-long study of Surrender, was the Chariot, the 7th card in the Tarot deck. I love how they held the fort for me. This year was my year to surrender to the path not yet taken – the divine mysteries, and to let the path be there ahead of me.
I sat with how we use surrender in everyday language. Patriarchy has made it seem like a loss and so it typically holds a negative connotation: To surrender my passport or freedom like when people have to ‘surrender themselves’ to the authorities. I now see that something is beautiful because it has been surrendered, and the acceptance is what happens is what it is meant to be. This is the way of surrender.
One of the key takeaways is in the reframe of it – it is not giving up but rather letting go of something that isn’t supposed to happen. We must surrender what is not ours any longer. This allows us to let go of who or what you were and are no more.
I don’t think i have ever noticed how much the word shows up – in our written word, in conversation, in song. In fact, if you want an album to play alongside my article, just have a listen to Maggie Rogers latest album – Surrender. It has been my anthem this year. I got all nerdy and sat with the word in its root: “Sur ender” – does that mean under the surface? Or is it to render to do or make into being. It is to become into myself and accept or soften or sink in land. I like how these sensation-based words help me really embody what it feels like to surrender. Over and over again, i would see the word in print and it would make me pause and re-read it. I would hear it in song or conversation and i would linger in it, coming back to it in my head so i could mull it over. Whenever i told others what my word ways, i would also get a recognition and nodding of the head as a way of agreeing with its mysterious hold on us.
“Many of us find it difficult to access a state of rest, surrender, or letting go. It requires a deep sense of trust and safety that we will be met, held, supported. In a somatic sense, yielding is the state of surrendering our weight to gravity, and the relationship between our bodies and whatever we are in contact with (be it the earth or another being).” ~ Marika Henricks
“When we surrender control, we’re able to grasp what’s needed to do our job.” ~ Rachel Macy Stafford
“Feminine surrender means holding soul truth so tenderly in your heart and so deep in your womb. Knowing without a doubt it is meant for you and will manifest for you – in it’s own way and on it’s own time.” ~ Marissa Lawton
“Along with my full-bodied, ecstatic “YES” to this new life, there was also a terrified, shame-filled, embarrassed “no” all at the same time. Surrender often meets us in that way; we are standing at the edge of a new life, and the inner conflict is excruciating. Parts of us are simultaneously moving in opposite directions….If I could have surrendered, or even told the truth sooner, I would have. If I could have done it better, cleaner, slower, faster, or with less harm, I would have. I resisted the truth until the final hour. I couldn’t let go until I could. And I devastated us all because the person I was deceiving wasn’t my ex-husband, or my now ex-lover.. it was me I was lying to. (It’s usually me I’m lying to).” Madison Morigan
The first step in my year with surrender was to unpack the root of the word word. Now at the end of this year, here are me takeaways:
Surrender is Patient
The act of surrender is unique to each given moment. When we surrender in the reality of a here and now moment, we are intentionally present right here right now. This is a practice of Radical Acceptance – it is what it is. When we give ourselves this awareness, it allows us to become comfortable and feel a sense of ease.
I have been using my Wild and Sacred Feminine oracle deck all year. The card River shares that “each act of surrender, no matter how small, brings you into an inviting ease with the flow.” It connects us to the river: River ask you to take stock of your relationship to the laws of surrender. For some, it could be graceful, and for others, feels relentless, like a struggle. River shows you what it is like to follow the path without resistance. Whatever happens happens, hold onto your real work and what is most important and liberate everything else.”
This is who I am meant to be; a trust in this life force that is guiding us to surrender and be who we are supposed to be. It is truly spiritual, and not something that can be just thought of – it has to be experienced in the fullness of our mind body soul. I think that was my biggest lesson – surrender is a spiritual portal.
It was when i started to track how it lived in my body that i started to truly understand it. Giving up is a sinking feeling in my gut. Acceptance like this is a soft landing like a feather finding its way back to home.
Surrender is the Opposite of Control
In the article The Art of Surrender the author reflects that the opposite of surrender is control. She unpacks the need for control, and what are some key ways to release it. To start, we need to reframe the usual question of ‘why’ to ‘what’ – like what can i do instead of why does this happen to me? She offers a helpful morning breath meditation with at least 10 breaths when you feel out of control and also an acceptance of making peace your priority rather than perfection, or productivity. Finally, she reminds that it is ok to not know understand everything and to try to trust the process.
It is about ceasing the resistance i held onto because of the desire for control. So surrender is about accepting what is beyond my control and this practice gives me a felt sense of expansion – though I don’t always know which one lands in my body first. I think expansion and the deep sigh out (or relieve) is the sensation and surrender is the thought i hold with it. It is tether to a felt response in me as the receiver with wonder, awe and appreciation.
When i give up an unhealthy hold of control, i can allow things to be just as it is: To not force it, to not force the hand. When i did this, i practiced a new way to accept that things will come back around again.
As it also accompanied a year of transition for me, i think it was all the more meaningful. In my discovery of it, it showed me that surrender is an embodied intention that is tethered to trust in myself.A trust in myself and who i was becoming. When we surrender into the acceptance of who we are becoming, it is a felt sense of understanding. The initiation feels more like an answer to the evolution of who we are becoming as opposed to simply giving up who we are no longer. There is space for trust that outweighs the fear. It is also tied to feminine energy – the idea of being okay to let go and be in flow is an essence of the feminine path, which is ultimately tethered to trust. Marissa Lawton shares that surrender is embodying a “bone-deep trust that what is truly meant for you is already yours if you can simply sit and hold the space for it to arrive.”
Surrender is Love
I began to see that surrender was not attached to fear or giving up, but rather the opposite – courage and love.
“Love rests on two pillars: surrender and autonomy. Our need for togetherness exists alongside our need for separateness. One does not exist without the other. With too much distance, there can be no connection. But too much merging eradicates the separateness of two distinct individuals. Then there is nothing more to transcend, no bridge to walk on, no one to visit on the other side, no other internal world to enter. When people become fused—when two become one—connection can no longer happen. There is no one to connect with. Thus separateness is a precondition for connection: this is the essential paradox of intimacy and sex.” ~ Esther Perel
I learned a new word when i realized how loving surrender is – biophilia: to surrender to our innate instinct to love anything that lives. I felt this so strongly when i was in France this summer – meeting new butterfly friends, and eating fresh juicy figs right of the vine. I felt this way too whenever i was in water with my family – my love for them is boundless when we play in the water together. So, i surrendered my body up to the experience, a bit like a living sacrifice.
It was with this new-found awareness that i started to wholeheartedly connect more to my spiritual self, and tend to my soul this year. I realized i love this part of me, and it is what has been hidden for so long. I got in my own way before, and was afraid to love this part of me. Through this devotion, ritual and ceremony became a big part of my life. I realized how much the concept of Surrender coincided with this. When we move into a more seasonal and intention way of living, that is accepted the way of the cycle, or cyclical living. Our animal and plant kin remind us of this all the time – this is so liberating and a embodied felt sense of sovereignty.
Love is also tethered to forgiveness. So another practice of Surrender is to work towards forgiveness, of ourself or others. This releases the hold the pain has on us, without condoning the other’s act of harm. Forgiveness is the spiritual and psychological release the pain had a hold on us over. We are free from resentment as well as the power the other person had over us. Grief is connected to forgiveness, as much as it’s to surrender – i think one dance i have been learning is the shift from the grievances i have surrounding my mom’s death and trusting that i can surrender to the feeling of grief, as it’s a sign of my love for her – i don’t have to drown in my sorrow to do so.
The best gift i have given myself this year is to intentionally walk with Surrender – it has allowed me to truly surrender to the experience of my own life. It has been a reclamation – and a practice of standing firm in a practice that was vulnerable and yet transformative. I am a new person on this other side of my dance with surrender.