The Dance of Surrender

Ultimately there is nothing I can tell you
about surrender except:
Having nothing and wanting nothing;
Not keeping score,
Not trying to be richer,
Not being afraid of losing;
Not being particularly interested in
our own personalities;
Choosing to be happy,
no matter what happens to us,
These are some of the clues.
The rest we learn with practice and grace.
Let’s Practice On!

-Swami Chetananananda


The practice of surrender may seem simple on the surface, yet for me it's one of the more challenging aspects of life. Whether I’m cultivating a dream, or persistently and diligently tending something I am passionate about, the more invested and close to my heart the endeavor, the more attached I seem to be.

How do we hold a clear vision for our life or work without holding too tightly to outcome?
How do we tend the flame of passion and feed it our attention without entangling ourselves in how things should be?

Regardless of how carefully I plan or how fiercely I work, study and devote myself, the mystery of Life will inevitably invite the unexpected to remind me, again and again, that I am not in control. When detours show up on my path, I often resist, push back, effort or will my way forward, striving to make a mark on my life, but more times than not my energy will wane and I, most certainly, will be asked to let go. To surrender to something larger than myself.

I needed the dance to teach me to surrender…to offer the ground from which I could practice how to ride the waves of change and stay fluid in my body and mind…how to skillfully navigate the realm of choice and empower my response-ability…how to embody, on all levels of my Being, the full creative cycle from impulse to activation to settling and dissolving. And from this ground I slowly learned to trust. To allow. To let the dance move me.

I may still push and pull on the fabric of my life, attempting to shape it to my own making, but the more I practice surrendering on the dance floor, the more consistently I can allow the mysterious, unseen forces to co.create the tapestry of my life - a tapestry woven of fluidity and grace, persistence and commitment, trust and devotion…on the dance floor and off.

Contemplation: Think of an experience in your life in which you didn’t see something coming or felt blindsided.  

  • How did you react or respond?

  • What action or inaction did you take? 

  • How did it play out? 

  • What degree of suffering/non-suffering was present as a result of your choices? 

  • Insert the practice of surrender into the experience.  If it was already present, how long did it take you to reach it and what transpired until you did?  What if the cycle time to get to the practice of surrender was shorter or immediate?  This is not to create regret, which misinterprets the value of all experiences. It is to create a new understanding of what is possible when we orient to curiosity and discernment rather than fear and ego protection.   

The Dance as Practice:
 If surrendering in life feels too high of a load, begin by practicing on the dance floor.  Explore, get messy and try again as you grow your capacity to be guided by the rhythms of each dance. Trust the dance. Trust your body. Start here:

  • Release - notice where there is resistance in your physical, emotional, or mental experience. Practice softening into the present, slowly and steadily letting go of tension by inviting more breath into the places that are holding. Notice where you’re exerting - on any level of your being - and release any effort. 

  • Engage - Fully participate in your dance by offering your full attention to what is arising. Stay curious, mobile and open to change as you engage your experience. Adjust to stay centered in your window of presence while exploring the edges. Remain a witness to all that's unfolding. 

  • Accept - Accept what is happening, while recognizing your free will and choice in response.