What is surrender?
If you have traveled for many miles or just a few steps into the spiritual path you must be familiar with the concept of surrender used ever so often is spiritual circles. In a Kundalini awakening, “Surrender” is an essential part of making peace with this force and living with it in balance. The meaning of the term "surrender" though can be misinterpreted easily and is worth breaking down for that reason. We can’t talk about surrender without understanding resistance first. Why do you need to surrender? To what/whom? And what in you is resisting or fighting and thus “needs” to be surrendered?
Much of the resistance we experience during Kundalini isn’t conscious, mostly we aren’t even aware we are resisting anything at all. “Resistance” can be extremely subtle and is a natural subconscious mechanism. When Kundalini pushes against that subtle resistance, you may be feeling pressure and discomfort or internal agitation and yet not recognize there is any resistance to Kundalini in your system. At that point, you may not know that a form of "surrender" or a “letting go” will bring you some relief. “Surrender” is just that; a letting go of sort, an allowing or a loosening of a clenched muscle, be it physical or emotional or energetic. It does not mean you did or are doing anything wrong and need to surrender yourself, it also does not mean you need to succumb to some greater power and feel defeated, although your ego might interpret it in this way.
Living in this contrast reality we inherently resist a lot in order to keep a separate self. In the most basic form, gravitation is form of resistance to outer space that helps us stay on the ground, without that force we would be floating in space uprooted. Similar to that, we have our own inner gravitational force that keeps all of our conditioning, core beliefs and a sense of self in place, and that is what we call our "self". Resistance also helps us stay in our seats at school when we desire to do anything but, it is a subconscious tool that helps us function in society and keeps our sense of "self" intact. It is a great survival tool, yet when we wish to grow beyond the "separate self" and into our essential Self, it can be a hindrance.
Kundalini asks us to surrender, not in order to break our spirit or submit to her, but in order to expand our perception of “self” and of reality, to widen our gravitational force and move above our survival selves. Holding tight onto any idea is in a sense resisting all other ideas or the lack of ideas altogether. Hence letting go of that idea would require releasing the tight hold we have over it. We are unaware that we are clenching a muscle in an effort to hold on, and we don’t know how to let go. Surrender is a learning curve and a skill we develop over time. I can't stress this next part enough; surrender can only come with trusting that what we surrender to isn’t going to harm us and that is something we have to develop with Kundalini (more about how to develop trust with Kundalini here). Surrender is an unconscious process, which we can consciously assist. I don’t believe we can surrender as a conscious action; rather something inside lets go when it feels safe enough or too exhausted to fight. All we can do is help ourselves feel as safe as possible and learn to understand this process better, learn to trust that something will eventually give and the internal pressure will subside. We can also practice knowing that it’s okay to resist, so that we don't fight our own resistance or think that there is something wrong with us. Surrender isn't a graceful process so if you are in pain, crying or kicking and screaming and don't know how to stop, know that you are on the right path.
The process of surrender ( in a Kundalini awakenings):
Learning to recognize resistance when we are experiencing physical or emotional discomfort is the first step. This is Kundalini's way of letting us know it wants us to release something, once we recognize it we can participate consciously. We then can make a conscious choice to trust in Kundalini, remembering she never actually harms us, and let her show us what we are holding onto that is causing this immense discomfort and how to let it go. This process can feel like walking blindfolded in a labyrinth upside down. Trial and error and a decision to trust as much as you can, is all you can contribute at this time. Letting go may feel like a piece of us is being ripped away, as we have been holding onto something for so long we mistake it as a part of ourselves. This can feel excruciating since although what we are holding onto maybe destructive or limiting for us, we don’t know that until we let it go and gain perspective. This is why surrender is a blind trust choice for the protector aspects of ourselves. Trusting blindly, without proof, is a very difficult thing to do, especially for those of us who have been hurt or betrayed during our childhoods. In this case, trust goes against everything we know, against what makes us feel safe or in control in the world. For all these reasons the process of surrender takes time, and for some can feel like a continuous inner battle. Surrender doesn’t happen overnight, each surrender process that can take days at a time. Release as much as you can each day, no more, and rest assured that relief would eventually arise. Surrender is a big part of this journey of expansion and is most likely to be repeated many times over its duration.
I can assure you this: Surrender in the context of your awakening isn’t a power play. Kundalini does not want you to “submit” to her will, as she is a part of you. Many of us have been hurt or controlled in the past by our parents, authority figures or a religious upbringing that painted a picture of an omnipotent God asking the human to succumb to His will or be punished. Considering this, we may have a hard time challenging our perception of surrender and may find ourselves in a fight-or-flight mode with Kundalini more often than not. Surrender only means letting the moment be as it is, letting the changes in us unfold. Agreeing to soften our grip just for a chance that we may be holding onto something that isn’t serving us anymore, just for a chance that we may find a deeper truth than the one we feel so comfortable with. Resistance and fear of change are human attributes. Understanding the source of your resistance can help you be gentle and be less demanding of yourself through a surrendering process. Remember that resistance is inevitable, its a part of our make-up, yet Surrender is immanent and whether you know how to "do it" or not, it will happen.
Steps to assist with the process of surrender:
- Mantra: Repeat a surrender mantra, especially when you don’t know what you need to release or how: “I surrender, I let go”. If the word surrender triggers you, use instead: “I am safe, I let go” or “It is safe for me to let go”. You can create your own mantra.
- Prayer: Pray for help and guidance of how and what to let go of and for the coming release to be as gentle on your system as possible.
- Breathe work: Breath into the pressure or agitation in your body. Give your body permission to open up, to soften its muscles and let Kundalini through where it feels stuck. You can comfort your body through this release and promise it that she won’t hurt it, that she means your body no harm. Be gentle with how much focus you bring into an area, depending on how much fear and anxiety arise. You can do a little bit each day, don't be a hero if it's too much. You can also use general breathing exercises to help your nervous system relax and come out fight-or-flight.
- Ritual: If there is a stubborn pattern or belief you don’t know how to let go of, you can write a letter detailing the pattern and release it to the universe by physically burning the paper in a ritual. Alternatively you can visualize the pattern with as much detail as you are comfortable with, it can just be a blob. Give it to a guide, an angel or a spirit animal you work with. I personally use an owl in my visualizations as a messenger to carry my old patterns back where they came from.
- Allowance: Surrender can sometimes just mean allowing this moment to be as it is and allowing yourself not to know how to fix what you are experiencing. You can admit that you have no idea how to surrender, and that you are feeling powerless against what is being asked of you. Admit to how awful you feel, scream at the universe if you feel it, allow yourself to hate this moment if needed. You may not be able to “surrender” something big today, but can you allow this moment with the pressure or discomfort and the misery to be as it is? And the next one after? This honesty might bring more relief than you would think.
- Visualization: Try visualizing yourself falling backwards from a cliff into the arms of a divine figure of your imagination, someone you trust or feel will catch you or visualize yourself catching you instead. Only do this exercise if you have no real phobia of heights. It can help release subconscious resistance.
- Voice your resistance: Say yes to your no. Yes to any pain you are feeling, anger, frustration, panic, sadness and so forth, let your resistance express and voice itself. Say yes to your resistance and validate it. If it feels like hell right now, let it feel this way, don't tell yourself you are supposed to be feeling better and try to force yourself to be any different than you are, this can only make the surrender process more excruciating, thinking it shouldn't feel this way. Write or journal the voice of your resistance, ask it what it's trying to protect you from, converse with it, don't treat it as an enemy.
- Somatic release: Sometimes unconscious resistance can be released by allowing your body to shake. If shaking isn’t your thing, try dancing loosely to whichever music feels right, intense or quiet music, and give your muscles and body permission to release anything old. Think of this as letting scar tissue melt away and leave your cells.
- Another form of somatic release is massage therapy. If you don’t feel comfortable being touched or feel to vulnerable in this time honor that, try taking baths with Epsom salts.
- EFT- Tapping can be helpful for some.
- Cognitive understanding: Write a list of why you don’t need a pattern you feel is being brought to the surface anymore. Another helpful list is to write how this pattern serves you, even if it’s a destructive one. Try to find the hidden reason why you would feel that you need it. Once you accomplished both, you can decide if you really still want to keep the old pattern. Is what you get out of it worth what you lose? Think of an alternative way to get this need met. Mostly, during surrender in Kundalini you can't access you cognitive faculties as much as usual so this might only work before or after a big surrender wave.
Surrender is a complex process. Learning how to let go when all we have been taught in life is how to hold on tighter takes time and practice - for you, for your body and for your unconscious mind. Remember each “surrender” process may take time no matter what you do. These deeper wounds and patterns have been a part of you for many, many years and that takes time to undo even if you are the hardest working individual and use all the tools in your surrender kit. Give yourself permission to both resist and let go. Give yourself permission not to know what is being asked of you. You can’t fail at this, that being said, give yourself permission to feel as if you failed. Fighting with all your might doesn’t make you less spiritual and letting go doesn’t make you weak or defeated. When you feel like you can’t take anymore and you feel like giving up - give in deeper. Feeling yourself touching upon the barricades of your defenses, brushing against your own resistance is a sign of progress, although it may not feel so at the moment.