Surrendering in the Face of Fear
“Sometimes surrender means giving up trying to understand and becoming comfortable with not knowing.” - Eckhart Tolle
Surrender to that which you cannot control.
Focus on your breath.
Take a few moments every day to meditate.
Stay in the moment.
These are the things I know are crucial to managing, even to preventing, anxiety from taking over. And yet, it feels like these are the hardest things to do. My fear is strong these days, making it challenging to surrender, to breathe, to meditate, and especially to stay in the moment. My thoughts are constantly on the go.
From the (seemingly new) dry drowning warnings, to the infestation of dangerous ticks, and of course, dangerous summer storm alerts on my phone (that are happening 500 miles south of me, but nonetheless must remain in the red notification box as long as humanly possible), it feels constant. I don’t think my stress levels have gone below ‘high alert’ since March.
My anxiety is heightened, my body hurdling messages at me left and right in the form of aches, pains, most of which are clinically unexplainable. It takes some time for me to get the message because I’m in ‘go’ mode. I just ignore until I can’t ignore anymore.
The problem is, when we sit in fear and use it as our filter, we can’t hear ourselves. We can’t use our own inner wisdom and intuition, and instead, use other people’s opinions and priorities as are own. And that usually doesn’t end up working too well. We wonder why we’re stuck, why we aren’t getting to where we think we should be, why our body’s messages of aches, pains and discomfort not only don’t go away, but continue to get louder. We’re not listening. We are not paying attention to what path is ours and ours alone.
Yet I finally got the message.
We recently took a quick trip up to the lake, where nature, despite the ticks and storms, still has a magical hold over me. When I truly surrender, I reach that pinnacle moment of peace. Fear not, it doesn’t stay long; it is as fleeting as it is elusive. But in those special moments, I try to hang on. I try to take a mental photo – ironically, my iPhone nowhere in sight.
I needed to put my guard down and surrender.
After a very overwhelming week of anxiety creeping back in and taking over, I knew what I needed to do. Surrender. Breathe. Be mindful. Stay present. These have been in constant rotation since I realized how crucial they were to my health, my survival, over a decade ago. But somehow, through marriage, mortgages, and kids, it has become easy for me to assimilate back into normal people life of constantly being on the move - producing, consuming. In fact, a part of me is rather good at it. The problem is, the rest of me isn’t.
Luckily (or not), my body is pretty persistent and when I ignore signs of stress, they get stronger and take on the intensity similar to an F5 tornado, leaving me no other option except to stop and pay attention or get swallowed whole.
So, that day at the lake a miracle happened and I let go. It doesn’t happen that often, but I was able to find a window of willingness to surrender to the sky above, the water below, and the wind right in my face. On that jet ski, my arms tightly around my husband, trusting him implicitly (and quietly praying his race car driving days were paused while I was attached to his back at his mercy in the middle of the lake). We went from the jet ski to the go kart, again my prayers for his need for speed to be waylaid until I was safely at the house. I surrendered to my need to be in control, as I was literally not in the driver’s seat.
(A picture of me and my husband in the go kart right before we took off. I look relaxed, right?)
And it was OK.
I took many deep breaths (closed mouth is a must, or you get an unexpected mouthful of bugs). I said my prayers. And just like that, I let go.
For so long, I have not let go. I am foolishly trying to control every detail of my life that I can so that I can have some false semblance of assurance that despite feeling so out of control, things are going to be OK.
I just want to know it’s going to be OK. I want a guarantee life won’t hurt. I want to know my parents will live forever, that my husband and my kids will always be safe and healthy. I want to be assured there will always be more good in the world than evil. I want these promises. And yet, I can’t find the guarantee. I am searching for consolation in too much shopping, in too much time online, in too many people’s heads, in too much busyness - all to distract from the responses I may not like or the guarantees that simply do not exist.
I need to surrender to what is not known and cannot be known.
Relinquishing control (no matter how false the control really is), and making a conscious contact with God, the Universe, a tree – something that exists outside our human selves – is crucial for me. These are the keys to what keep me grounded. And sometimes I get too caught up in life as I know it, carried away with somewhat superfluous things that ignore what my soul really needs. I want answers, and I have been forcefully trying to make them appear, and yet they haven’t. At least, they haven’t appeared in a form I recognize. It is in these periods of questioning that I remember to remain quiet, and surrender daily to the unknown. And once in a while a heart-pounding go kart ride with my speed-loving husband forces me to give up the driver's seat and surrender.