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Surrender and change

Earlier this week I wrote about learning to let go. Yet I felt I hadn’t quite nailed it in terms of saying what it really meant for me on a deep level, or why I find surrendering and letting go so hard to do.

After some reflection since that post, I’ve realised that for me surrender is about looking deeply into my life and noticing change, however subtle or overt. It means staying present as much as possible, living consciously; slowing things down; remaining curious and filled with wonder.

Yet it’s so challenging to do that when work and other commitments push me ever ahead, beyond ‘now’ and into a future that is just on the horizon. Have to get home to make dinner. Have to get my son’s homework done. Need to call so and so. Even setting time aside for meditation can feel stressful because there is so much else to get done: money to earn, bills to pay, things to do, do, do.

So often when we get used to things the way they are, we assume they will continue to be that way. Then we somehow miss noticing that in fact things are now very different.

I’ve noticed that change is particularly difficult to notice in people I have been close to for a long period of time. It’s like I stop looking at them, which means that I’ve stopped being present with who they really are.

Recently I saw a friend who I’ve known for 15 years. He is now 78 years old. We were talking intently at one point, then I realised how much his face has changed since we first met. His eyes seem the same and his skin remains almost free of wrinkles, but the outline of his check bones is more pronounced, and somehow the way his face flows is completely different. He’s always had a slight limp, but I noticed that he moves more stiffly now. It’s not that I hadn’t noticed these things at all, it’s just that I didn’t spend any time thinking about them – really looking. I guess I want him to always be here and I don’t want to see that he is getting older. Or that I’m getting older, that my face too is changing its contours as I age.

So the second part of surrender is accepting those changes which we notice. To notice change and surrender to it is also to accept death in its many guises.

Accepting change, whatever the scale, can involve a profound sense of loss. This week I am working on noticing and accepting change, again and again. For me it’s activating the wounded heart, with its vast regrets and many heartbreaks. If any of you have insights you’d like to share about working with the wounded heart, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear about your experiences with surrendering to change.

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