Who would have thought that surrender is an effective method for victory?  I grew up in a military household.  The idea of surrender was equivalent to quitting or giving up.  Certainly it was not a concept to embrace. 

One of my childhood heroes was General Douglas MacArthur.   He was bigger than life and his quotes were the same.  One quote of his that impacted me deeply was, “Americans never quit.”  Therefore as an American, I was not a quitter.  I would never quit.  Surrender was quitting, so therefore, it was not an option.  Later in life, I met Yogi Bhajan who became my Teacher.  One of his favorite quotes was (you guessed it) another Douglas MacArthur quote….”There is no substitute for Victory.” Along with our Maha Mantra “Keep Up”, there seemed little space for anything other than, “Keep Up”…keep going.  Stopping…not an option.  Giving up….not an option….  Now I am learning, that surrender is a way to fulfillment…a way to victory in life.   Say what?!

Recently, I discovered a new Douglas MacArthur quote,  “We are not retreating – we are advancing in another direction.”  I’m thinking, Doug, you clever, paradoxical fox. 

So, if retreating is not retreating, then perhaps, surrender is not quitting or what we may think it is.  It is all a question of perspective and how we view things. There is no rule on how we arrive.  And like Doug, we can learn to be our own paradoxical fox and find new creative pathways in life to our fulfillment. 

Embrace the Paradoxes

In life, paradox is really unavoidable.  Often we make the mistake of wanting to avoid or fix the paradoxes in our life.  But, there is a power if we allow the paradox and accept it.  The poles, the seeming opposites can exist at the same time in the same space.  If we surrender to them, in their seemingly contrasting ways it gives us strength and intuitive intelligence.  So, we can retreat to advance, we can surrender to win.  Interesting concepts.

For me, I accept that I am a healthy cancer patient.  That’s a paradox.  I have accepted my health and my cancer together.  In it, I have found the wisdom or truth in how to go beyond the boundary of cancer….accept it.  Let the tension go.  It is like in martial arts, when you parry a blow instead of blocking it…step to the side of the blow rather than block it and then use your opponent’s strength to counter them.   Especially if they are bigger than you.   And believe me when you first encounter it, cancer looks pretty damn big.

So, I am exploring this surrender to the cancer idea.  Just accept it.  It’s ok.  I get a lot of input of “don’t relate to being sick, don’t identify with being sick”.  But I was sick, and for me,  not accepting it was simply a state of denial.  Every time I would deny the cancer, my inner self would counter, yeah, but you do have it.  For me it was not avoidable.  I discovered I had to surrender to the cancer, accept the cancer, then, I could deal with the cancer.  It was o.k.  I did not have to live in denial of it.  I did not have to be in fear of it even though it scared the hell out of me.  I was beginning to surrender to it, but I was not quitting.  I was finding new ways.

One of the best known clichés is what is called “the definition of insanity. “ We credit Einstein with it.  “The definition of insanity, is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  We may not be crazy, but many of us have a lot of practice trying this one.  Especially when we get stuck in a pushy, combative state, get a little obsessive / compulsive, and get stuck in mission mode.  By God, I am going to win this battle.  If I just try harder etc, etc.  Well, sometimes you gotta surrender, you gotta give up and look at things from a new perspective.  There may be a way through every block but beating your head against a brick wall may not be the most effective method of finding a way through it.

So often we fight against ourselves trying to swim against the flow of life.  We hassle, we fight and create a lot of conflict within and outside of ourselves.   We attach the notion of surrender to losing or quitting.  But surrender allows us to let go of the ego, get out of the way and let infinity work for us.  Suddenly there are many more options that in our combative state are hard to see or even consider.  Surrender is not about quitting.  It is about recognizing there is a force bigger than us…if we allow this force and trust it, we can relax and know all is well…even in sickness.

In my fight for my health, I had to ask myself did I want to create this conflict within myself?  Did I really need to fight?   It was painful to stand in opposition to what was, and to live in denial of my reality.  Believe me, a part of me preferred to be in denial and not accept the cancer but I somehow knew I had to find how to accept my reality and release the inner conflict.  To heal, it made sense to me to be at peace with myself and not to be fighting myself.  Wow!  The disturbing part of this thought was that cancer was a part of me.  I had to accept it, then I could heal it.  How was I going to surrender to this paradox and find my healthy cancer patient self.

Remember Hilda?  Well, she’s still around.  She keeps reminding me to embrace my new self.  Stop fighting and trying to be what was.  Let it go.  Now is now.  Then she smiles and sings a little Kenny Rogers, The Gambler, “You gotta know when to hold ‘em, you gotta know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away….”   And so I learn, sometimes you just gotta let go….surrender.

Meditate and Relax

I am very fortunate because over so many years of yogic practice and meditation I have discovered many techniques that are very effective.  Sometimes it’s a challenge to actually do them but when I do, I am happy to report, they work.  On an intellectual, conceptual level, they don’t work.  You actually have to do them, that is the hard part.  So, here is a meditation that I found to be very effective in helping me surrender and find acceptance.  It is called releasing inner conflict.

Let Go of Inner Conflict

The Teachings of Yogi Bhajan ©2008

Sit in an Easy Pose.

Eyes: Close the eyes 9/10ths of the way.

Mudra (Hand Position) : Place the hands over the chest, with the palms on the torso at the level of the breasts. The fingers point toward each other across the chest.

Breath: The key to this meditation is attention to the breath. Inhale deeply and completely for 5 seconds.  Exhale completely for 5 seconds. Hold the breath out for

15 seconds, by suspending the chest motion as you pull in the Navel Point and abdomen.

Time: Start with 3 minutes and slowly build your time to 11 minutes.

To End: Inhale deeply and stretch the arms up over the head. Relax the breath and shake the arms and hands for 15-30 seconds. Relax.


We are often confused and held in deadlock when inner conflict blocks our ability to think and act clearly. In these moments, the mind’s prana, or energy, is scattered and distributed in a disturbed manner. In this meditation, the breath pattern holds the breath out three times as long as it is held in.  The body will sense a lack of prana in vital areas of functioning and asks how it can quickly and optimally reorganize itself to respond. Your built-in computer can calculate your enegetic resources and the level of your challenge.   Then it will design a strategy to prepare and use the mind and body effectively.  This meditation can help resolve many conflicts and is an automatic reflex for survival. Inner conflict is the result of excess or disturbed prana.

Do your best with the breathing in this meditation for best results. 

Wherever You Go, There You Are

It may not feel good to be where we don’t want to be.  But often that can be the case.  It creates conflict and tension within us.  For example, I don’t want to be stuck in traffic…I don’t want to be here…in this case, I don’t want to have cancer…but I do have it.  Or perhaps I should say, I did.  I use the past tense because I believe it is gone even though I have not yet received that final medical diagnosis but I believe that diagnosis is coming and coming soon.  I am a cancer survivor or even better, I am a cancer thriver.  I have thrived in the face of it and I have come out the other side.

And, speaking of surrender….A few weeks ago, I said I would have results from various biopsies, CAT Scans and other tests to update my health.  Well, not quite yet.  Surgically, I am pure as the driven snow.  There is no visible trace of cancer in my body…no bladder though, missing 3 lymph nodes and a few other parts but all is clean within.  I expected to have my CAT Scan and results but alas an opportunity to surrender to Italian Health Care and finally getting my tests from 2 weeks ago next week.  So, slowly, slowly as we say.  With the CAT Scan we’ll know where we stand on a cellular level and what therapies may or may not be needed.  We’ll let you know as we know.

No Blame

Surrender allows us to accept the reality of our situation.   And acceptance allows us to surrender.   The two support one another.  In acceptance, we can take responsibility for our situation whatever it may be.  There is no blame to be placed.  There is no victim.  If we can accept, and let go of our defensiveness, let go of our need to be right, let go of the resistance and allow what is to be what is, we can accomplish great things.  When we are blinded by reactiveness, it is difficult to see and think clearly.

It is an interesting state to be in.  We can actually accomplish more by doing less.  Boy, is this a great lesson for me.  I am a doer by nature and often believe more gets done if I do more.  Now I am saying, we can accomplish more by doing less.  That’s a flip.  Remember that mantra Sat Kartar from a few weeks ago?  It means that the Infinite is the Doer.  So, let go, let God.  We don’t have to do everything.  We may have to do some things, but not every thing.  Inhale, exhale and relax.  We can do a whole lot more healing in a relaxed state than a combative state.   So, let the infinite do some of the heavy lifting.

I heard a line the other day that I didn’t like very much,  “why is it that when Americans get sick they think they are to blame for it?”  Wow, that made me have to think.  Is that really true?  It is a heavy indictment.  It is counter productive.  If only I hadn’t had that last Coke…if only I had a better mental attitude…if only I had been a vegan, dairy free, gluten-free, raw foodist…if only…  It can be exhausting.  Just get over it.  Don’t waste your time with blame.

Let Go of Judgment

Let go of the judgment, let go of that inner conflict and just accept.  O.k, I have this thing that I would prefer not to have but I do and now what am I going to do about it?  Believe me, the best place to start is not beating yourself up about it.  Just accept it, surrender to it and then deal with it in the most positive way you can.   That is empowering.  Dissecting it and finding where to place the blame is just a form of victimization.  It is not very healing.

Allow yourself to accept what is.  If you want to change it, then you can.  If you cannot accept, if you deny it, you cannot change it because your base has become about denial.  So even the ugly things, if we want to change them, the first step is acceptance.  Surrender to the reality of its existence and surrender to the pulse of infinite creativity.

Back to Keep Up.  Well, keep up can be a good reality.  Keep up a positive attitude even in those moments when it seems the Universe is saying No.  Keep up experimenting.  If one way does not work, be open to the possibility of new ways that can.  Keep up and Keep open to learning.  We are never done with that part.  Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks.  I am proof of that.

It’s like Thomas Edison the inventor of the incandescent light bulb.  He said, “I have not failed, I have just found 10,000 ways the (the light bulb) won’t work.”  The genius part was he surrendered to the challenge.  He did not become frustrated or entrenched in the same action.  He found new ways and eventually, after 10,000 tries, he found a new way that finally worked.  So, Keep Up, keep your perspective, surrender, accept and let the Infinite help you.  It will come to you.

You will find a way.


Content retrieved from: https://yogaborgo.com/blog/surrender-acceptance-victory.