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Surrender Experiments Nancy Choi

Surrender Experiments

I’m getting ready to take a mini-sabbatical in mid-September.  I call it ‘mini’ because it’s only 5-weeks and I consider a proper sabbatical to be 6-12 months.  I’ll be back full of stories and new experiences from Bali and Northern Thailand in October and take a break from the newsletter (and most digital things) until then.    

Before I go, I wanted to share something I’ve been personally practicing and finding to be very joyful: Surrender Experiments.  This was inspired by a quote that I heard recently: “We are either coming from a place of Fear or Faith.”  These experiments are little daily ways to practice surrendering to the current flow of life and having faith that things will turn out well.  (An example of a book to learn more about surrendering to the present would be “The Power of Now”.)

If the hypothesis is that coming from a place of Faith will eradicate Fear, I became interested in how to introduce more micro-moments of faith when I’d normally become worried or reactive to a situation.  

A recent example of this was being severely delayed on my way to the London Gatwick airport because of train strikes and delays.  I could feel a part of me become anxious as the time to my flight got dangerously close and taking a taxi was going to take longer than staying on the train.  I asked myself, “What would it be like to surrender to what is?”  I took a few deep breaths and leaned into my faith that I would get home in the end.  I listened to some Tribe Called Quest tracks and leaned back.  When I got to the airport, my flight was delayed by 2 hours and I had plenty of time to board and bask in my seat.  

The flight could easily have left without me, but then I would have been able to grab the next flight out.  Or fly out the next day.  The win was in the quality of the time spent waiting for the outcome — I was able to find more inner peace and keep my nervous system regulated.  And that was so much more joyful than the impatient frustrated version of that story!

The beauty of experimentation is that it can feel like a game, rather than a chore.  It can also give you really valuable feedback about what brings you alive, what doesn’t, and what ultimately helps you improve your habits for sustained change.  I love doing experiments on my own and with clients.  It allows us to stay in a state of constant inquiry, learning, and iterating — the pressure goes away as we explore new ways of being.

If you’re interested in trying a Surrender Experiment as well, here are your instructions:

  • Create an intention for yourself: what would surrendering to life be in service of?  What kinds of benefits would you want to see?
  • Everyday, find one moment where you can respond to a situation or person in surrender.  When in that moment, ask yourself “What would it be like to surrender to what is?”   It’s a way of saying ‘yes’ to whatever is wanting to happen.  Choose moments that feel safe and small to start
  • In the evening, journal about what that was like: What did you notice in yourself?  What did you notice in others?   What were the results?  What does this tell you about your in-going hypotheses and how could you try different experiment tomorrow to continue to learn more?

Come September, my mini-sabbatical will be centered around Surrender and Play as a continuation of my experimentation.  Saying ‘yes’ more to life, stepping into un-calendared days, and exchanging stories with strangers.  I’ll tell you what I learn.  

“Life rarely unfolds exactly as we want it to. And if we stop and think about it, that makes perfect sense. The scope of life is universal, and the fact that we are not actually in control of life’s events should be self-evident. The universe has been around for 13.8 billion years, and the processes that determine the flow of life around us did not begin when we were born, nor will they end when we die. What manifests in front of us at any given moment is actually something truly extraordinary—it is the end result of all the forces that have been interacting together for billions of years.”

– Mickey A. Singer

Going with the flow,


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