Pushing the River – The Art of Surrender

Flickr - Rafting - AbeeeerSlade Roberson, Guest
Waking Times

Are you struggling to make something happen?

Are you torturing your consciousness for a sense of the right direction, begging the Universe for assistance with a difficult decision?

Are you interrogating your guides, trying with all your might to listen to your heart, but hearing no clear answers?

You know that trying too hard only makes it worse, so you beat yourself up about that too… Spinning your wheels in a Purgatory of Indecision — or maybe it’s a Special Place in Hell just for perfectionists, over-analyzers, and hand-wringers.


If you’ve ever been white-water rafting or kayaking you’ve heard about the dangers of re-circulation. This is what occurs when you’re dragged into a hydrodynamic phenomenon where water falling from a shelf of rock goes to the bottom of the river, and, instead of moving downstream, is pushed back up, under, and behind the fall.

Kind of like undertow at the beach — only it never stops. A whirlpool, turned sideways — just like the Wheel of Life — and you’re stuck beneath it.

It’s terrifying. Your fight-or-flight response kicks in and every cell in your body demands that you struggle upwards, toward the air and light — which is against tons of physical resistance.

  • You don’t stand a chance of kicking or pushing against this.

    Everything your body knows about how to swim is challenged. If you keep trying to swim, you’ll drown. This conflict of instinct and training and logical decision-making is taking place in a heartbeat of time, beneath dangerously cold water, against the force of being hit by a bus hundreds of times per second.

    If you fight — if you continue to struggle — you’ll die.

    If you react to the river’s force as your enemy, it becomes one.

    It’s no accident of vocabulary that the captains of your white-water rafting voyage are aptly called river guides. They will instruct you when to paddle forwards or backwards, where to shift your weight… and they will tell you what to do if you fall out of the boat and, God forbid, find yourself recirculated.

    The remedy for the situation is actually extremely simple and requires absolutely no exertion of strength whatsoever. The challenge is a mental decision — one that must transcend physical action and the survival instinct of the body:

    Do Nothing

    Do not struggle; do not try to swim; do not push with your legs; do not grasp with your hands; do not pull with your arms. Do not even think about breathing. Curl into a fetal position and release control.

    The river will spit out a recirculated object — especially one wearing a life jacket.

    No effort is required on your part, yet doing nothing is the hardest course of action to take.

    The Universe — the Flow — is a river and your soul is a flotation device. The mortal vessel — the body — is a machine that will obey the mind and the will.

    Is your thinking mind dragging your spirit under and keeping you there?

    The Art of Surrender

    What happens if you stop pushing the river — get out of your own way, and let yourself be carried in the direction of the answer you seek?

    The most challenging action you may ever be asked to perform could be surrender.

    For most of us, surrender is simultaneously the easiest and the hardest thing to do. The art of surrender is most critical at times when all other options — even the ones you think are the only way to survive — amount to suicide. Or something worse than doing nothing.

    Maybe the turmoil, the churning waters of the Flow in which you find yourself right now, are not life-or-death — you can still breathe, can’t you? If you can breathe, you’ve got everything you need to make it through this moment.

    Surrender does not mean you will never do anything again. Surrender doesn’t mean that you “turn it over to God” and that you have no further role to play, or that you won’t be required to wait for your cue and then act with focus, intent, and rested power.

    You’ve seen the silly scenes in movies or cartoons, where someone who can’t swim falls in the water and thrashes about in a screaming panic… before realizing the water isn’t deep enough to drown in, and all he had to do was stand up.

    You can drown in a bathtub. You could — technically — drown by sticking your head in a bucket, a sink, or a toilet.

    Are you acting out of desperation right now? Slapping the water and stirring up drama and screaming and spluttering “Show me! Where is it?! Where’s the answer?! Oh God, I can’t see it, I can’t find it — I’m blind!”


    You don’t have to change your life right this minute. (You can’t.) You don’t have to decide today. You don’t have to move a mountain right now. The river can move mountains; over time, it can level them and turn them to rubble. But even if it starts immediately, you won’t miss a thing by letting your pillow take your troubles, just for a few more hours…

    Stop pushing the river and damning your flow. Wait, gather information — play — and let the Universe show you its hand.

    Allow yourself to be carried where you most need to go.

    The Universe is change.

    You will be moved; it’s inevitable.

    You can float and rest, or you can thrash and scream — it changes nothing except the level of suffering that you choose in the interim.

    About the Author

    Slade Roberson is an intuitive counselor and author. You can read hundreds of original articles and memoirs about spirituality, intuitive development, and the paranormal at Slade’s popular blog Shift Your Spirits. This article originally appeared on his site – please be sure to visit him there.

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