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My all-time favorite guided meditation is by storyteller and meditation teacher Sarah Blondin; I’ve listened to her 8-minute “Learning to Surrender” meditation so many times I almost have it memorized. The message I take from her wise words:  there are times when we just need to let go. To slow down, rather than to speed up; to stop trying to hold everything. To let things fall, to rest. To feel secure that, regardless of our spiritual beliefs, there are forces at work beyond our will. Energy all around us holds us and takes us ever towards more of what we want, and away from what we don’t, when we just let it happen. To access this energy, we simply need to loosen our death grip, let go, and let the flow of life’s river take us along. To stop fighting, to stop straining, and simply surrender.

This message is so powerful. Yet, you may find you resist it, as it feels counterintuitive, especially as you endeavor to get ahead in your career, hold it together, and take care of the teams you lead and the constituents you serve. However, especially when you feel exhausted and beyond able to do anything other than survive your day, this call to surrender can be a balm for the soul. It can feel like a window opening when a door closes.

We spend so much of our time thinking about our jobs and being in our heads; surrendering comes from truly inhabiting our bodies. How do you do this? Again, it’s not a state of doing; it’s a state of being. It’s changing the quality and focus of your attention. Surrendering involves shifting your attention to move down your body, from your head to your heart, and eventually to your gut. It involves checking with your intuition before taking any action and counting on your inner knowing to inform your choices. By the way, this is not a one-time thing; it is a practice that you may need to repeat 100 or 1000 times per day, redirecting your attention from your thinking mind to your feeling body to ground – and re-ground – yourself.

How might this play out in real life? Surrendering looks like recognizing your energetic limits and honoring them. It may mean not logging back into email or work at night after the kids go to bed or you’ve finished dinner. It may look like going to sleep earlier and getting up earlier to focus on tasks that take you one-third less time in the morning than they do in the evening to complete. It may look like eliminating meetings from your schedule, sending a delegate for those sessions that can’t be canceled, or reducing the length or frequency of other checkpoints. It may look like changing the project deadline or reducing the scope to be more reasonable. It may look like resigning from a Board or volunteer role that you have held because you felt you should, but that drains you.

Surrendering is ultimately about belief. A belief that it is both safe, and the way through your present challenges, to let go. That if you don’t check your email or respond to that ping from your boss right away, the sky will not fall. That if you prioritize taking care of yourself, you will neither lose out nor let other people down. That if you slow down, take a breath, and take care of yourself, you will be safe. That if you find more efficient ways to do things and make them take less from you, it doesn’t mean you are slacking. That if you empower others to do tasks that historically only you have done and/or that you know you do better or faster than them, doing so will not negate your value. That if you take a moment to breathe, focus on being in your body, and stop being hooked by the crisis of the moment, you will ultimately be more effective than if you were to stay mired in the swirl of what is going on around you.

This is an excerpt from Merideth’s upcoming book: Your Finest Work: Career Fulfillment in A Complicated World

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