Control & Surrender / by Ariel Carson

Photo by  Alex Jones  on  Unsplash

Photo by Alex Jones on Unsplash

Instead of tying up our cognitive resources consciously deciding how to tie our shoes, eat our meals, and get to work every day etc., we create habits to ensure these activities are reliably completed in order to free up space for other, potentially more fertile, thought processes. Habits satiate our desire for predictability. That which remains static is much easier to control. In a life dominated by unconscious habit, we can maintain our status quo, for better or worse, in attempts to minimize having to manage our relationships to change and unpredictability.

In the other direction, we may long to lose control as a means of disrupting this stasis, perhaps helping us to remember that we’re alive. We subscribe to culturally acceptable rituals to surrender our habitual sense of control, like dancing, or sometimes less constructively, excessive use of drugs or alcohol. Through loss of control we may feel more inclined not to take responsibility for our direction, actions, or reactions. Imagine being carried downstream a river with eyes closed. Sometimes the stream is clear, but just as often without our awareness and participation, we may bump into branches and boulders along the way.  

Photo by  Ross Findon  on  Unsplash

Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash

So how can we strike a balance between excessive control and reckless or unproductive surrender? How can we reconcile the parts of us built to conserve energy by forming habits that generally reinforce the status quo, with the creative parts of us that want to embrace change? 

Our strategies for control and surrender are deeply imbedded in our postural support dynamics, coordination of movement, and breathing processes. Engaging in a process of self-observation, inquiry, and exploration on an embodied level can lead us to wholeness and healing once we have a reliable framework for our participation.


Photo by  Alfred Leung  on  Unsplash

Photo by Alfred Leung on Unsplash

Introducing elements of surrender into our processes of control, and vice versa promotes sustainability in action. Surrender is the release of excess effort through our minds and muscles. Control is being able to choose how to move forward with the resulting unearthed freedom. Surrender is the suspension of meaning and the letting go of all the ways we tell ourselves “should”. Control is the new meaning and action that emerge out of a more attuned relationship to our selves. Surrender is receiving the information we get through our senses in an open and non-judgmental way, maintaining compassion for our process. Control is choosing what we’re paying attention to and how. Surrender is not micromanaging how our intentions are carried out, but rather planting the seeds of intention and giving them space to see how they grow. Control is our process of setting new conscious intentions.


As we become more psychophysically educated, experienced, and trusting of our subtly ever shifting balance, we gain greater awareness of how we habitually try to exert control over our neuromuscular systems in an effort to promote stasis, or how we may have given ourselves over to a sense of helplessness. As we surrender to the inevitable ebb and flow of life, may our sense of control emerge not as a grasping for stasis, but as an ability to choose and influence how we ride the waves.