When I was about 15 years old my mother read a Deepak Chopra book and told me that love was all about surrender, or something like that. Red flags went up, alarm bells went off. I dismissed this theory entirely and quickly, with only a bit of thought that went something like this: If you surrender to someone, how can you tell whether they are surrendering to you? And if they don’t, won’t you be in a dangerous place where they can take advantage of you while you’re wide open? No thanks, no surrender.

Surrender felt threatening. I was scared, and still am sometimes, of the lack of control that comes when we truly release our resistance to the flow of life. But this lack of control is present whether we accept it or not. Surrender is in opposition to control. It is not, however, at odds with taking action and having agency in our lives. We can, and should, take actions and make decisions that allow us to feel prepared and safe to surrender. Then, we must surrender.

Practice Surrender with Ishvara Pranidhana

Ishvara pranidhana is the last component of kriya yoga (the others being svadhyaya, or self-study, and tapas, or effort). It can be translated as surrender to the divine, but also understood as surrender to the highest quality you contain and wish to embody. For many of us, this is love.