Because I’m a physician, people often ask me, “What’s the most important factor in recovering from illness?” To their surprise, my answer is always “surrender.” They’re expecting recommendations that are more conventionally “proactive,” such as diet, the proper medications, or reducing stress — all of which are potentially beneficial.
Surrender is the engine that drives all choices about healing. Why? Because your life goes through cycles, some celebratory, some painful, some healthy, some not. The way you flow with these cycles, including illness, can make all the difference between serenity and suffering.
Surrender basically means letting go of your need to be in control. It’s about opening up your mind to possibilities you might not have considered, letting your intuition guide you, and being in the flow of life. When we stop pushing and trying to determine the outcome, healing energy becomes available to us.
4 Ways to Heal through Surrendering
1. Surrender fear
The mind has the power to think positively or negatively. The direction you choose can shape your healing. All thoughts aren’t created equally. Some, like fear, are more aggressive than others and take up more space in your psyche. If you indulge fear, a master seducer that preys on your doubts, there will be less room for hope, faith, and love.
Think of F.E.A.R. as an acronym: False Evidence Appearing Real. Unproductive, worry-based fears about illness take your mind into a false future and defeat your healing instinct, which is happening in the now. Summon all of your resolves not to succumb to fear.
Related: The Power of Positive Thinking
2. Surround yourself with healing people
People can affect our health in a positive or negative way. To heal, surrender to those who are loving.
If you don’t have loving parents, find “surrogate parents” who will play that role for you. When you’re ill, you’re at your most vulnerable. You deserve to be encircled by people who support you, not those who suck the life force out of you with their fear, anger, criticism, narcissism, or neediness. Surrendering to the love of friends and family has the power to make you feel good and soften the pain.
The more you absorb these vibes, the better you will be. If you’re not up to socializing or can’t field many phone calls and emails, join websites that will give you support and a community to talk to.
Related: The Benefits of Friendship
3. Prepare a nurturing space
Your physical environment affects your healing. Unclutter your home or recovery room. A serene, light-filled, uncluttered room provides the open space to get well. A dark, stuffy, noisy, chaotic environment is disturbing. It can slow your recovery because you’ll be spending energy fighting off unpleasant distractions and stagnant clutter.
Intrusive noise is also toxic to healing. Reams of research have shown how noise pollution can harm your health by increasing stress, insomnia, agitation, hypertension, ischemic heart disease, and even birth defects, as well as impairing immunity.
You can’t relax or surrender to the healing forces unless you create a space that feels nurturing.
Related: How to Declutter Your Home
4. Surrender to peacefulness
Find a serene place in your home where you can rest and relax. Settle into the stillness as you surrender to the peace and beauty. No rushing. No pressure. Take your time in the space. Breathe in the sweet smells, admire the quality of light, the joyous flowers, the lusciousness of a bowl of fruit. Enjoy soothing music that inspires your healing. Create a sacred altar if this resonates with you and feels comforting. Meditate. Absorb the goodness, healing, and rejuvenation all around you.
Judith Orloff MD is the author of The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your Life (April 1, 2014), upon which this article is based. An Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA and New York Times bestselling author, Dr. Orloff teaches workshops nationwide, has given a TED talk on this book, and has appeared on The Dr. Oz Show, Today, PBS, CNN, NPR, and many others.
Featured photo by abigol