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Agency and Surrender

Personalized support for learning how to integrate mindfulness into your life. Delivered fresh everyday by our world renowned experts. Choose meditation duration:

Hi, welcome back to

your Daily Mindfulness.

In today's session, I want to

talk about the relationship

between agency and surrender.

Now, agency is essentially our

capacity to feel like we can impact

our life on a moment to moment basis.

It can even be looked at as a form

of feeling like we have control

and influence over what is arising.

This form of having influence and control

over our experience can sometimes be

poo-pooed in the mindfulness space

because there's so much emphasis on

letting go of control and holding a

spacious relationship to what is arising

and seeing that thoughts are arising,

emotions are arising, sensations are

arising, without much input from us.

And being able to get to a

place of just holding all of

it without trying to change it.

And that's powerful.

However, having some sense of agency

over our experience, even an ability

to direct our attention to a different

aspect of our experience is fundamental

to what it means to be human.

Our brains are programmed and wired

to want to feel a sense of agency.

It's one of the biggest

buffers against depression.

When we don't feel like we have

choice, when we don't feel like we have

influence over our experience, we fall

into a learned helplessness response.

And in fact, the new research

on learned helplessness shows

that it's not actually learned.

Our default response to a difficult

situation is to be helpless, is to stop

trying, and to basically like curl up

in a ball and go into a freeze response.

You could think of an animal in

a life-threatening situation.

What we have that is unique

though, is a wiring that Dr.

Marty Seligman calls the hope circuit

that overrides that feeling of

helplessness because it's telling us

no, we can influence our situation, we

can get out of it, we can change it.

So that part of the brain is incredibly

important and it is a big buffer

against depression and anxiety.

So I want to make sure

we're, we're holding that.

At the same time, though, all we

can influence is what is arising in

this moment, all we can influence is

how we're showing up in each moment.

What happens after that, in

many ways, for lack of a better

phrase, is God's business.

It's the universe's business.

We don't really have control over it.

And so one way to look at this, the

relationship between agency and surrender

is to see it as being committed to the

process, but detached from the outcome.

Committed to the process,

but detach from the outcome.

In this way, we're recognizing that

we have influence over how we're

going to relate to this moment.

That's agency.

However, we don't have influence

over what's going to happen next.

That's surrender.

And by holding those two, we can

show up in a way that makes us feel

empowered, but allow life to unfold

in a way that allows us to feel ease.

So see if you could take this into

your day, commitment to the process,

but detachment from the outcome.

Thank you for your practice.

Let's settle in for today's meditation.

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