One of the most profound experiences for me in SI work has been learning how to surrender. I use the word not in the sense of giving over to a conquering horde of barbarians – though that could be a lot of fun! – but as a giving over to something greater.
To get at it a little differently, let’s take a peek at the word in another language. German is my language of choice, but before we go there we should note that the word we use in English is the same as in French – sur+rendre. Quite literally it means to give over, to give over to a larger or greater power. Incidentally, the same meaning attaches to the concept in German, übergeben – über meaning over, upwards, higher, above, etc. and geben meaning to give.
One of the hardest lessons I have learned in bodywork is precisely this one of giving over, of surrender. Yet, who would think that learning how to relax, giving over, would be so challenging in bodywork? Isn’t it easy to lie back and have a good rub? Though it sounds simple enough, it is not. We don’t let go, or we react to what we think the other person wants us to do, or we try to take control. On the contrary, giving over, surrendering, means that we need to stop anticipating. In other words, to stop thinking! And herein lies the rub, so to speak. Anticipation is all about our minds at work, and at work they always are.
Why should anticipating be such a problem, you may be asking yourself? If I am receiving a massage or being the passive person in an SI exchange and my mind is busy anticipating the next move or the will of the other, then I am not present in the moment. If I am anticipating, I am not letting go, not allowing myself to experience the beauty and wonderment of another person taking me on a journey of touch. This is as much of a problem for the active partner as well. Not only does he have to work against my resistances but my activity makes it more difficult for him to fully enter into the power of touch. In order for the SI exchange to reach its full potential, it is necessary for both the active and passive practitioners to immerse themselves as completely as possible and so to go beyond the limitations of their egos.
For anyone who practices martial arts or yoga, this is not an unfamiliar concept – I think it is the same. In all of these practices, we delve into a primordial state of being, of connectedness where, I dare say, we reach a level in which it is possible to get a glimpse of the oneness of it all. At these points, we brush up against the unknowable and thus are at the edge of our limitations. Personally, I like to think that through the kind of deeply physical connectedness that SI gives us we actually have the chance to experience the oneness of creation and hence the mystery of existence. If we are able to practice surrendering and allowing the magic of touch to be our guide, our bodies will open up a dimension that I would call sacred.