In his previous book, The Untethered Soul, NY Times Bestselling author Michael Singer wrote about giving into your soul’s path. When I heard he had a new release that carried on with this theme, I knew I needed to check it out.
While the premise of both books is somewhat similar – quieting the voices in the head – the Surrender Experiment focuses more on living in life’s perfection, and uses Singer’s personal story to prove his point. It’s a memoir.
The story goes like this:
To pursue his spiritual yearning, Singer gives up everything to live in the woods. Though it may look like an intense yoga and meditation practice, it’s really an experiment in letting go. The ultimate YES project. To let go of all personal preferences / ego driven behaviors, and say yes to whatever comes his way. You know that phrase get out of your own way? It’s this.
The book begins with Singer’s recollection of spiritual endeavors which initially comes to him through books (Three Pillars Of Zen was his first foray into meditation). This leads to personal encounters with some Indian greats, and later to becoming a spiritual retreat host.
All the while his little property in the woods kept expanding (the money would show up at exactly the right time in exactly the right amount) to eventually grow into a full fledged spiritual community, The Temple of the Universe, still in existence today.
But this is not just a guru story. Singer was a successful business man (though always with a pony tail and in sandals).
Midway through the book there were definite moments when I thought ho-hum, of course it’s all going to work out for Mr. Singer, and his Surrender Experiment. Everything just falls into his lap without any effort aside from a sturdy meditation practice. For those of us who don’t have such a solid practice, and don’t live alone in the woods, this is completely unrealistic.
Then the story takes a turn. Singer had major trouble with the government which landed him in a huge trial that received national attention. I had actually heard about the details years ago on an interview with Oprah (oh btw, what is going on with her network? Super Soul Sunday is on constant repeat.) Now, he tells his side.
So surrendering didn’t always yield a life that comes up in rose covered glasses. In fact, it’s usually the opposite.
He wrote: I had seen time and again how what at first appeared to be a problem turned out to be a guiding force of change leading us forward.
It’s true that I was initially intrigued by the spiritual component of the book, but the latter part of the story got quite juicy with Singer’s recollection of the whole government showdown. It was a page turner that kept me up pretty late one evening to finish.
And yes, I did try my own little Surrender Experiment.
And no, it did not go well.
My biggest takeaway from the book?
I’m completely driven by my personal preferences, and have a lot of work to do before being capable of giving fully into life’s perfection.
His words here help: Do whatever is put in front of you with all your heart and soul without regard for personal results. Do the work as though it were given to you by the universe itself – because it was.