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The Surrender Experiment: My Journey into Life's Perfection Paperback – June 2, 2015
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"A lone voice in the modern wilderness calling for surrender instead of striving, Singer shows how surrendering to life does not mean giving up our dreams." —Shawn Achor, happiness researcher and NYTimes bestselling author of The Happiness Advantage
“Only the rarest of books has the power to clearly explain the difference between a human being and a human doing, and why that distinction is so important. The Surrender Experiment is such a book. Inspiring, authentic, and intensely compelling.” –Dean Radin, author of The Conscious Universe
“Michael Singer writes a beautiful, touching memoir on the amazing power of surrender in his life. With courage, spunk, and thoughtfulness, he has reached beyond the status quo to dare to trust life and surrender to its ultimate perfection.” —Judith Orloff MD, author, The Ecstasy of Surrender
“With his hallmark precision and clarity Michael Singer reveals in his latest masterpiece, The Surrender Experiment, how everyday life, doing business in the world and spiritual practice can be synchronized to carry us into the heart of life's unimaginable perfection. This is exactly the kind of practical mastery needed for a world in chaos.” —Jack Canfield, Coauthor of The Success Principles and the Chicken Soup for the Soul® series
About the Author
MICHAEL A. SINGER still lives in the woods where his great experiment began and where it continues. He is the author of the New York Times #1 bestseller The Untethered Soul. Visit him at www.untetheredsoul.com.
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Michael's book is a totally different angle - life just happens, don't try to figure out why and how it's happening, you're not doing any of it, just follow life, and it'll be just fine. So with great intrigue I was looking forward to reading it. Even though I knew his perspective on life was different than mine, I do believe in surrender - meaning it's fine to envision something but then completely let go and allow the Universe to do its thing. So even if I used Michael's viewpoint in that way, I was open to hearing what he had to share on the topic of surrendering.
By the way, some chapters ended with such an incredible promise of what will unfold next that you just had to keep reading. I told my son, "OK, leave me alone. I'll be in the sunroom for 5 hours - not getting up until this book is done!" I was up until after 1am, but it was done. I got both the audio book (read by the author) and the paperback.
UNTETHERED SOUL VS SURRENDER EXPERIMENT
Untethered Soul freed me from the chatter of my mind. Although I had been familiar with the concepts of not allowing your thoughts to control you, Michael Singer explained it so radically clear, that my own transformation came via the Untethered Soul. Or so I thought. I might need to go back and re-read Untethered Soul because The Surrender Experiment was mind-blowing.
To me, Untethered Soul was the message of "You are NOT your thoughts AND.... you don't have to just blindly follow your thoughts." Surrender Experiment, however, took that concept quite a bit further. Surrender Experiment was more about "What if you went ahead and did the very thing your thoughts made you fearful or resistant about doing?" and instead saw those opportunities as Life delivering to you your next task/action/decision. I had MANY jaw-dropping moments witnessing JUST how far Michael took that concept. Freakin' mind-blowing! Surrender Experiment was somewhat of a personal demonstration of what was taught in Untethered Soul and then some - totally riveting.
The first couple "life delivered" stories he shared, I was kinda like "Eh, that's nice but really not that extraordinary." (but not to worry that changed as I continued reading!)
My other initial reaction was toward the beginning of the book when I read one of the first stories of how he did NOT give into the chattering resistance of his mind. My reaction was "What?!!! That's nuts! Crap, there's no way I'd give in to a situation like that!" In rebellion, I shut the book and walked away feeling uncertain that I'd wanna keep reading... 30min later I feel drawn in.
I reminded myself that I can read any book and decide to use what resonates and discard what does not. Well hey, at least that perspective got me reading it again. SO freakin' glad I did!! (although I'll admit my reaction of "No way! He did NOT just allow that to happen!" re-occurred as I continued reading the book - see "is resistance holding me back" below)
WHAT I REALLY ENJOYED
Surrender when you feel resistance. (Chp 30):
This made VERY aware of just how many thoughts of RESISTANCE crossed my mind. Untethered Soul made me aware of the constant chatter, but Surrender Experiment made me acutely aware of thoughts of RESISTANCE which was truly transformative. Through the stories of his own thoughts of resistance I became aware of my own... painfully aware of my own (in a good way).
Initially he refused to be paid by someone who was insisting to pay him. Sounds like he had that "too spiritual to receive payment" concept going on - a lot of "spiritual" people experience that so it was good to watch that play out in Michael's life. He admitted that he undercharged for his services quite a bit. That refusal to be paid was a form of mental resistance that he overcame later - clearly he shed resistance to accepting money given the millions he experienced in his companies.
Mental concept separating worldly and spiritual dissolves:
It was cool to witness the dissolving of his concepts "separating worldly and spiritual" as he puts it. For anyone who thinks spirituality is meditating, finding as much isolation as you can, and doing a whole bunch of spiritual practices, get ready to have your perspective shifted a bit. Michael found a way to merge deep spirituality while making millions. In fact, his spirituality deepened as a result of his many "worldly" encounters. He shows you how his spirituality deepened DURING his worldly encounters. What's more is that he often credits his everyday experiences in life and business with deepening his spirituality MORE than meditation and isolation. Truly dumbfounded by how it effortlessly came together.
Also, most people who think about being in a spiritual community, are often doing so to escape dealing the "worldly drama" or "non-spirituality" of regular life and to be surrounded only by like-minded people. That's the way Michael Singer started out as well - alone out in the woods. But somehow he merged living in his spiritual community with the experiences of running businesses etc. FROM that very reclusive spiritual community. And he did so with uniquely remarkable life-changing results.... merely by surrendering to events of his life.
Is resistance holding ME back:
Many times, Michael surrendered to a life situation that seemed utterly ridiculous to surrender to and the voice in my head said "You have GOT to be kidding me!!! Why would you just give in to that?!" Someone builds a house on YOUR land without asking you.... an irate customer demands you pull your workmen off one job and come do hers immediately. Just say OK to both??!! Huh??!! Are you kidding me right now??!!
Then.... the rest of the story unfolds and life not only fully supports him but over delivers leaving me shaking my head with a smile realizing the gem this book really is. I know it sounds ridiculous but ya gotta read the book to really get this folks... ya just gotta read the book. I can't even explain it here. Truly....
By chapter 34 my resistance to this level of surrender was overtaken by fascination with what may actually be possible that I have not yet tapped into. (yes it took me THIRTY-FOUR chapters to start feeling a great deal of acceptance to what he was saying). :) Suddenly I'm realizing that my own mental/internal resistance to change (and to what life put in front of me) probably had me turn down more opportunities in my life than I could ever count because the voice in my head resisted it in some way. My personal preferences won most of the time disallowing the natural flow of life. Wow, I see this SO clearly now! Unreal.
Life hands you the next task:
Loved this quote "I'm sitting on a tiny planet spinning in out of space and this is the next task that life handed to me. I'm doing this as a gift to the Universe." Shifted my perspective quite radically especially considering certain events occurring my life right now, and the many events I disallowed in the past.
Follow your Bliss:
Although the book doesn't specifically say "follow your bliss" Michael was a living example of precisely that in many instances. He just allowed himself to fall in love with whatever he felt passionate about and lo and behold life threw him all kinds of opportunities that lined up with precisely that. It's an awesome reminder that the Universe will support you in your passion. Often times, we don't believe that we can make money with our passion so we go do something else. Pay very close attention to how that multi-million software company got started - THAT was an incredible display of "follow your bliss" supported by the Universe a million fold.
Awesome Intuitive flow
I loved reading about the beautiful resonant inner flow of creativity Michael experienced where things just flowed out of him - clearly from an amazingly inspired place that delivered projects so effortlessly that it was pretty much like meditating. Really opened me up to experiencing more of this flow and reading how he got into the flow was cool as well.
Is this about the "Art of Allowing?"
OK I know the author probably is NOT into the Law of Attraction. BUT.... at some point I became aware that Michael Singer was remaining in a "state of allowing" that a lot of "Law of Attraction" people talk, preach about, and write books about, and do seminars about but don't really know how to experience. In a way, THIS book is the "art of allowing" LIVED (not just preached).... but that's just my perspective.
Learning to quiet or ignore the voice in his head also provided a tremendous a level of peace in tumultuous situations. Loved how he demonstrated just how easy it is to do that. I followed his guidance and immediately was able to practice the feeling of calm and serenity in any given moment. Very cool. That very peace, is ALSO allowing the law of attraction to work in his favor (I think.) Many people try to "do things" to attract desired experiences never once realizing that attracting is a BEING experience (not a doing one). Michael Singer fully surrenders, experiences tremendous peace and joy in life, and (of course) naturally attracts amazing life experiences (that he did NOT ever envision, set an intention for, asked the Universe for or make a vision board for I might add). Mmm hmm.... there's more than ONE way to live this thing called life folks.
UNANSWERED QUESTIONS & PONDERINGS
What about a combo of desire plus surrender:
Michael's teachings are all about "Surrender your preferences and just follow the stream of naturally occurring life events." And to his credit, he presents a mountain of evidence as to how well this has worked for him. That said, other authors (like Trevor Blake multi-million dollar author of Three Simple Steps and also the book Parallel Realities of Self) embraces the combo of "desire/preferences + surrender."
Personally, I see nothing inherently wrong with having desires and preferences for different life experiences - just don't think your puny little human mind has a better plan than the Universe - dream, envision, then fully surrender to the magic of the Universe. I'd say Michael's book both expanded my view and instantly influenced my experience of the surrender/allowing part.
Always do what life puts in front of you?
At a certain point in the book, he shared that he chose to NOT accept different biz opportunities so as to not sacrifice his meditation practice. But he also says "do what life puts in front of you." I felt a bit conflicted in reading that as life was putting lots of biz opportunities in front of him but he went with his preference for his twice-daily meditation practice, but hey, no big deal... I still love this book. :)
There was also the time when a colleague was impressing upon Michael to build a bigger house for himself on the land he owned. In previous stories where others were impressing upon him to do something, he took it as a "sign from life" and surrendered. But when his colleague was impressing upon him to build a nicer house for himself, he said no, he'll just wait for the timing of life (which he did with remarkable results) but still... I wondered.... that whole surrender and preferences thing isn't so black and white is it?
Do what life puts in front of you even if you really don't enjoy it?
Here's the thing... what's working in Michael's favor is that he fully BELIEVES that the Universe will support him no matter what. That unwavering belief is a big part the magic in all of this (see my overall comment below). So at times, he says "yes" to opportunities he really does NOT want to do. That left me a bit concerned for readers who may blindly throw themselves into situations they despise which will then create very undesired life experiences.
Remember, Michael did NOT allow himself to feel "despise" for any of the things he accepted but initially felt dislike for. THAT's the key and it created amazing results for Michael. If you cannot follow that ability to turn "initial dislike" into "full positive love and acceptance" for things you really don't wanna do, then you may not wanna blindly follow what Michael's doing in this book. (again... see my overall comment below). Personally, I believe the Universe has infinite opportunities available for us all to experience and it's much more fun for me to align with the manifestation of enjoyable ones, so I choose to do that. :)
Is this all just too perfect?
At times, after reading one life event after another that miraculously turned out just fine, I found myself wondering if this is just almost too perfect. The book is doing an awesome job of articulating a series of selected events that were perfectly timed and that worked out beautifully each time. BUT.... any stories of following whatever life brought to you only to have it blow up in your face? Surely that MUST have happened a few times in 40 years.
Can't help but wonder... were there other events occurring that did not go so well. Quite a few staff members were divinely timed hires. Certainly not all hired employees showed up effortlessly and perfectly timed (for example). Yes, there was the FBI raid where all hell seemed to break loose.... but my mind wondered.... did Michael feel like the employee (who was taking kickbacks) was an effortless and divinely timed hire when that employee showed up? But to be fair, there were other stories of "things seemingly gone wrong... then turned out just fine."
Michael says the growth of the company was astonishing and with it came all the problems associated with a rapidly growing technology company. But doesn't quite say how those typical problems were experienced. Were they all experienced with effortless serendipity? Or was it the typical corporate drama.
Wait, there WERE some preferences expressed:
The book seems to be heavily embracing the "surrender all of your preferences" concept but there were times when I thought "Well isn't THAT a preference?" For example, why NOT simply surrender to the trees being cut down (Ch 38) vs attempting to preserve it which is what Michael did. Why not say "Hey, so trees are being chopped down in our beautiful neighboring surroundings... life just delivered that so I'll just accept it." Nope, Michael had a preference for saving the trees and leased the land to save them. Scratched my head on that one as it seemed like a clear desire/preference to me. The outcome from leasing the land was pretty cool but still.... I wondered.
Mind vs Spirit/Intuition talking
He talks about not listening to the resistant chatter going on in your mind, but what about being guided by the Spirit within to NOT do something? The book didn't address intuitively NOT doing something. It was either focused on not listening to the mind or not resisting whatever life put in front of you. Perhaps he perceives NOT listening to the mind as, by default, listening to your Spirit/intuition? If you're just being the observer of your thoughts, then by default you are indeed following the Spirit? Not sure, but I was left wondering about that as the concept of intuition wasn't addressed (except for the intuitive flow of inspiration in completing projects).
Merge this with Law of Attraction maybe?
Perhaps the Law of Attraction that many Spiritual/new-age people are trying to "master" or "use" isn't as complicated as we make it. ALSO, to fly in the face of what this book is about, MAYBE... just MAYBE.... one can indeed envision preferences and desires, then promptly move your daggone butt out of the way, surrendering to the natural flow of whatever shows up, expecting no particular outcome and remaining completely unattached. I say MAYBE.... yet I'm aware there's plenty of evidence of this being true (e.g. Three Simple Steps by Trevor Blake or Parallel Realities of Self by Frederick Dodson, and a bazillion other authors).
Amazing book! A totally riveting page-turner! Five stars all the way! Another masterpiece delivered by Michael Singer and I am SO glad I bought both the paper-back and the audio version. I read them both together - kinda like Michael reading it to me (cool that this audiobook was read by him - Untethered Soul audiobook was not read by him but it was still awesomely read).
The powerful stories in this book almost... ALMOST... made me second-guess my belief in "you create your own reality." But alas, once the last chapter was read, I realized I have my own slew of stories to support creating my own reality and so do others who do not follow the "surrender all your preferences." teaching (again e.g. Three Simple Steps by Trevor Blake or Parallel Realities of Self by Frederick Dodson). It's awesome reading books like The Surrender Experiment however, because you get clear validation that there is indeed more than one way to dance to the music of life and experience amazing results.
Ever wondered how authors can provide such amazing supporting evidence of their very different teachings/beliefs? Easy peasy... it's Universal Law - that which you believe must become your reality. Michael Singer believes in "surrender your preferences and life will support you" and that became his reality. Trevor Blake believes in "set your intentions then let go and allow the Universe to do it's magic" and that became his reality. Frederick Dodson believes in "get clear on what you want, shift into that parallel reality and you'll experience it" and magically, that became his reality. It's Universal Law at work - whatever you firmly believe will happen MUST therefore become your reality (even bad stuff I might add - be careful!). So just choose your preferred "awesome sauce" recipe that resonates and flow with it. We are THAT powerful as creators of our own human experiences - makes life very cool I think, don't you? :)
As I said WAY back in the beginning of this review, I take what resonates and discard what does not when it comes to *any* spiritual teacher. Love Michael Singer's work a whole lot, yet I believe we're each here to have our own unique life experiences on this earthly ride. At the end of anyone's "spiritual teachings" remember to pause, lay aside the excitement of discovering something new, take a breather, then go within... meditate.... get quiet enough to access your OWN inner compass/guidance, your own intuition, the Spirit within you.... to see what aspects of that new teaching was actually meant for YOU at this time.
For me, my own life experiment will be a merger of expressing my desires to the Universe AND (thanks to Michael) surrendering a whole lot more to whatever shows up. Different than Michael for sure... and we'll see where that little experiment takes me. Hey, life is a playground and I'm gonna play it any way I like darnit! :)
Really loooooong review. BUT... hope it was helpful to you my fellow Amazon browsers and spiritual seekers! :)
What if we stopping trying to control the world around us and just listened to what the universe or God wants for us? If we can trust the universal intelligence to keep planets and galaxies and nuclei spinning - to make gravity work and stars to form and our breath and bodies to function - why can't we trust that the universe knows what is best for us?
Michael Singer decided to listen to God's plan for him and not consider whether he LIKED it or not. He decided to just go with what life put in front of him. As a young man he only wanted to live in the woods and meditate. Then God moved him toward becoming a teacher, then a house builder, then a computer programmer - and to found a spiritual community in the meantime. He didn't plan for any of these things. If someone asked him to build a computer program, he did it. If someone moved onto this land without permission and start building a house (!), he allowed it to happen.
Surrender doesn't mean giving up on dreams or creativity. It doesn't mean letting people walk over you. It means saying "I intuitively feel that the universe put this person in my path for a reason, so I will listen to what she has to say. I believe God wants me to do this, so I am going to do it even though I may not think I'll be good at it."
It is astonishing how many amazing coincidences and tiny miracles happened in his life when he started trusting God's path rather than what he thought he wanted. When he stopped trying to control the world around him and went with the flow.
I have already started applying these principles in my life and feel so much more peaceful. Rather than worrying if I am doing the right thing or worrying that someone may not do what I WANT him to do - I am just trusting that things will work as they should. I guess this is faith, but I've never really experienced this feeling before. What if I just let go of trying to control the world around me - which as we all know is impossible - and just had faith in the universal plan?
The tricky part is… How do you know what the universe wants you to do? How do you know what are just your thoughts versus what is a divine message? I think you have to quiet "the voice in the head" through meditation to become more in touch with the greater intelligence. meditation is hard for me but I am trying! It is called a practice for a reason. I would love at some point to hear more advice from Mr. Singer about divining the divine intelligence.
Seekers of all kinds - I think you will love this book and get so much out of it!
I happen to live with a wise guru who always lives in the present moment, and she agrees that Michael Singer is pretty enlightened, for a human! :-)
**I have relied on reviews for years and am finally reviewing products I love. Thanks to everyone who writes reviews; I hope mine was helpful!**