Living Systems, Part II: Conscious Surrendering

By on March 01, 2017 — 11 Comments

Recently I’ve realised that creating a living system is only the first stage in a much longer process. (A previous blog explores my approach to Working with Nature to Develop a Living System.)

The initial phase of any creative venture can be both exciting and demanding. Writing a book, building a business, creating a garden all require a lot of energy and perseverance to go the distance particularly when things aren’t obvious or easy. At the same time, our western entrepreneurial spirit, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way…” encourages our creative ingenuity, firmly entrenching into our collective psyche a template for personal accomplishment through continual striving.

However, if we aspire to coordinate with Nature’s energies in creating a living system, one that is in complete harmony with all that is, the next stage of growth turns the concept of striving on its head. This is where I find myself now — recognising the need for a conscious surrender, both at the personal level and with Raven Essences itself.

Partly due to ageing and an intuitive awareness that these times require a different approach, I find myself needing to let go some of the ways I worked with Raven Essences in its infancy. The enthusiasm and stamina that allowed me to override my body’s needs simply don’t work anymore. Not only has my energy shifted, but the project no longer requires the same degree of intense creative energy as in previous years. However, consciously surrendering old strengths is not easy even when it is obvious they no longer serve me! At times, I still find myself pushing too hard when I am tired. Instead of softening into a new rhythm, I may tend to feel frustrated when things don’t work as planned, and I tend to waste precious energy worrying rather than resting.

We have very few healthy templates for how to creatively engage with Life when we enter this part of the creative cycle. We might wonder, How are we to surrender when hard work has been our primary way to achieve all we’ve gained, and when is the right time to consciously let go?

These questions kept rising in me as I faced my need to change. When I witnessed a client also seeking to re-orient herself at a similar crossroad in her work, the answer become clear. It was an understanding that indigenous people have embraced throughout the ages: Give everything back to the Creator…

Putting this in perspective… When we have worked to create something original, we rightly assume protective ownership at the start, as a mother holds and contains her baby in her womb.

A similar fierce and dedicated loving must surround our creative ventures at the initial phase for them to bear strong, healthy fruits later.

To develop this analogy, when the baby is born, he/she begins life in the world protected by the parents and gradually integrating into the larger community. In an environment of love and support, the child is encouraged to naturally develop and express his/her unique talents.

Similarly, with our creative endeavors, once we launch them in the world and others resonate with what we are offering, our projects gradually mature, gain strength, and develop some autonomy. While we are not what we have created, we are still very engaged in this phase of the growth process.
Then, as with all young people, a time comes when we must let them go when the life-force within the young person is sufficiently strong and stable for them to be independent. Now our parental role is to loosen the protective bonds of love — to trust the Great Mystery and to release our loved ones into their particular dance with life.

We do this with our children, but rarely do we consider how this process would transpire with a business or a creative project. Yet I knew it was important to surrender our creative children. Here’s why…

When the time is ripe, if we do not let our creative projects go, by handing them over in conscious, loving trust to the larger creative matrix of Life, they will begin to wither and die.

As soon as I articulated this to my client, I felt the truth in my own work.

I also understood why indigenous peoples remind us to think seven generations ahead when we take any action now. For anything to thrive in 150 years, it will not be because continuity assured through enormous trust funds or the brilliance of our strategies. When a living system is part of the creative matrix of life, it naturally sustains itself through constant evolution.

Indigenous people know the importance of honouring their sacred relationship Life. Their rituals and prayers keep them in an ever-changing, living relationship with the sacred earth. They remember to give thanks for what they have received from the earth, and they return life’s blessing by constantly giving back to the Creator. We have lost and forgotten these ways.

Handing anything over, surrendering what you love and have poured your life-energy into, involves a letting go that can feel like dying. Most of us resist letting go. Ever focused on progress and achievement, we tend to falter when Death, in any of its dark disguises, stares us in the face.

Fear latches us firmly to what is familiar. Then, anxious and driven, we wrestle with the challenges in our lives and if we cannot find a way to surrender, we collapse.

Meanwhile, another energy calls us with a gentle invitation… to listen, let go, and soften into the necessary, and even the beautiful process of dying.

Plants do it every autumn. They release their leaves, often with a blaze of glory, and rest in winter’s cold. They ‘die’ so that new life may be born again in the spring. Graceful and willing, they do not resist this process as we do.

There are other reasons why, as human beings, we must learn to let go...

Consider the fact that once one project has fulfilled itself within our creative womb, there may be other work that we are called to do. We need ’empty’ space for new energies to gently nestle into our consciousness. We need time to find a new rhythm, one suited to our current age, energy, and temperament to realign ourselves with the Great Mystery. Resting in the quiet, we may welcome the surge of love that naturally rises in the wake of letting go.

All creative work is heart-work, yet this darker phase of conscious surrender is not about the passion’s familiar stimulation. Conscious surrendering initiates a different kind of passion, one more associated with Easter, a passion involving grief, dying, and a willing descent into the quiet depths of love.

As we surrender, our willingness to let go into Love becomes the fertile compost that nurtures and sustains creative seeds for future generations.

May we continue to courageously turn into our ego’s natural death, so that new life can set its roots within us.




  1. “Letting go into Love” is a mantra I will carry with me for the next while. Thank you Andrea for articulating a similar experience in my own creative process.

    • Letting Go into Love is a deepening theme for me as well, Linda.

  2. What a lovely way to look at the later years of your life. Starting this process when you are in your 60s can help you change your thinking about what your later years will be. I’m looking forward to taking this to heart. Thank you Andrea.

    • Thank you, Judy, for putting this writing squarely within the context of the aging process! It’s true… I’m not sure the real work of letting go comes much earlier, at least in my experience!

  3. Andrea you have beautifully articulated a basic truth that so many have struggled with, myself included. I have spent the last two years working with this great shift and so your words … We need ‘empty’ space for new energies to gently nestle into our consciousness. We need time to find a new rhythm, one suited to our current age, energy, and temperament to realign ourselves with the Great Mystery. Resting in the quiet, we may welcome the surge of love that naturally rises in the wake of letting go …. they ring so true for me. Thank you for the gifts you continue to unwrap and share with us!

    • Thank you, Sarah, for your thoughtful comment. Having witnessed your journey of letting go over many months through your beautiful blog, I appreciate your resonance with this theme. You have certainly walked your talk over the past while!

  4. It’s my birthday and this is a wonderful present.

    • Happy Birthday, Dianne!

  5. I have just opened my email and read your latest blog, Andrea, and it resonates very deeply with me. My mother passed away two days ago, here in Ayr, on the south-west coast of Scotland, with my brother and me at her side. Waking up this morning, I was thinking hard about what I want to say at the ceremony we are planning ….then I decided to leave it for a while, knowing that the right words will come.
    So very glad I read your blog today. This trip has deepened my connection with my mother’s birthplace, and that of my grandmother, and although I’ve been coming here for fifty years, this time of her passing is revealing new pathways – emotional; spiritual; cultural and natural. Pathways handed down, and pathways leading onward.
    The sun is shining brilliantly today, and a few blocks away, the sea is rolling in to shore…I’m grateful to my Mum for giving me this slice of Scotland to carry with me. And to you, for sharing what you know.

    • Jana, I’m deeply touched by your words. May your heart be eased as you let go into your grieving in that beautiful landscape. Call me when you return, if you can. In the meantime, many blessings, Andrea

  6. Andrea, Once again you have so gently and powerfully expressed the wisdom that comes from that deep Loving Presence that you embody. I am so grateful for your offering today. As so many have already expressed this is indeed a time of letting go and creating an opening of empty space. My life has been undergoing many changes over the past few months. I found myself out of the workforce the end of February and have spent the last several weeks resting and reflecting on what comes next. I have spent time reorganizing my home space — letting go of that which is no longer of any use to me and leaving lots of empty space around me. I took down all the art work on the walls and left them bare for a time. Sitting in the quiet surrounded by nature and blank white walls I began to feel the creative force once again returning. Like you my body is aging and I no longer feel the desire to strive and push myself beyond what the wisdom of my body is telling me. Instead I am learning how to lean into that which is challenging me rather than pushing it away or trying to overcome it. Leaning into life allows us to be more open and trust that Love is there to guide and protect us. Remember those trust exercises we did when you stood behind someone and they had to let themselves go and trust you would be there to support them? That is how I experience the Love of Great Mystery. When I can allow myself to trust and let myself relax enough to let go I can feel the Loving support around me and the arms of Love embrace me. Over the years in my work with entrepreneurs I have often shared my thoughts that the creative project or business that is initiated by us takes on a life of it’s own and when we recognize that and work in harmony with the creative life force of all things we can move more easily from one step of development to next including knowing when to let go allow the natural death of the project to happen if it has served its purpose. Thank you again for your willingness to share so exquisitely what you have uncovered. Here’s to the promise of New Life and spring’s awakening within us.

    Many blessings to you!

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