The Last Word: Thoughts on Surrender
Written by Ashley Spence
Photography by Neil Gandhi
Some of the hardest moments in my life, personally and professionally, have taught me what a beautiful gift it is to surrender.
As an entrepreneur, I have learned that to lead with grace and integrity, I must be comfortable with surrendering. Sometimes we must surrender to factors beyond our control. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work hard toward an outcome: Work tirelessly to achieve an outcome, and once you have exhausted all efforts without success, change your perspective. Sometimes by stepping off the path you thought was the way, you find the path you are meant to be on.
You must surrender your ego, because it is impossible to lead a team or be a good business partner without at times surrendering ideas, your perceived "right way" and some visions. The success of Wanderlust Yoga is not dependent upon me but upon the entire village of people who give their hearts and souls to our greater mission, working together as one. At times we have different viewpoints, yet our purpose and core values are the same. You must surrender your ego, listen to others, and take risks to move your business forward to greatness. Most importantly, you have to surrender to failure, because by acknowledging your losses, you learn so much from the fall. And that is how you become great: You humbly rise up smarter, stronger, and more determined than ever before.
In my personal life, surrendering liberated my entire way of being. When I was 19 years old, I suffered a brutal sexual assault that nearly took my life. The case was cold for seven years, and in the beginning I refused to surrender. I thought being strong meant hiding this dark wound from the world, and I tried to carry on with my life as though nothing had happened. I was on the most destructive path, until I found yoga. Yoga taught me not only physical and inner strength and peace, but it taught me to surrender. It gave me a safe space where I could let myself feel the anger, sadness, and shame that was buried deep down inside. It taught me to release the feelings that were harming me and my life.
The tough times we endure can either control us and we can battle them for rest of our lives, or through surrendering to them, we can accept what was and use our experiences to blossom into compassionate, non-judgmental individuals who know how hard life can be yet who also can see such beauty and hope. By allowing myself to surrender, I began to feel the things I had buried, and I began heal. I didn’t need to live in silence, shame, or fear any longer. I found my voice.
Even though there is so much courage in surrendering, it shouldn’t be a forever state. Life is a dance of surrender and grace, tenacity, and strength. When you rise up after surrendering, rise up with steady determination, loving compassion, and understanding to make your life more impactful than ever before.
Ashley Spence is the founder of Wanderlust Yoga, which has studios in downtown Austin and The Domain. Wanderlust also holds public events in Austin at sites such as Republic Square and conducts retreats worldwide.
The Wanderlust mission is one of purpose and passion: Our PURPOSE is to create a community that inspires people to better their lives and make a difference. Our PASSION is to offer a unique experience that builds courage, freedom, mindfulness, and vitality.