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The Ecstacy of Surrender: An Interview with Dr. Judith Orloff

by Edie Weinstein

In the past few years, I have enjoyed witnessing the evolution of the work of Dr. Judith Orloff. Trained as a medical doctor, born to be an intuitive healer, she deftly merges the best of both worlds. With mainstream credibility, she is able to communicate what some might view as out of the box concepts, in language that makes sense to those who might otherwise steer clear. She is a board-certified psychiatrist and assistant professor of psychiatry at UCLA.

Her latest book, entitled "The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your Life" (Harmony Books, 2014) describes the power of letting go in everyday life, health, and wellness—an enlivening and sane alternative to pushing, forcing, and over controlling people and situations. In addition, her struggles acknowledging and then finally embracing her gift of intuition are chronicled in "Second Sight" (Warner Books). Her second book, "Dr. Orloff’s: Guide to Intuitive Healing" (Three Rivers Press) shows how breakthroughs in healing our body, emotions, and sexuality can be accomplished by listening to intuition. "Positive Energy" which has been translated into 23 languages, takes a probing look at the American epidemic of exhaustion and how we can reverse it using specific strategies to build energy and combat draining people. Her New York Times Bestseller, "Emotional Freedom" describes how to transform negative emotions into positive ones with specific techniques.

The Ecstasy of Surrender is the perfect guidebook for those who believe that holding on, efforting, and doing is the path to success. Quite the contrary, Dr. Orloff expounds on the Sanskrit concept of surrender as "giving over" not giving up as many may fear. It is a practice and not a ‘one and done’ event. She applies these concepts to the realms of physical and emotional wellbeing, to attracting a soul mate, to slowing the process of aging, to healing conflicts and enhancing all relationships.

Wisdom: Since the word ‘surrender’ is in the title, please define it, since it means something different for each one of us.

 Judith: In this book, I invite people to explore the sublime state of surrender: how to increasingly achieve it each day to improve the quality of your life, reduce stress, and have much more fun by lifting the curse of being overly serious. I’m defining it as the grace of letting go at the right moment—the ability to accept what-is, to exhale and flow downstream with the cycles of life instead of battling them, obsessively attaching to people and outcomes, or anxiously brooding. I’m intrigued with the idea of surrender, not as defeat or loss—as it is frequently thought of—but as a positive, intuitive way of living, power that grows as you develop trust in the moment as well as in change and the unknown. To the linear mind, it doesn’t seem like surrender will work It only feels like loss and defeat. On a much deeper level, surrender will work better than anything you have ever done. You have just have to give it a try and console your worried linear mind that all will be ok until you get positive feedback about this strategy of surrender.

 Wisdom: Why is the idea of letting go so frightening for most people?

 Judith: Westerners particularly are programmed to believe that if they don’t control everything at every moment things will far apart. We’re afraid of so many things when it comes to letting go: we are afraid of trusting, we are afraid of opening our hearts, we are afraid of our bodies and pleasure. What if we get hurt? What if our hearts get broken? What if we fail? Bottom line, these are all fears that we must lovingly and compassionately surrender in order to feel and trust the divine flow of our lives!

Wisdom: Is it the concept of ‘knowing when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em’?

Judith: In my book, I emphasize that there is an art to knowing when to assert control and do everything possible to "make things happen." And there is the art of knowing when to let go. Most people only push and then inadvertently sabotage themselves by turning other people off or not making the most of the right intuitive timing for to achieve goals. Success on the deepest levels, in every part of your life, entails trusting intuition and flow AND getting your ego out of the way when it is not serving you.

 Wisdom: How can we release attachment to outcome?

 Judith: The skill of surrender means tuning in to know when you have "done" enough and knowing when it will serve you better to give a project or a relationship some breathing room. Then we must take a big exhale, knowing in the core of our being that surrender is the right move. Then we must "turn the outcome over" to Spirit, to the universe or whatever term you use to mean a power greater than yourself. You can do this surrender in meditation and be of a pure heart. STOP OBSESSING. Then, the hard part is to say each day "I release you with love" whether you are referring to a career move, a relationship, or anything else. Try to have trust and faith the universe has your back.

Wisdom: What is the downside of holding on?

Judith: You stress yourself out, alienate other people by pushing too hard, being over-anxious, and don’t serve your highest goal of success. You may not realize it but when you hold on too tight it is like a death grip that suffocates all possibility.

Wisdom: In your field, illness and death are viewed as failures. As a doctor, how do you let go of attachment to patient outcomes?

Judith: I have a deep love for my patients, but I also have a deep respect for the life/death/afterlife cycle. No one would ask for illness but sometimes it is a karmic lesson that people must go through. The lesson of illness is always to love your body more and open your heart. Illness is not a failure—it is an opportunity for soul growth. That’s how I view illness with my patients. Plus I utterly trust their path and honor the path of illness if it presents itself. Death, on the other hand is inevitable. I loved writing the chapter in the book on Death and the Afterlife. Death is the final surrender for all of us—an edge that we can’t back off from. We have to jump. We have to fly. I want to help my patients die without fear and with lots of faith in the light and the continuation of their soul’s journey. Really, there is no death, only other realms.

Wisdom: Is it about being willing to give up what you have for what is possible? Let’s Make A Deal....door #1 or curtain #2.

Judith: It is very important to open to the beauty of what’s possible without trying to over think and control it. Sometimes surrender means giving something up. While writing this book, I surrendered so much: my condo where I wrote all my books due to excessive construction noise. I gave up all my possessions by choice to start fresh. I surrendered a boyfriend, a long time therapist and moved 12 times in one year! It was scary and also what an adventure. I am SO much happier now as a result, so much freer, more flexible, playful etc. On the other hand some times you DON’T have to give up anything to surrender. For example, when you surrender to love, to pleasure, to the magic of nature, to the stars. I am totally passionate about showing people how to let go to bliss so they can savor everything!

Wisdom: What is the difference between tenacity and micromanaging?

Judith: Tenacity is sticking to something and working hard and not giving up in the face of adversity. Intuition must be driving this, not ego, for it to have the best chance of working. Micromanaging is when you’re overly involved with something and it alienates other people involved or squelches the energy of an endeavor. The key to surrender that I teach in the book is knowing when to be tenacious and knowing when to let go and let the universe work its magic.

Wisdom: What does intuition have to do with surrender?

Judith: Intuition is the still small, non-linear voice that tells you the truth about things. It comes in a gut feeling, an aha-flash, a dream, a knowing. It is very important to surrender to your intuition every day and not fight it or second guess it. The ego and linear mind resist doing this but listen to your intuition anyways, surrender to it, trust where it leads and see the results!

Wisdom: What are the four types of surrender you speak of in the book?

Judith: Intellectual surrender, Emotional Surrender, Physical/Sensual Surrender, Energetic Surrender. It’s letting go on all levels so you can dive deeply into your success goals and relationships. For instance, emotional surrender may mean letting yourself cry, not holding tears back so you may heal. Physical surrender is letting go during an orgasm, a good belly laugh, during sleep and in dreams. Intellectual surrender means letting go of any old outdated attitudes that don’t serve you. Energetic surrender is going with the energy of your life like a creek winding its way downstream. Flow like water and enjoy every moment of it!

Wisdom: How can we cross over from control to ecstasy?

Judith: I used the word ecstasy in the title of my book because it is something everyone can achieve though they might not know it. Ecstasy—and I mean ecstasy!—comes from surrendering fully to the moment, flowing instead of clenching, feeling spirit instead of futilely trying to control what cannot be controlled, looking up at the sky and saying "I surrender to you" and feeling the bliss of that. Just look up at the sky and see the magic and hugeness of the universe. You can’t control it all, so relax! Knowing this is the beginning of knowing bliss.

Wisdom: Bliss is one of my favorite words. What does it take to live from the inside out?

Judith: A pure desire to do so. Surrendering to being as well as doing. Get your priorities straight and stick to them. For me there are only a few priorities, really. Love, service, joy, and doing the best you can in life, then letting it all go. Anything "external" is not as important as these priorities. The native people say westerners have "the hurry sickness". To heal all this rushing around, go inward, savor the moments, go inside and love yourself and treasure your soul!

Wisdom: You speak of the idea of comparing ourselves to others. Is it totally non-productive or is there ever an upside to it?

Judith: The upside to comparisons is when you admire people and strive to be like them to better yourself. The downside of comparisons is that you feel less-than and are full of self-loathing. Surrender to the compassionate love of your own UNIQUE path and your own unique personality and body. Each person has the perfect path that was made for them. In a spiritual sense, comparisons are nonsensical. Surrender comparison, surrender jealousy and envy to the best of your ability and even wish your rivals well. That will free you and create a better world!

Wisdom: What is the "set point for happiness" idea?

Judith: The set point for happiness means that each person is programed with a basic happiness level. In the book, I stress that no matter how many external things you achieve such as fame, fortune, outer success they can’t make you happy if you weren’t at least somewhat happy before. But mindfulness meditation, positive thinking, and spiritual practice can increase your happiness set point so that you get happier quicker and happiness lasts longer. So surrender to your heart, inner self, and spiritual practice and you will surely be happier! Try it out!

Wisdom: Hard to imagine speaking of ecstasy without sexuality playing into it. Can you elaborate on the ways in which sexual/sensual surrender are empowering?

Judith: Lovemaking is a way to surrender to God. Your body is divine. Your body is an extension of spirit. In the book I have exercises to surrender to your sensual self even if you don’t have a partner. Surrendering to sexuality entails becoming naked in the deepest most fun ways, unguarded, undefended, melting into the energy of connecting with a partner. Or simply during orgasm to connect with the energy of spirit. Practice the techniques in the book and have fun feeling what I am talking about!

Wisdom: How about soul mate relationships and surrender.

Judith: First I want to say in the book that it is not karmically necessary for everyone to have a soul mate. The primary relationship is with the self. However if you are on the soul mate path it is an intense path of surrendering fears and areas of self-loathing, and opening your heart to another person who you love. The function of soul mates is to help each other’s souls grow, to be mirrors for each other’s positive and negative points. It is natural to have some incompatibilities with a soul mate since these are what prompt us to grow. Soul mate can be wonderful companions and help us to love. The point of surrender is to let go to love more and more, to shed fear, and be models for a new kind of human being. The commitment of surrender is to intuition and to love and to your soul’s growth and to the soul of the world. Let go to it all. Trust. I hope my book can help get you there!

Judith Orloff MD is a UCLA psychiatrist, intuitive healer, and NY Times bestselling author. Come celebrate the New York launch of Judith’s new book The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your Life April 2 7PM at the New York Open Center and April 8 at Unity of New York. For more inspiration and Dr. Orloff’s tour schedule visit www.drjudithorloff.com

ORDER THE BOOK ONLINE AT: http://www.amazon.com/Judith-Orloff/e/B000AP8R6O

Celebrate the release of Dr. Judith Orloff’s new book, The Ecstasy of Surrender, Saturday, April 5 in an Afternoon Workshop at West Hartford Yoga Center, West Hartford, CT. For more info call (860) 953-9642 or go to www.westhartfordyoga.com

Celebrate the release of Dr. Judith Orloff’s new book, The Ecstasy of Surrender, 7pm, April 2nd at The New York Open Center and April 6th at the Unity Church of NY. For more info go to www.drjudithorloff.com

Edie Weinstein, MSW, LSW is a colorfully creative journalist, dynamic transformational speaker and workshop facilitator, licensed social worker, interfaith minister, radio host (It’s All About Relationships www.vividlife.me) and the author of The Bliss Mistress Guide To Transforming The Ordinary Into The Extraordinary. www.liveinjoy.org   


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