I know, I know. You’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover. However, the first time I saw the book cover for The Art of Surrender: A Practical Guide to Enlightened Happiness and Well-Being, by Eiman Al Zaabi, something resonated with me.
Quite often, when I take walks, I find bird feathers on my path. In fact, I have found and brought home so many feathers, that my son has felt the need to tell me it’s illegal to collect bird feathers without a license. Who knew?
Knowing this, if I’m the one who continues to find the same type of feather, on the same walking path, day-in and day-out, there must be something there for me.
There must be some kind of message buried in the “finding of the feathers.”
During the time of the feathers showing up, I’ve dealt with my own struggles of life. I have not been someone who has found surrender to be easy. I have had to learn little-by-little that after you’ve done everything you know to do, all that remains is to surrender.
Eiman Al Zaabi has also dealt with the difficulty of surrender. After years of suffering from anxiety and panic disorders, little-by-little she has come to understand that there is indeed an art to surrender.
By combining her Muslim faith and spirituality to heal, The Art of Surrender beautifully chronicles her journey of healing while also serving as a practical guidebook for others to do the same.
Now a life coach, energy healer and spiritual teacher who helps clients transform their relationships and careers, heal from past trauma, and live authentically, I had the pleasure to speak with Eiman about what it means to live a life of surrender:
BJB: What was the catalyst in your life that led to your surrender and inspired your book, The Art of Surrender?
EAZ: Surrender for me has been a life long journey. I suffered from anxiety and panic disorder and depression. It was very intense and I had it for about seven years of my life.
When you’re in a state of anxiety, you want to have control over your surroundings and what’s around you to make sure you’re safe. The whole experience taught me that you need to let go of your fear.
As soon as I learned how to do energy work, I started to open up a bit more. From there, I went on a path towards healing while doing energy work. However, this wasn’t an easy path. My family was against it. They didn’t like what I was doing because they felt I was crossing my faith.
One of the first stories I write about, in the book, is of me and my sister talking about how strongly she felt what I was doing was wrong. I believe in energy work, and I believe it helped take me out of depression but, I believe in my religion too.
The whole story of surrender was about bridging the two so the two truths could speak to each other in a way that would feel harmonious. This is the path that I’m on right now.
BJB: Could you describe your definition of what it means to surrender?
EAZ: Surrender is often looked at as a negative thing, we are encouraged to take charge of our lives and keep going whether we hit a wall or not. If you talk about surrender in the human sense on a human level, this is where you may feel weak surrendering to someone who is at your level. However, if you surrender to a a higher power, you bring that power into your life and allow it to consciously move you towards your goals, dreams and desires. It’s a surrender that is more harmonious balanced.
Surrender is the art of operating in a governed universe by stepping into the sacred circle with the Divine. This is where you give over, rather than let go.
You give over that which you cannot control and you do that through the act of prayer. You’re not letting go of anything. You’re giving over by surrendering your problems, anxieties, and fears to the creator of all; knowing and trusting the power, which operates the
Universe, has you in mind and can operate your life as well.
BJB: What’s the difference between surrender and letting go?
EAZ: With letting go, it’s an emotional state that we feel, and you can feel despondent or helpless at times.
With surrender, your desire is still active in you and you’re always thinking about it. It’s always there and you’re actively seeking it. You know it’s coming, and it’s just a matter of time. You put the action out there, you allow the results to come, allow things to merge into your experience and then you take the next step, and the next one.
BJB: Why do you think weakness is sometimes associated with surrender?
EAZ: I think it’s the ego in us that seeks control. If anything is outside of this control it feels like, “I am not self-sufficient. I cannot do it myself.” That feels like weakness. The minute you hand it over to anything, including a higher power, we start to feel weak. I think this is a misunderstanding in the way we understand our lives, the way we understand spirituality and the way reality is.
Life teaches us that nothing is in our control. Nothing.
What you are in control of are your actions, your thoughts, and emotions. That’s it. You can’t guarantee the results. There is always that element of unpredictability. This is one of the things I talk about in the book when I talk about Universal Laws.
You need to shift how you see the world to be able to understand how surrender operates and functions, instead of thinking everything must be in my control. Life teaches you you’re going to fail, things will get out of control, and your ego will be bruised.
Getting the bigger picture in your mind will allow you to move forward in a more peaceful and harmonious way.
BJB: You were raised in the Muslim faith. Can you explain how you combine the underlying principles of Islam and New Thought Ancient teachings to strengthen your spiritual foundation?
EAZ: The way I see spirituality and religion are both two sides of the same coin. There’s no separation there, for me at least. Religion is the platform, the moral compass with which we operate.
The other side of spirituality is the day-to-day encounter with the Divine.
These are the moments when you watch the sunset, or see the rain coming down, and know that something magical is happening. You get “aha” moments or realizations, and you feel grateful. Religion and spirituality are intertwined without separation.
Religion encompasses the doing, while spirituality is the being side of us.
So for me, as a Muslim, Islam teaches us principles that I live by but I’m also keen to encounter God in my everyday life and mainly through practices of surrender.
Islam in its essence means submission, a Muslim is someone who has ‘submitted’ or given their life over to their creator. That’s the essence of Islam and the principle by which my book The Art of Surrender is founded on.
BJB: “When you ask a question, it already carries the answer, even when the answer does not come to your consciousness for a while.” Could you talk about this and how we block ourselves from receiving answers?
EAZ: The human mind is designed to ask questions. It’s a matter of channeling that energy to be able to ask the bigger and the smaller questions of life. When you come to understand the quality of the Divine power that has created us, that’s the spiritual inquiry and the purpose of the mind. But for every question you throw out there, you may not get the answer right away and sometimes you will by receiving an “aha” moment, insight or a revelation. Trusting that every question you ask is already pregnant with an answer.
You don’t deliver a baby prematurely; you allow the baby (in this case your answer/awareness) to come when the time is right. Usually that’s when we are ready to receive the answer.
When we mature in our understanding and consciousness, we get these little gifts that add to our perception of life. The quality of our life experience and our state of happiness is dependent on the quality of our perceptions. Therefore, it’s very important that we ask questions to keep evolving and changing to reach a state of contentment, happiness and joy.
I’m always asking questions and in a state of inquiry. I ask deep questions and light questions, it doesn’t matter. Then I let it go because I’m not attached to the answer. I know that when the time is right, the answer will come.
Sometimes, I have noticed, the bigger questions do not bring answers. You may ask the small questions like, “What is my next step?” or “Show me a vision of that which I need next, or that which I need to clear or remove from my life, so I can progress toward my vision?”
You ask the small question to get the answer in small chunks, but you keep the larger vision in mind.
Spiritual questions that add meaning to your life may be something that you ask as you experience life on a daily basis, you may ask: what quality of the Divine is reflected in the variety of flowers I see during the summer months? Or what is the storm that has hit 100 houses here to teach me about life?
An answer will arrive to you in many ways, it may come in the form of a thought, a dream, a symbol or an article or a book you read.
BJB: What has been the most surprising and unexpected part of the spiritual journey for you?
EAZ: How close I can be to God. It’s heart touching to know that every second, every moment of your life you are close to God.
BJB: Having relayed so much spiritual information, what unanswered questions do you have?
EAZ: I’m interested in near death experiences. It’s an area I’d like to investigate. I know these people who have experienced this have gone to the realm of truth. What did they bring back? That’s one area I’d like to try to decipher for myself and how it relates to my religion.
BJB: What would you like for readers to know about The Art of Surrender that we have not covered?
EAZ: Surrender is a journey. It isn’t an incidental thing, or something that you practice during crisis. Surrender is a way of life and is integral to a life that is well lived. When you wake up in the morning and ask, “Show me, how I can be of service today?” That is a state of surrender.
Sometimes my prayer is: I surrender the day to you and you already know what I want, allow this day to be blessed and bring the best in this day.
I always end up having a fulfilling and productive day.
It’s so easy for us to get in a state of hopelessness when we’re paralyzed, but why do that when there’s a God that hears you. To reach the state of absolute surrender you need to allow yourself to go on that journey to make the leap of faith and see what happens!
It wasn’t until I spoke with Eiman Al Zaabi, did it become clear to me why I liked the cover of her book and why I continue to find feathers.
In the most delightful response, when I asked how she decided on the cover for the book, I was once again reminded “when the student is ready the teacher will appear.”
According to Eiman Al Zaabi, “The feather is all about surrender, because when you surrender you become a feather.”
Throughout all of my struggles, all my concerns, and throughout all of my attempts to control an outcome, it never occurred to me that a tiny little feather could hold such a profound message:
There is great power in powerlessness.
The feather doesn’t try determine which way it’s going to go. It just floats with life and is carried by God. I can only imagine if I, if we, let the Divine Presence carry us where we need to go, just how light our lives would feel.
For more information on The Art of Surrender or Eiman Al Zaabi, you can log onto www.eimanalzaabi.com/.