Ease & Surrender Q&A with Chloe Elgar
August is ‘Ease & Surrender’ month at Mala Collective, which is why we sat down with Holistic Nutritionist, speaker, writer, self-taught food photographer and natural food chef Chloe Elgar, who told us all about how important it is to surrender to life's journey, trust and let go.
Q1 :: What do the words ‘Ease & Surrender’ mean to you?
Ease and surrender; two words that I would have never affiliated myself with in the past. In fact, I most likely interpreted them as lazy and unmotivated. There is a certain level of maturity and experience, which lends to these two expressions.
Knowing when to push and persevere and when to trust and let go. Knowing how and when to surrender doesn’t come easy, it’s not something that we are taught in school, and it requires a large amount of humility. In literal terms, when one thinks of surrender, a picture enters the mind of a battlefield and a raised white flag. The thing is, this illustration also denotes a coward.
Someone giving up, because they are not strong enough or do not have as large a force as their contenders. As with many things in life, we are brought up learning one way to then spend the rest of our lives going back to the basics and re-learning it all in another light.
Outside of the ego you can see that surrendering is not a cowardly act. It’s the opposite. Humility is never cowardly. It takes an immeasurable amount of strength; courage and tenacity to know when to take a step back and stop the fight. In my life, surrender relates to the battles with myself, my inner battles. We all have a dark shadow and we all have an ego. We have a choice of whether we want to live our lives without an awareness of these levels of being or if we want to work, in daily practice, to bring insight and stillness to the qualities of the mind that can create resistance, chaos and unsettling noise.
Surrendering is letting go of resistance, ending the internal battle of thoughts against thoughts and belief building energy- and allowing silence to settle in. Ease and surrender is about peace and silence. The thing is, when things are dandy and life is going well- it’s a lot easier to achieve peace. It’s when life gets challenging and imbalance is around that the ultimate test of surrender presents itself. Where do your thoughts go when life gets tough? How do you speak to yourself and treat yourself (and others) when you’re challenged? That’s what ease and surrender is to me.
Q2 :: Have you had to surrender yourself to anything new in your life recently?
This year has been an incredibly interesting and instrumental year for me in terms of growth and challenge. When you Google the top 10 causes of stress, it becomes clear that I have truly been tested this year. From moving countries, to marriage, to family conflict, to finance, to job changes- it’s been fun. However, out of it I have truly found my center. I grew up with severe eating disorders and was riddled with resistance and self-conflict. In my younger years, there was no such thing as ease and surrender. They did not exist. However, this year what I have learnt is that the universe throws challenge at you in full belief that you can handle it. I’ve also learnt how to differentiate between real problems and made-up self-sabotage.
It’s all about letting go of control and trusting. While I was planning my wedding I was constantly faced with futuristic fears that we wouldn’t have enough money to pay the vendors, that my parents would ruin the wedding with their internal-issues, and that the entire weekend would be rained on. I had nightmares that it would all go up in flames. My intense fixation on controlling these projections caused immense amounts of anxiety. Until I finally realized that ultimately, once you have tried your best and authentically offered your time and energy- there comes a time where your job is done and it’s time to take a step back and trust. There is a difference between giving up because you’re scared and letting it be when you know it’s time to believe. There is a fine line, and it all starts with being honest with yourself.
The same can be said about my business. Leaving the comforts of a full-time, salary based job to doing your own thing and creating your own money and security is a scary thing. If you let it, it will drown you in fear and anxiety. However, I came to doing this out of pure love and passion. The truth is, I didn’t feel like I had a choice- it’s in me to do this. And with that, I also know when to take a step back from financial stress- because sometimes it’s not even about you. It’s not your business to worry.
Side note: the wedding was incredible and there was not one thing I would’ve changed. It was absolutely beautiful. Ease and surrender, the proof is in the (plant-based) pudding.
Q3 :: What are the steps you take when life presents you with a difficult or challenging situation?
When life presents me with a difficult or challenging situation, there are various things that I do, and all they involve silencing the external noise and getting really close and intimate with my center and my truth. Over the years, I have learnt how important it is to be honest and authentic with myself. I always tell clients that the first and most fundamental person to be honest with is you. Don’t worry about everyone else, start with you.
The ways that help me go inward include: being out in nature, writing, cooking, meditation, being with animals, tapping into my intuition (tarot/oracle cards, working with my medical intuitive) and of course, removing myself from distraction.
Q4 :: What are the benefits of surrendering yourself fully to whatever life throws at you?
Challenge is defined by how we see it and how we approach it. I am 28 years old, and can say with confidence that I love challenge because it brings me closer to my intuition, my awareness and my truth. A life without challenge lacks colour. It truly is about the law of attraction. If you look at challenge as something negative and daunting, then it will be just that. Sometimes life is tough and it creates pain and upset in your life. Allowing emotions to be what they are and to travel through you without attachment or judgment is how you will make it through challenge feeling lighter and stronger.
When you allow yourself to surrender, fully, to whatever life throws at you- life will flow much more naturally. Whether you are spiritual or religious, we all know about the concept “this too shall pass”. It doesn’t take a genius to know, when looking at out the world, and staring into nature- that there is a higher power beyond our control or wildest dreams. Be it energy, be it god, be it spirit-we are a piece of the puzzle and it is our duty and our place to trust in our experience, believe in our purpose and surrender to the life that we are here to live.
Q5 :: What are some of your favourite mantras for letting go?
Some of my favourite mantras to surrender to are:
- When I understood and accepted my darkness, I was consumed by my light.
- Supporting another’s success won't’ ever dampen yours.
- In a gentle way you can shake the world- Gandhi
- Admire someone else’ beauty without questioning your own.
- One of the happiest moments in life is when you find the courage to let go of what you can’t change.
- Sometimes what you’re most afraid of is the very thing that will set you free.
- If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.
- I give up freely what is no longer serving me, I release it to create space for what inspires me.
- I surrender.
- Trust the process.
- The world exists as you perceive it. It is not what you see…but how you see it. It is not what you hear…but how you hear it. It is not what you feel…but how you feel it. – Rumi
- Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. – Eckhart Tolle
- When I accept myself, I am free from the burden of needing you to accept me.
Q6 :: Why, do you think, people often feel like they have to control their environment? What potential repercussions might this have?
Control comes from an intense fear of the unknown. Control stems from a desire to feel powerful. Control is an essence of the mind and the ego. So much of human society is regulated through control- from social control, to emotional control to physical control. From diets and exercise to manipulate the way that our bodies look, to government and forms of political power to create a fictional form of order- control is everywhere in the world.
The issue with control is that it is limited and is a creation of the mind. Outside of the mind, there is no such thing as control. Nature has it’s own idea of order and when we stay out of it’s way- there is a certain level of flow that takes place. It’s only when we start to manipulate and try to control nature and natural order, that things can get a bit messy.
The best example that I can think of for this is the human body. Our bodies are built to be strong, flexible and resilient. However, every body is also built to be different. No two bodies are meant to look the same. When you have two people, in two different bodies, eat and drink the exact same thing- chances are the results will be slightly different. This is an issue, when he hold up a standard of beauty and strength and expect the whole world to match it. I spent a lot of my childhood and adolescence trying to control my body. I wanted it to look a certain way, and beyond that, I wanted to cover up and avoid what I was feeling inside.
It’s pretty simple, when we work against nature and towards control- we create chaos and trauma. The lesson is to move and take action from our intuition, and allow all elements of our being (mind, body, spirit) to blend together in harmony.
It is only then that ease and surrender can create peace and silence.
Q7 :: When feeling disconnected, how do you like to reconnect?
When I feel disconnected, I approach the experience in the same way that I do when I feel challenged. I feel like when get disconnected and feel lost when we’ve spent time doing too many things outside of ourselves and for others, and we’ve ignored our intuition. Despite witnessing gut reactions, we’ve forged ahead and followed others- as a result of fear (fear of rejection, fear of disappointment, fear of isolation).
So, the way to return to yourself is to do the things that make your soul shine. For me, it’s about the simple pleasures that come from silence, nourishment, nature and acts of love. I am so grateful for the community that I have created by following my heart and carving my own path- and one of the benefits of this is that the connections that I have created are around truth, love and intuition.
Sometimes, it’s as simple as connected with a loved one and sharing your experiences in that moment. When you allow yourself to speak in truth and share your fears and anxieties- you release them and allow other energy to seep in.
We are complex and diverse creatures and there isn’t always going to be one way to manage or recover from something. We change, we evolve and with that it is important to stay in touch with yourself and continue to learn what brings light into your life. Whether it’s friendship and connection, physical touch, nature, animals, food, movement or meditation (all of which have been my ways through the years)- it is important that you know when to take a step back and offer yourself love in any and every form possible. That is surrender. That is ease.
To find out more about Chloe, check out her latest book ‘Living in Light’ - a story fuelled by the belly, told from the heart. An emotional journey of a struggle with eating disorders and anxiety while learning to embrace the truth. With 50 holistic recipes, it reads like a novel, functions like a cookbook — an essential read for anyone learning to build a healthy relationship with food, nutritionists and holistic soul-searchers. Available for digital download now.