The Surrender Experiment Summary and Review

by Michael A. Singer
  Has The Surrender Experiment by Michael A. Singer been sitting on your reading list? Pick up the key ideas in the book with this quick summary. In all honesty: how much useless and annoying “noise” goes rattling through your mind on a daily basis? Would you mute this noise if you could? You actually can! The world around us can be very loud and our minds can easily become polluted by this incessant background noise. We get caught up in the everyday stress and routines and we are influenced by the external ideas of how life should be lived. But did you ever consider surrendering to life and simply letting go? If you didn’t, now is the time! Your life might become much more pleasant. Throughout his book, The Surrender Experiment, Michael A. Singer teaches us how to surrender to the natural flow of life. He draws inspiration from his own experiences and by sharing his story with us, he makes us feel ready to make a change and to start our journey towards success and spirituality. From Michael A. Singer’s book, you’ll learn:
  • how to stop the pointless noise;
  • how to surrender to spirituality and to life in order to become more successful; and
  • how a series of random events helped the author come to terms with spirituality.

THE SURRENDER EXPERIMENT CHAPTER #1: One of the main goals of spirituality is learning how to quiet the mind.

You know how you can sometimes feel extremely award if you are in the middle of a conversation and you run out of things to say? Your palms become sweaty, you start to search your mind for new ideas and conversation topics, all while worrying about what people might think of you. Well, this situation is common and there is nothing to worry about. When something like this happens, you might have the opportunity to awaken spiritually! These uncomfortable situations are useful, as they allow you to analyze your anxiety and you can reflect on your self or consciousness. In fact, it was a similar situation that led the author to have his first interaction with spirituality. Instead of getting overwhelmed by the embarrassing situation, he chose to analyze his thought processes and find a good way to continue the discussion. Slowly, he understood that his conscious mind and his anxious one were two separate entities, as the first can observe the latter. But how can we prevent our anxious minds from distracting us? A very effective way is by practicing meditation. When the chatter and noise in the author’s mind were getting bothersome, he started to explore the topic of Zen meditation. Zen meditation is a practice that involves focusing on your breath while sitting in a quiet spot, and repeating the sound “Mu” in your mind. With a bit of effort, Zen meditation can quiet an anxious mind and can lead to a sensation of complete silence. While he was camping in nature with his friends, the author decided to continue practicing on his meditation techniques. He found a nice, quiet spot where he could meditate and he focused on his spiritual awakening. As he was drifting in and out of his meditative state, he was also listening to a loud voice that was telling him to look beyond himself. Eventually, Singer managed to achieve deep meditation and complete relaxation and his awareness of self completely vanished.

THE SURRENDER EXPERIMENT CHAPTER #2: You can calm your mind by surrendering to the life flow.

When you wake up and look out the window and you see that the weather is awful, you might ask yourself “Why are these weather changes affecting me so much?” or “Why is it always raining when I plan a barbecue?” Well, these feelings of anxiety that are generated by bad weather can be blamed on your resistance. People who have anxious minds will often rail against things that they can’t change and more often than not, they are easily affected by many other things. So why do we get so irritated or nervous about things that we can’t control? The answer is simple - it’s because of our personal preferences. For example, when the author was encouraged by one of his peers to take his final exams and to finish his economics degree, he put up quite a lot of resistance. The author did not want to finish his course, so he put up a fight. He also found refuge in meditation. But the author made a good observation, his resistance was making him nervous and agitated. He was desperately trying to find excuses not to take the exams and was constantly trying to justify his actions. So how did Singer quiet his anxious mind? He found solace in spirituality and he allowed the flow of life to take charge of his thoughts. He understood that, in order to become less stressed, he had to learn how to live with the opportunities and challenges that life was putting in his path. After deciding to ride the wave instead of swimming against it, Singer convinced himself to make an effort and take his final exams. However, he was worried about one exam in particular as he felt that he was ill-prepared for it. As a last resort, just before the exam he opened his public finance textbook to a random page and carefully read the contents. He repeated this process three times. Much to his surprise, the exams consisted of six questions, of which he had to answer three in order to pass. Three of those questions referred exactly to the pages that he had previously read.
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THE SURRENDER EXPERIMENT CHAPTER #3: Solitude is less noble than service.

Can you think of a time when a close friend asked you to take care of their dog while they were away and you refused because you felt that it was too much of a commitment? Well, maybe next time you should offer to help. Why? The author learned from personal experience that offering your services is a much more satisfying experience than resisting. This attitude can make a real difference and it helped the author be less of a hermit and more of a spiritual leader. When a woman named Sandy asked Singer if he would let her take part in her meditation sessions and pitch a tent in his backyard, he said yes. Saying yes to Sandy was a great choice as it turned him home into a more spiritual space. Soon enough, Sandy brought her friends to the author’s backyard and they all attended the meditation sessions. Later on, they even built a meditation temple next to his house. After this, it wasn’t long until the author started to visit India and learn from more experienced spiritual masters. Another request that the author chose to accept was to go to an interview for an economics teacher position tat a community college. He did not have a particular interest in this job, but the meeting with the program director was arranged by a friend of his and refusing would have been rude. During the interview, Singer learned that he would really enjoy teaching students about meditation and relaxation techniques, instead of economics. Surprisingly, the program director liked the idea and accepted his proposal. Giving in to challenges and breaking free from his comfort zone helped the author do unexpected things. For instance, when the author’s neighbor moved to another city, he asked Singer whether he would like to visit his pen pal Jerry occasionally. Jerry was doing jail time at a high-security prison, so Singer was hesitant at first. But, because he had promised himself that he would be open to anything, he accepted to go see Jerry. Upon meeting the young inmate, the author learned that he was also interested in meditation. As a result, he decided to organize a small meditation group with six fellow inmates and meet with them on a weekly basis.

THE SURRENDER EXPERIMENT CHAPTER #4: Building a successful business can be easier if you follow the flow of life.

More often than not, people associate spirituality and meditation to those who want to have no interest in the material world. But as the author found out, spirituality theories can help a business person achieve their goals just as much as they help monks and gurus In truth, the author managed to build his first successful venture by aligning his life with his spiritual principles. It all began when the author arrived at his home one day and to his surprise, the local sheriff was already there waiting for him. Somewhat shocked, he immediately thought that he had done something wrong. But the sheriff just wanted to tell him that he really liked the temple that he and his fellow meditation practitioners had built. The sheriff then asked Singer whether he would like to build something for his house. Well, since the author had promised that he would take up any challenges, he accepted and suddenly became a carpenter. As he continued to accept to help people with everything they needed, his business was becoming more and more successful. The first thing that the author observed was that it was quite easy to find new clients. Because the sheriff was so pleased with his work, he spread the word about Singer’s business throughout the community and soon enough, the author was working on garages, was installing fireplaces, and adding porches to country houses. But because he didn’t have enough capital, he had to take a loan for his expanding business, which was now called Built with Love. Unfortunately, his request was rejected by every bank because the Singer had limited funds and no prior experience in constructions. But, the author didn’t lose hope, so he asked one last bank. When the branch president of this bank, Jim Owens, saw Singer’s request, he took a personal interest in his business and decided to drive out and see the temple with his own eyes. He liked what he saw so he decided to give Singer the loan. Things came full circle when the man who had previously helped him, Jim Owens quit his job at the bank because he wanted to open a video store. He was the one who needed a loan this time and Singer was there to help him.

THE SURRENDER EXPERIMENT CHAPTER #5: Whether it’s carpentry, plumbing, or meditation, life helps you do what you like.

It seems unbelievable that less than 40 years ago, computers seemed like a futuristic novelty. When Singer first saw in a shop window a plastic computer keyboard connected to a 12-inch TV screen labeled TRS-80-COMPUTER, he wasn’t even sure what he was looking at. However, he felt that this weird contraption might be useful so, he followed his gut and he bought it. By taking a risk, he entered the fascinating world of computers and software for the first time. As he started to learn how to use the computer, the author’s life was once again forcing him to walk a new path. Instantly fascinated with the machine, Singer began experimenting with computer programming. Learning this new language was as relaxing as meditation and he was learning so fast that he was soon able to create a computerized accounting system that would help him manage his carpentry business. The author’s new and unexpected talent was quickly acknowledged by the universe, which is to be expected when one surrenders completely to life. People started to learn about his new skills and the author was quickly overwhelmed with requests for software programming. In addition to building his own software, he also began selling custom-made software for his numerous customers. Shortly after he began to sell software, he received to phone calls from different clients who needed the same thing - medical billing software. People needed this new software because the one that was already available was proving to be ineffective, so Singer knew what he had to do. His next mission was to create a functional software system designed specifically for medical practices. Finally, when the software was ready, the author received yet another amazing opportunity. Singer was now working alongside a team, and as soon as they managed to complete the numerous templates for the medical billing software, his phone rang again. This time it was the man who was in charge of System Plus, the company that was distributing the accounting software that he had built a while back. They now needed a similar solution for medical billing.

THE SURRENDER EXPERIMENT CHAPTER #6: The right opportunities and the right people will come to you if you surrender the flow of life.

How awesome would it be if every time you had a problem, you would receive a phone call with the solution that you needed? Well, in truth, this happens quite often as life gives us exactly what we need. The only thing we need to do is to embrace the solutions that we are offered. In the author’s case, something similar happened when he had to deal with an extremely demanding customer. He had just started his business, and this client was imposing very tight deadlines and requesting a lot of changes. A lot of people would have given up, but the author chose to power through and he received $35,000 for his work. What really made it all worth it was that about a week later, he received a phone call that informed him that his previous client is moving and is willing to sell the construction to the author for $37,000. Some time passed and the author was informed by the zoning inspector that his land couldn’t be used for commercial purposes. Things took a more unpleasant turn when the city decided to build a waste dump right next to the author’s community temple. People protested against the city’s plans for the waste plant, and the construction was eventually canceled. Consequently, the wasteland parcel came up for sale and it was perfect as a business location. The author purchased the land and he finally had a perfect place for his commercial ventures. But life doesn’t just offer us great opportunities, but it also presents to us amazing people. Singer admits that he would never have been so successful if it weren’t for them. Whether he needed a talented software designer when he was working on his software projects, or a pilot to fly him across the country to meet potential clients, is grateful for finding people who were willing to help him whenever he needed it.

THE SURRENDER EXPERIMENT CHAPTER #7: Extreme success can also result from continued surrendering.

If you were suddenly offered a $300 million company, what would you do? Would you be so fascinated by the cash that you’d blindly take on a huge responsibility? The truth is, achieving massive success also requires getting used to the idea that you might have to work very hard to maintain it. Throughout the 1980s, as computers became more common in medical practices, the author realized that it was time for the paper billing to be replaced by electronic billing. He knew that in order to achieve this, he would have to put in a lot of work, so he sought the help of Larry Horwitz, who analyzed no less than 250 insurance specification books and stacked them all into one great computer program called Medical Manager. Thanks to Horwitz, Singer’s idea became one of the most successful computer software of its time. Right after he finished his work on Medical Manager, Singer was contacted by one of the biggest Amerian insurance providers, Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield. The insurance company was looking for a management system that will help with the digitization of their medical practices. Medical Manager was so effective that other regional branches of the insurance company started to use it, so the author was soon forced to expand his business. However, when it comes to success, you need to know when to stop. With the author now managing a flourishing company, he proposed a plan that would bring all Medical Manager dealers together into one company. This idea required a lot of investment and the majority of investors thought that the new company should have ownership rights of all the previous work that the author had done. What was the author’s response? He understood that, although he didn’t like the idea, he had to let go of his creation for the greater good. Consequently, after the company had been created, he became a public company CEO.

THE SURRENDER EXPERIMENT CHAPTER #8: Accepting extreme adversity is also a part of surrendering to life.

When life gives you lemons, or in the author’s case, a million-dollar business, wonderful partners, and a beautiful house, making lemonade is easy. But what happens if instead, life gives you a prison sentence? Sometimes things can get tough, so it’s important not to give up on your principles and to accept the situation. The author’s office was raided by the FBI in 2003, he was placed under suspicion of fraud and his assets confiscated.  The company knew about a problematic employee who was accepting bribes from the dealers that he brought in, and they were keeping an eye on him. Unfortunately, because he knew he was in trouble, the employee contacted the FBI and tried to put the blame on Singer. For most people, this incident could have been a crippling source of anxiety and stress, but as the author knew how to surrender to life, he came to terms with the situation and kept his calm. When things get tough, we need to remember that accepting the situation is not the same thing as giving up. It actually means fighting back, but with calm and with patience. And that is exactly what Singer did. He was fully aware, though, that defending the company would be a very difficult task so he hired more than thirty attorneys. Despite his strong defense, he was still forced to give up on his position as CEO. Eventually, the case against him unraveled, and because the government couldn’t find any evidence against him, all the charges were dropped. But the whole process took more than five years. However, even setbacks such as this one can have positive outcomes. This five-year ordeal enabled the author to find the time to write The Untethered Soul, a book which went on to become a New York Times bestseller.


What is the key message of Michael A. Singer’s The Surrender Experiment? Instead of stressing over what we should do with our lives, the author teaches us how to open our minds and souls towards new opportunities. By surrendering to life, by listening to the people around us, and by learning how to say yes, we can achieve great things. We can also find amazing people to work with and people who need our unique talents and services. Sometimes, the people who ask for our help are signs from the universe and might help us become happier and more satisfied. Valuable advice: Learn how to yes. In order for your life to become happier, you need to learn how to say yes to people who ask you for help. Even if you are not a cat lover, spending a few days with your friend’s furry companion might turn out to be an amazing experience. What to read next: Michael A. Singer’s Untethered Soul  The Untethered Soul is a book written by the author while he was going through a very tough time. He writes about our consciousness, our feelings, and the human mind in general. By drawing inspiration from different spiritual practices, this book teaches us how to be in touch with ourselves, how to navigate our minds, and how to achieve enlightenment.  
Suggested further reading: Find more great ideas like those contained in this summary in this article we wrote on Anxiety mouse