The Dance of Surrender

Group size:  5-40

Purpose:  Embody the lesson of surrender while exploring the concept of resistance.

Props Needed:  None

Activity Preparation:  None

Time needed

  • Directions: 5-10 minutes
  • Activity: 20 minutes
  • Debrief: 15 minutes

Set Up:  None

Activity Directions:

  • Have group members pair up with someone of approximate height
  • There will be 2 rounds. Each with their own instructions.
  • It is helpful for the facilitator to go first demonstrating how to “resist” the push. This clues the group in to resist with their shoulders which will usually cause them to fall back.

Safety: Say a word about safety so participants don't hurt themselves by overly enthusiastic pushing

Facilitator script: “Gather round everyone. First pick a partner of similar height. (once pairs are in place continue with instructions)

Round 1

Now that you are in your pairs determine who is partner A and who is partner B. Face each other and stand about 1 foot apart. Partner A is going to attempt to push partner B back using his hands and not moving his feet. Partner B is going to make an attempt at resisting partner A’s push without falling backwards. Watch Me before trying it.

(Facilitator demonstrates with a partner. Facilitator’s partner attempts to push facilitator back facilitator resists and tightens her shoulders and arms go forward trying to prevent the force. Consequently facilitator takes a step backwards due to the force pushing her off balance)

Remember the goal is not to hurt your partner; nothing is worth getting hurt over. We are simply attempting to make your partner take a step backwards not push them through the wall.

Once Partner A has gone a couple of times switch roles so that Partner B is now trying to push back Partner A.


(Debrief round 1)

  • What was that like?
  • Did you step backwards?


Round 2

This time we are going to have the same task but adjust our strategy. Watch My shoulders and arms.

(Facilitator demonstrates with a partner. This time when facilitator’s partner attempts to push facilitator back facilitator relaxes her shoulders and arms go backwards absorbing the force. Consequently, facilitator arms go backwards but facilitator stays strong maintaining balance. This usually causes the other partner to lose his balance. Listen for the ooos and ahhhs)

What did you notice? (make sure participants understand the new strategy) Now each of you have a turn with this new strategy.



  • What was that like?
  • Did you step backwards?
  • What was the intention the first time?
  • What was the strategy? Was it effective?
  • What was the intention the second time?
  • How was this strategy more effective?
  • How did you feel the first time?
  • How did you feel the second time?


Recovery/Wellness Metaphor: Often when we encounter struggles our natural instincts are to resist and push back. This usually results in us becoming unbalanced. Sometimes when we fight fire with fire we get burned. However, if we can learn to truly surrender we are actually empowered. When we know who we are we can stand strong within our core. All of a sudden, we are no longer wrestling with life we are now dancing.

Role of Facilitator: Support participants in thinking of their own conceptions of surrender and resistance. Process how to apply these lessons to their recovery and lives.   

Variations: If you do not want each participant to try it you can select a partner and just demonstrate it to them.