Welcome to off topic Thursday. Let’s talk about resistance and non-resistance and how those may appear in our lives in subtle forms. Sometimes subtle resistance to change can sabotage our best intentions or make change less fun. I have been noticing some subtle resistance to what is manifesting in my life these days. It is not that what is showing up is bad. It is just that I have some attachment to my life looking a little different than how it is going.
The definition of resistance is the refusal to accept or comply with something. While the dictionary goes on to say that resistance can manifest as an attempt to prevent something by action or argument, I would not consider all attempts to prevent something resistance. For instance, many people seek to change governmental policies by protesting and contacting their representatives. This is just being proactive. In my book, resistance would be refusing to obey a law rather than acting to get the law changed. Resistance comes into play when we are chaffing against something that is. I think of it as the energy that gets engaged when we dislike, hate, or judge what is when that thing cannot be changed – like hating a rainy day.
Non-resistance is accepting what is. It does not imply to refrain from taking action. If it rains on our parade, resistance would be putting energy into the story of how horrible that is and how devastating that is. Non-resistance accepts the situation and moves on. Non-resistance could cancel the parade, postpone the parade or move the parade inside. Non-resistance doesn’t imply non-action.
Someone posed the question, “Am I being too lax” during a meditation class. The teacher, after reflection, answered the student, “If you are asking the question, ‘Am I being too lax’, then you need to be more gentle with yourself.”
As soon as the woman asked the question, I was pondering how I would have answered. The first thing that popped into my mind, is that if you think you are being too lax, then you are. I was surprised to hear the teacher’s response. I immediately recognized the truth in her statement. She was responding to the judgment inherent in the way the question was worded. She was noticing the student may have been resistant to her slow progress and instead of accepting what was, was criticizing her efforts.
The student had asked about being “lax”, which means not sufficiently strict, severe, or careful. In my culture the term “lax” typically has derogative connotations. It could also be used to mean lazy, which means unwilling to work or use energy. Another term that is considered derogative.
It is possible the student was asking if they needed to be doing more, but it is also possible that the student wanted to know if they were enough or if their best efforts were enough. Without knowing the student and understanding what they were really asking, the question would be a difficult one to answer.
My immediate response, that is believing the student was indeed being too lax, was based on the fact that one of the five major obstacles to spiritual practice is simply “not wanting to do it”. This is often translated as laziness. It could also be called being lackadaisical. It is extremely common and fairly universal. In fact, my bias is that very few people are really doing enough practice. However, most people know when they are not doing enough and would not ask the question “Am I being too lax?”
People are distracted by many things that are not essential for happiness and peace. Many people go through life following their habitual ways without being conscious of what else is possible and what else they could choose.
I also recognize even though many of us are not practicing enough to get good results, many of us are not capable of more. For instance, when I am meditating, it often seems like I am just being lazy about not staying focused on my object. I seem to easily drift off. Yet, when I consciously apply myself and “redouble” my efforts, I just as easily drift off. I might be the woman, who asks, “Am I exerting too little effort?” when clearly I am working at capacity, but I am resistant to accepting my capacity to concentrate.
This year I have been focused on being really present during my Happy Body exercises and other routine chores I do during the day. It amazes me how easily I am distracted. I really have very poor control of my mind right now, despite effort. My resistance to that manifests as me complaining about my control and being disappointed in my inability to focus where I choose.
Another area I am sensing some resistance is in my lifestyle choices. About ten years ago I decided that I wanted to simplify my life and create more freedom. After years of having gardens and lifestock I desired to create a more urban lifestyle. I dreamt of getting rid of the car, walking or biking everywhere and not being chained to animals and a garden that needed my constant attention. I could imagine a simple life in the city and renting a van for excursions into nature or long back packing trips. A simpler lifestyle would allow me to be more in the moment, I thought. The complexity of my life kept me always planning and focused on what I needed to do for the future.
Despite my efforts to create this type of lifestyle I have been thwarted at every turn. The natural energy flow of my life has lead me back to a property I lived on 25 years ago with tons of house fixing projects, an orchard to maintain and a mule and a horse. I have resistance too this, yet it seems to be what the universe keeps giving me. What am I choosing that creates this? Am I addicted to planning? Am I addicted to never being finished with my projects? Is the constant flow of ideas what continues to create a life landscape where ideas pop up right and left?
Some people accumulate material objects without realizing how we don’t own our possessions, instead they own us. I am acutely aware how each object occupies a place in my mind stream and tether’s me to it. The horses demand my attention each day and I make plans around them. The house requires emergency repairs, but also suggests improvements to me. Today, as I was cleaning out a cabinet to sell, I was faced with a candle holder, oil lamps and candles. They own part of my mind and part of my physical space. Since we have frequent power outages, I packed them away to use in emergency. Not sure where I will put them yet. They are in a box, but still homeless. I will need to figure out a home for them. I have a little resistance. I wish they weren’t in my life. And I could just get rid of them, yet I don’t.
I have cleared out my life before. Moved everything into an 10X8 storage space and moved to the desert where I lived in someone else’s trailer. Yet, even faster than I emptied my life of things, new things have come to fill their spaces.
Do you have things you resist getting rid of, but feel burdened by. Do you have chores you resist doing? This is the subtle resistance I am talking about. We have made a certain choice, but that choice is a mixed bag and we resist part of it.
At one point, I actively resisted my tendency to accumulate projects and animals. I was able to eliminate many things and keep things out of my life for a while. However, some of my source of resistance to accumulating things was based on a judgment of the limitations that things create and a conclusion that it was not serving me ultimately. Now, I am entertaining that my resistance is more harmful to me than following the energy that tends to accumulate. I am wondering if I can move beyond the need to resist accumulation or resist non-accumulation. What am I now capable to being that is beyond resistance?
Here are some more questions for you to be:
- What would it take to be completely in the moment?
- What would it take to be free regardless of apparent ownership of so many things?
- How can I be accepting of what is?
- What energy, space, and consciousness can me and my body be to be out of control?
- What am I hanging on to?
- What belief do I hold that creates my resistance?
- What conclusion have I come to that keeps me in bondage and if I let go of it I would be able to live in ease?
- Where am I judging myself?
- What have I decided is so important that I resist following the natural flow?
- What have I decided is so important that I refuse to let go of it?
- What would it take to let go of everything in each moment?
- What would it take to recognize when I can change things and when I cannot?
- What am I denying or pretending not to know about my resistance?
- What is beyond this?
- If I only have this moment, what would I choose?
- In this moment, what can I create?
- What can I choose today that will create the most ease and peace and joy in my life right away?
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Cheery Monday by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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