Resistance, tensing up, saying “no” to what is or “no” to what is unfolding in the present moment. We do it all the time when we don’t like, can’t deal or don’t want to face what is happening now. I’m sure you know what I mean.
Sometimes we don’t know we are resisting but checking in with the body can reveal that tension is building. I guarantee it is playing out somewhere in your body. Is the jaw or shoulders tight or painful? How about your abdominal muscles or low back? These are some very popular places where the body holds or braces itself against something undesirable.
We are taught that feeling good is more desirable than feeling bad but lets face it that isn’t how life works. Everything will come at you; the good, the bad and the ugly and our job is to stay as clear as we can in the midst of it all.
It’s good to keep in mind that resistance doesn’t actually do anything in the world. It doesn’t actually stop anything from happening. What it does do is cause suffering. The present moment will persist whether or not we resist it or flow with it.
I love the spiritual teacher Michael Singer who wrote the book The Untethered Soul. In it he says that you can become adept at noticing when the process of resistance kicks in. He says, when you feel the body tense up make a conscious attempt to relax it. Take a breath and let go and allow all the feelings to move through you. When you do this the energy doesn’t build up in the body and cause physical or emotional suffering. When you allow it you express it and feel it fully. Then when it’s done it’s done instead of adding to the accumulated energy you are releasing it.
Here is a quote from the The Untethered Soul:
“The Stuff that holds you down periodically rears its head. When it does, let it go. You simply permit the pain to come up into your heart and pass through. If you do that, it will pass. If you are sincerely seeing truth, you’ll let go every time. This is the beginning and the end of the entire path – you surrender yourself to the process of emptying yourself. When you work with this, you start to learn the subtler laws of the process of letting go.”
The part that takes some practice is noticing when you are beginning to resist because often we are caught in habitual behavior and initially it’s easy to miss. Gradually you begin the process of freeing yourself and after a while you’ll notice that the body isn’t holding in the same old ways.
What isn’t talked about a lot is that our accumulated baggage can weigh us down so much that we can’t see the world as it is, rather, we see the world as we are. This can be a problem when life throws you a curve ball or tests come your way. When you are consciously letting go you will just feel better in every way. Just a small bonus for all your time and attention!
The old saying what you resists persists should really say what you resist causes suffering in your body and mind…but it doesn’t have to!