What You Resist, Persists
Next week, I depart for a 10 day, silent mediation retreat in the desert.
While I’ve long dreamt about signing up for this kind of experience, taking me fully off the grid to double down on my meditation practice and personal growth, the talk, as it turns out, feels very different than the action. Facing down the barrel of next week's trip has kicked all my inner resistance into high gear: “How can you possibly step away from your work,” my inner resistance whines, “you were crazy to sign up for this and you’re probably going to hate every moment.”
Most of us know what it is like to listen to this voice. Inner resistance shows up to prevent us from moving forward. Triggered by moments when we feel vulnerable, this voice trips a series of limiting believes that define our sense of self and the way we think the world ought to operate. If you have been sick this season, or spent more than your fair share with challenging family members, or already found yourself slipping on New Years resolutions, you have likely heard your resistance spew a series of should's and can'ts and finger pointing rants that signal the things/places/people we cannot accept.
We all have places inside us we will not go. But what we know is that the things we run from are the things that control our lives. What you resist, persists. And what if the voice of inner resistance could be seen as a gift that guides us to the places we’re ready to examine, to let go of the stories that control us? Leaving the doctor's office this afternoon, I am reminded once again that resistance inside ourselves beckons towards the work to be done. To acknowledge it without judgment, struggle or avoidance is the first step towards freedom and spacious acceptance. It is so easy to blame external circumstances outside ourselves for our pain and discomfort, much harder to move into taking responsibility for our own experience (be it the overpriced medical bill or the "why me" attitude towards this season's flu).
Being free from resistance does not mean you are a doormat.
You can - and absolutely should - say no, set boundaries and speak up to express your deep resonant inner truth. But all of this can be done free from inner resistance (dissonance, angst, anger, irritation, blame). Resistance then becomes a sign post and alert system that helps you to slow down, examine, uncover and release those early definitions that says “life must happen this way”. In this way, resistance becomes our great ally in the project of self discovery and love.
Additionally, with a lack of inner resistance comes great external power. When thoughts, intentions, feelings and actions are all in alignment, your inner wisdom can guide you, and the quiet yes of acceptance grows louder as external change comes effortlessly and swiftly.
Persistence helps to support this effort: In refusing to give up, returning to your practice of exploration time and time again, you prove to yourself the depth of your commitment to change. Constancy means you will revisit your goals and dreams and your practice, no matter how many times you get knocked off. When resistance is the thing that persists - old habits, attitudes and thoughts - it's time to befriend it as a guide signaling a greater shift on the horizon.
As I prepare to enter ten days of undisturbed mental solitude, my commitment to myself is one of gentle curiosity. I know that my thoughts and old patterns do not define me, and they are welcome to come with me on my journey, lighting the way. I will persist in my practice of befriending resistance day after day, moment after moment, as my teacher, no matter what comes, inching my way towards freedom.
Sending you also the courage to resist and persist in your life.