Is resistance preventing you from enjoying the present?
For those of you who don’t know, I practice a type of yoga called ashtanga yoga. It’s a set series of postures in a specific order, so that every time you practice, you work on the same postures. It’s a very rigorous, challenging practice, and there’s always something to work on. The thing I love about practicing a set series is that, because the postures stay the same, I’m able to notice the changes in myself from day-to-day. Sometimes it’s a physical change in relation to energy levels or tightness of muscles, but more often than not, it’s a mental change. Some days my mind is relaxed, and it allows me to go through my practice with very little resistance, but other times my mind fights the process, refusing to focus on what I’m engaged in, or bringing worries into the room.
Resistance is one the biggest mental factors i’ve noticed lately. Some days, my mind fights the process. There are certain postures that I dread doing, finding small distractions to procrastinate actually doing them. The interesting part is that because it’s a series, I know I’m going to engage in every posture. Each one is inevitable, but for some reason my mind chooses to fight the process. On the rare days when my mind is open, and there’s no resistance towards any of the yoga practice, I can fly through each posture with joy and contentment. It feels easier, and emotionally lighter.
This has gotten me thinking about how else I resist the inevitable, and how much it detracts from the experience. Now, I realize how often I resist the inevitable in all areas of my life, and try to relax into the moment. Some ways’s I’ve noticed that I fight the inevitable are as follows: hitting the snooze button in the morning, showing up late to appointments or obligations, procrastinating household chores, putting off, or stressing over bills, prolonging workouts or exercises, and browsing social media when there’s something important to get done. The thing is that when something is inevitable, or it’s already happening, there’s truly no logical reason to resist it. In fact, it would make more sense, since it is inevitable, to try to enjoy it. The mind, however, loves to fight, and judge, and tell us why things aren’t fair, or how they “should” be which only detracts from our ability to truly experience whatever it is that we’re experiencing, and from enjoying the process.
So, how do we stop resisting the inevitable?
Observe. We can’t change what we aren’t aware of. I believe awareness is always the first step in making any change. For the next week or two, simply try to become aware of all the ways you resist the inevitable.
Change your story. Our resistance is usually related to a story we are telling ourselves about the circumstance. For example, with the yoga postures I tend to resist, there are often stories around how that posture is worse than the others, how I can’t wait for it to be over, how uncomfortable it is for my body, how tired I am in that moment, etc. Observe the story, and then figure out how to change it. I have a saying when I’m attempting something difficult “no big deal” and when I say that to myself I can feel a slight relaxing. Change the story that you’re telling yourself. It might be a mini pep-talk. It might be about having a mantra that you say in your mind like “no big deal”, the point is to catch yourself, examine the story driving your resistance and then change that story. See how your body responds. I usually feel a slight relaxing when I am able to change the story. It might just be about reminding yourself not to resist the inevitable. Find a new story that works for you.
Repeat. Repeat this over and over and over again. The more you catch yourself resisting the inevitable and gently redirect your brain to a better story, the easier it will become. The quicker you’ll catch yourself resisting, and the quicker you’ll get at reseting your mind in the future. Practice is key here. Don’t expect to stop resisting all together. It’s the nature of the mind to judge and chatter, and resist the inevitable. It’s our job to catch the mind when it’s being naughty and redirect it to do what we want it to do so expect this to be a lifelong practice.
I promise you will be blown away at all the times you find your mind resisting the moment. The good news is that the more your mind resists the inevitable, the bigger an impact this practice will have on your life!