Resistance is futile

Don’t you just love that feeling you get when you’ve spent time meditating? You get an aura of calmness, clarity and your stress levels are lower. My favourite app is Headspace — I use it at least once a day (I love Andy’s voice). Until recently. For the last two weeks, I’ve been actively avoiding it. After finishing the series on Sleep, I decided to move on to Acceptance. And I hate it. I’ve even reduced my meditation time from 20 mins to 10 mins, just so I can finish it quickly and move onto another series. Something easy, like the Stress pack (I love that one).

I’ve been meditating with Headspace since 2014, and recently decided to work my way through all the Headspace packs. Some are easier than others, but this Acceptance series isn’t giving me a warm fuzzy feeling. It’s making me uncomfortable. I’m sitting there with my eyes closed concentrating on my breathing, then out of the blue Andy asks ‘What or who are you feeling resistance against?’ My first thoughts —” I don’t want to think about that. I want to think about my breathing, and calmness, and I want blue sky. This is supposed to be about Acceptance, not resistance.”

But I decided to stop for a minute and just see if there was anything I was resisting. Couldn’t be much, surely? But there was. It’s all the things I don’t like, I don’t want to think about, or I don’t have time for. It’s big things like physical pain, conflict and family issues — best to push them as far away as possible — too distressing. But it’s also little things, that I think I should be doing, like eating more protein & less sugar, exercising more, spending time away from technology, saving for a house, trying to keep in touch with my extended family — and one day I’ll do those things, I’ll get a plan in place, but I don’t have time for that now, so I’ll just push that all away too.

That’s Resistance and I have it in abundance.

And now I’ve stopped to look at it. Well this is uncomfortable. Come on Andy, time must be up, let’s move on, is it time to open my eyes yet? This pack should have come with a warning “This one’s tougher than the others, it’s going to make you think”.

Despite the fact that I want to stop the meditation right there, I don’t. I realise that resistance is producing tension inside my mind & my body. And I’d like to get rid of that. How do I make it go away? Andy’s suggestion — stop pushing. Look at it, accept it. Just breathe. And then he says:

Notice what you resist in others. This gives us a good indication of what we resist in our own minds.

As I thought about it, that made sense.

For instance, I actively resist being around specific people who can’t control their emotions, especially those who seem to live life just on the edge of anger. I find it very unsettling, and feel like I need to be on high alert, ready to distract them, or divert the anger away. And from what Andy said, I can see that I also resist being angry. I don’t want to appear out of control. Plus strong emotions can easily trigger a migraine. I don’t want that. But resisting it means I’m holding tension in my body & mind & how can that be good for me? Realistically anger can’t be resisted or contained for ever.

So I sit here with my eyes closed trying to just breathe through this resistance that’s been sitting there hidden under the surface. It feels heavy, like it’s made of concrete — am I supposed to just stare at it and hope it gets smaller somehow? But I keep breathing and just look at it without judgement, then gradually I feel like this chunk of concrete softens. I almost think I’ve imagined it, it’s so slight. But maybe it’s not a chunk of concrete, maybe a better analogy is something that can dissolve over time — limestone, for instance.

The Arch, Port Campbell, made of limestone, is slowly dissolving into the sea. (Source)

I breathe some more & feel the resistance continue to soften, and then the meditation ends (hallelujah). I open my eyes and see the final quote on the app:

If you can calmly observe your resistance and give it some space, then it begins to ease up.

And it did.

But, I think it’s going to take some time. I may have to start this Acceptance pack again.

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