Resistance Is Futile
As you probably already realize, I tend to write many of these articles about things that I myself am working on or experiencing. For me, my 60’s have been all about healing patterns that I established during my first ten years of life. These patterns were effective coping strategies back then, given my childhood circumstances, but now they often bring me suffering. As we age, the effects of such lifelong coping strategies tend to come home to roost and make themselves known as physical disease. Most of us respond by taking another pill. I suggest we start by looking inward instead.
One pattern that I’m working on now is a tendency to resist what is. For me, it can take the form of “free floating anxiety” — a kind of perpetual tone of mental and bodily vigilance, consciously or subconsciously bracing for possible disaster. Even when my rational mind knows that all is well, my unconscious or what Huna calls my “Basic Self” tends to remain just a little bit tense. (I’ve noticed that vacations are some of the few times I can truly let go.) Recently this tendency has caught up with me in the form of high blood pressure. Truthfully, I’m resisting acknowledging that too! The bottom line is, lifelong patterns can be extremely hard to release, even when we are aware of them.
Of course, everyone resists in their own unique way. Some people might always feel just a bit angry, impatient, or annoyed. Others are fearful and clingy. I know someone who copes by constantly looking for a “magic bullet” provided by an authority that will make things okay. Some folks simply “check out” and take drugs, alcohol, go shopping, eat too much, or get lost on the internet or in video games. Others just sit or lie in depression.
So what are we so busy resisting? What are you resisting? It might be the state of the world — politics, climate change, the economy. It might be an unfulfilling job or difficult relationship. For many, it’s sickness or aging. Or it might just be the noisy annoying neighbor next door.
Now, I’m not suggesting that you do nothing about whatever you are resisting. But being in a state of resistance (however it manifests) does not help anyone or anything. As the wise old adage goes, “What you resist persists.”
So how to alleviate this suffering?
I’m reminded of my kids’ fourth grade teacher, Aviv. This guy was amazing — a true Zen master. There were a few troubled kids in one of my son’s classes; the usual variety — bullies, ADHD kids, etc. While most teachers managed the class by yelling or by using “bribery” to get the kids to behave, Aviv was always in a perpetual state of quiet and gentle calm. Just his presence made every child relax and settle. It had the same effect on parents too! Aviv had no problem at all getting the class to behave, and the children loved him and learned easily. He never resisted what was going on in the class. He just quietly talked to a child. Somehow it worked.
I’m also reminded of the ideology of Aikido, a martial art that does not strike back at an opponent, but instead simply deflects the energy of an attacker.
So how can we be Aviv-like Zen masters in our own lives? I guess the first step is to notice that you are resisting something. Talk to your Basic Self about it — your inner emotional and often more child-like self. Acknowledge what’s bothering you and feel it. Write it down. Say it out loud. Don’t suppress these feelings (which will just tend to make them come out in other ways). Then use a variety of techniques to help loosen up and let whatever it is go, bit by bit.
Of course, there’s the old stand by: daily meditation. But a variety of other tools are out there too. They include: the Sedona Method; Byron Katie’s teaching (for example, her book Loving What Is); and self-compassion and self-love methods like Louise Hay’s mirror work or self-soothing affirmations and actions (for example, check out books by Kristin Neff). I also find that certain books help me to relax and trust, like the books by Anita Moorjani about her near death experience, the Trust Frequency by Cameron-Bailey and Baxter-Marlowe, and various New Thought writings, like those by Neville Goddard.
However you go about it, letting go of resistance to what is can help you be healthier and happier and provide an easier and more elegant path to what you want. And it will also enable you to better serve the world. The sage Lao Tsu gave us many wise words about this topic:
“By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try, the world is beyond the winning.”
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”
“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”
“Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself?”
“To a mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.”