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Not Resisting Resistance

--by Peter Russell (Dec 29, 2014)


The building where I used to run a meditation group was on the same street as a fire station; one could almost guarantee that sometime during the meditation a fire engine would come rushing past, sirens wailing. Not surprisingly, people would afterwards complain: “How could I meditate with that going on?”

How often have we felt something similar? There’s an unspoken assumption that the mind can only become quiet if the world around is quiet. We imagine the ideal meditation setting to be somewhere far from the madding crowd—a retreat deep in a forest, a peaceful chapel, or the quiet of one’s own bedroom, perhaps. It is much harder for the mind to settle down in a noisy environment. Or is it?

I suggested to the group that the next time a fire engine came blasting by they look within and explore whether the sound really was that disturbing? After the following meditation, a participant reported how the noise no longer seemed a problem; it was there, but it didn’t disturb her. The disturbance, she realized, came not from the sound itself, but from wishing it weren’t there.

When we accept things as they are, “go with the flow,” there is ease. This is our natural state of mind -- content and relaxed. Dis-content arises when we resist our experience. Our natural state of ease becomes veiled by a self-created discontent.
Thus, we can return to a more peaceful state of mind by letting go of our attachments as to how our experience ought to be and accept it as it is.

Upon hearing this, people often ask: Does this mean I should accept injustice and cruelty, the homeless sleeping on the streets, or the recalcitrant attitude of my partner? Of course not. There are numerous situations that we should not tolerate, and each, in our own way, will be called to do what we can to improve the world. “Accepting our experience as it is” means just that; accepting our experience in the moment. If we are feeling frustrated, angry, or indignant, accept that feeling. Don’t resist it, or wish it weren’t there; but let it in, become interested in how it feels.

Even more valuably, we can explore the resistance itself. It can be quite subtle, and not easily noticed at first. So I find it useful to simply pause and ask: “Is there any sense of resistance that I am not noticing?” And gently wait. I may then become aware of some resentment towards my experience, wishing it were different, or perhaps just a sense of tension or contraction in my being. Then rather than focusing on whatever I may have been resisting, I turn my attention to the resistance itself, opening to this aspect of “what is.”

Rather than dividing experience into two parts—the experience in the moment, and thoughts and judgments about that experience—any resistance is now included as part of the present moment. Not resisting the resistance, the veil of discontent dissolves, and I return to a more relaxed, easeful state of mind.

That is what is meant by a quiet mind. Not an empty mind. We are aware of the world just as before. Aware of sounds, sensations, thoughts and feelings. We are simply allowing our experience to be as it is. Not wishing for something different, not creating unnecessary discontent.

Peter Russell is a fellow of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, of The World Business Academy and of The Findhorn Foundation, and an Honorary Member of The Club of Budapest. At Cambridge University (UK), he studied mathematics and theoretical physics. Then, as he became increasingly fascinated by the mysteries of the human mind he changed to experimental psychology. Pursuing this interest, he traveled to India to study meditation and eastern philosophy, and on his return took up the first research post ever offered in Britain on the psychology of meditation. He has written several books in this area -- "The TM Technique," "The Upanishads," "The Brain Book," "The Global Brain Awakens," "The Creative Manager," "The Consciousness Revolution," "Waking Up in Time," and "From Science to God".

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19 Previous Reflections:

 
On Aug 16, 2017 asdsad wrote:

 



On Aug 16, 2017 asdsad wrote:

 



On Dec 30, 2014 AJ wrote:

 I often find myself resisting things/people I shouldn't. On the other hand, I resist, resisting habits/circumstances/stuff I should!  



On Dec 30, 2014 Peter wrote:

This is a great re-mind-er. I also find it helpful to come back to breath and body sensation. This is like my bedrock. This way I can accept whatever is actually going on within my body and my mind. This helps break the habit of resistance, which when you think about it boils down to "wanting," wanting an experience or sensation to be like this and not like that, wanting someone to behave like this and not like that, etc. Don't want, just accept! Then you can look around, and see what it is that's truly calling out to be done...



On Dec 30, 2014 Rahul Varshney wrote:

This resistance to existence? Is this the hallmark of our persistence? Perhaps we must simply flow with the go. Justice in motion, even poverty is karmic, does this one not know? Go about the day, let it not tarnish your glow. Ignorance we must resist, its tangled web makes our intellect insidiously slow. Throw down the gauntlet? If you do, make it a show! The storm leaves not a drop of rain in the cloud -- this is how gray skies come and go!
\V/
#OM #Namaste



On Dec 30, 2014 Syd wrote:

Wow, this "not resisting resistance" truly is serenity. The sirens during meditation reminds me of my internal chaos and my needing to escape my crushing negative consciousness. In fact I have only been meditating four years because meditation would make my nervous system tuned to a high pitch. When I tired to meditate my repressed unconscious impulses would erupt into my mind and in my body. I would become burning hot, sweating, and then the sewer ran out of my mouth. I instantaneously became fatigued, terribly confused, and racked with self-doubt. Everything became so complex and exhausting. Meditation would cause me to suddenly block all my feelings and it felt like life was being drained out of me. So I gave up on meditation many times, even from having any meaningful desires, because I did not want to hurt anymore. The chasm of inner darkness would open up inside, like a black hole draining life out of me. Meditation just became a source of torment and it felt like it was mocking  See full.

Wow, this "not resisting resistance" truly is serenity. The sirens during meditation reminds me of my internal chaos and my needing to escape my crushing negative consciousness. In fact I have only been meditating four years because meditation would make my nervous system tuned to a high pitch. When I tired to meditate my repressed unconscious impulses would erupt into my mind and in my body. I would become burning hot, sweating, and then the sewer ran out of my mouth. I instantaneously became fatigued, terribly confused, and racked with self-doubt. Everything became so complex and exhausting.

Meditation would cause me to suddenly block all my feelings and it felt like life was being drained out of me. So I gave up on meditation many times, even from having any meaningful desires, because I did not want to hurt anymore. The chasm of inner darkness would open up inside, like a black hole draining life out of me. Meditation just became a source of torment and it felt like it was mocking me. However, I have gradually became aware I was looking for ways to do away with my tormented consciousness.

Because of physical circumstances where my cells no longer produce energy for my muscles I started meditating to learn to accept the good and the bad. It felt like there was nowhere to hide and I was forced to acknowledge disquieting parts about myself. Being sensitive to my subconscious was like a message in a bottle washing up on the shore of my consciousness. Nothingness and emptiness was the message. This place made me feel edgy, a certain death and walking off the edge of the world.

Something from within, faith and courage, began counteracting this terror and despair. Just this last year I felt this need to leap into this nothingness and to let it be who I am. And it is just lately I notice a potential here, where death and life meet together. Another way to express this is it feels like my internal silence is bowing to the external silence and these two silences are connecting. It feels like a point of death and I am surrendering to this silence and it is everything.

From this nothingness I feel like my boundaries are falling apart. The connection is my contradictions are held together in the silence. I will also say this makes my faith feel like it has no reference to anything or anyone. Faith is silence. Silence is its own value, the silence that surrounds everything and everything emanates from there. The emptiness is paradoxically creating itself, like my identity is learning to be centered in Essence. The nothingness and my empty bottle is meeting as a still point and it feels like just a place to begin.

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On Dec 30, 2014 Mish wrote:

 Become the observer.



1 reply: Deepak | Post Your Reply
On Dec 30, 2014 Soul wing wrote:

Not resisting resistance means not getting mad at drivers who drive rudely or discourteously.  You go with your own flow and allow them to flow through without being upset by it :-).



On Dec 29, 2014 brett wrote:

Suppose someone has a resistance to letting themselves be loved. They resist affection. If you compliment them, they dismiss it. In digging deeper within, such a person might find they have a resistance to intimacy and vulnerability. How do you approach this? You can just be with the struggle, and that is helpful, but better still is to understand that whatever you resist, you have a good reason for it. The resistance is really trying to help you. Rather than not resisting, SUPPORT the resistance. Not in the sense like "hell yeah, I don't need your love" but rather "I am keeping away from these feelings for good reason. For whatever reason I pull away from these moments and that is actually trying to protect some vulnerable part of me. I am grateful for that." Explore that which the resistance is protecting. Understand that the resistance is there to help you and my no longer be required [to a some degree]. Because you acknowledge and support the urge to resist, the need to resistance  See full.

Suppose someone has a resistance to letting themselves be loved. They resist affection. If you compliment them, they dismiss it. In digging deeper within, such a person might find they have a resistance to intimacy and vulnerability. How do you approach this? You can just be with the struggle, and that is helpful, but better still is to understand that whatever you resist, you have a good reason for it. The resistance is really trying to help you. Rather than not resisting, SUPPORT the resistance. Not in the sense like "hell yeah, I don't need your love" but rather "I am keeping away from these feelings for good reason. For whatever reason I pull away from these moments and that is actually trying to protect some vulnerable part of me. I am grateful for that." Explore that which the resistance is protecting. Understand that the resistance is there to help you and my no longer be required [to a some degree]. Because you acknowledge and support the urge to resist, the need to resistance, the urgency can quite down. You can perhaps then begin to explore what is like to let down a little. To repurpose that part of you that is taking care of some wounded place. When that occurs, reconciliation as you call it occurs automatically, spontaneously, and profoundly.

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On Dec 28, 2014 david doane wrote:

Not resisting resistance means to not fight or deny resistance but be aware of it and in a nonjudgmental way let it happen.  It means to be detached from the resistance, not investing in it and not being distracted by it.  Learning to accept and stay with what I am experiencing is ongoing.  I'm not really very good at it.  I am easily distracted and captured by thoughts that keep coming in.  My insight is that I am easily busy in my head, often not good at being still, often not present.  My insight is that there is a stillness beneath my head busyness.  Letting my head busyness come and go without my getting caught up in it may be my reconciling being the change with non-resistance -- it's difficult for me.  Sometimes I'm not good at being where I am.  I struggled in writing this response -- I guess I struggle with not resisting resistance. 



On Dec 27, 2014 Kristin Pedemonti wrote:

Resisting resistance means to allow whatever emotions or thoughts are arising within to arise. No judgment. In the past year when going through an episode of Depression I allowed myself to really feel the feelings, not run away from them (literally by running or going to the gym) but sat with my feelings and allowed them to wash over me while reminding myself nothing is permanent, so neither are these feelings. This too shall pass and all of that. Sitting there and feeling and observing the feelings and thoughts had a sort of cleansing effect as I also reminded myself of all the beautiful experiences I've had. But being able to sit with the feelings of sadness somehow had a release and freeing effect. I believe when we do not judge our emotions and instead simply feel them we can be released from them. I hope this makes sense. HUG.



On Dec 27, 2014 Sheetal V. wrote:

 During my 7 month journey I had decided to stay in the flow and allow emergence. At one point I met this person who started challenging my thoughts on right or wrong, good and bad, how to serve. I could see the resistance arising and an urge to defend was coming up. I resisted my resistance to allow the flow and observed that mind was also acknowledging truth in what he was sharing. As I started “seeing” and “allowing” I was able to accept the truth. I could also realize that whenever we are faced by anything that doesn’t fix in the framework of our mind resistance surfaces as a defense mechanism to uphold the “ego”. The practice that I follow whenever resistance arises is to ask the question what am I resisting. Change, or challenge? Through the answer looking at the truth in the situation and allowing emergence in the moment. The beauty is heart has already taken sides with truth so change becomes effortless.



1 reply: Rajasi | Post Your Reply
On Dec 26, 2014 Abhishek wrote:

 There is immense peace and power in accepting the world as is - that acceptance is not a sense of resignation but opens up a sense of possibilities, the starting point of which is the point of zero resistance.

Not resisting resistance itself is a beautiful 'meta' movement where you expand to include resistance itself in what you are not resisting...and there are loops like that which can go on and on....(like not resisting the resistance to resistance) and yet all it boils down to is total and deep acceptance (and accepting the acceptance).....wonder if that is the insight!:)



2 replies: Donna, Steven | Post Your Reply