Resistance to life is the cause of much suffering.
The more we try to resist the present moment, move against what is happening in the now, the more disconnected we become from who and what we really are.
Our essential nature as human beings can only manifest when we are connected with the present, for the present moment is the only place where anything actually happens. When we resist the felt presence of our own experience, which we do all the time in various ways, we miss out on the profound beauty and fullness of being human.
We resist the present moment through identifying with our thoughts. This means believing in our thoughts, which are often needless and not grounded in our actual experience. The thinking mind is like a machine—always pursuing pleasure and avoiding pain in order to make a “better” future out of our “damaged” past.
Thought is a necessary tool in interpreting the world, but all too often we lose ourselves in our thoughts.
We are not our thoughts, and the more deeply we understand this, the more connected we become with the flow of things. The thinking mind is a mechanism of resistance. Much of the resistance is necessary to navigate through the world, but the more enveloped we become in our thoughts, the more we resist what is actually happening. We lose touch with the present moment.
“The path of least resistance” is overrated; I say, take the path of no resistance.
Eckhart Tolle, perhaps the most well-known spiritual teacher alive, has been greatly influential to me in this understanding. His wisdom has opened my mind and my heart in ways I wouldn’t have thought possible, introducing useful tools for enduring the severe chronic illness I’ve experienced over the past few years.
He speaks of his spiritual awakening in his first book, The Power Of Now:
“One night, I woke up in the early hours with a feeling of absolute dread. The silence of the night, the vague outlines of the furniture in the dark room—everything felt so alien, so hostile, and so utterly meaningless that it created in me a deep loathing of the world. The most loathsome thing of all, however, was my own existence.
I could feel that a deep longing for annihilation, for non-existence, was now becoming much stronger than the instinctive desire to continue to live. ‘I cannot live with myself any longer,’ this was the thought that kept repeating itself in my mind. Then suddenly I became aware of what a peculiar thought it was. Am I one or two? If I cannot live with myself, there must be two of me. The I, and the self that I cannot live with.
Maybe, I thought, only one of them is real. I was so stunned by this strange realization that my mind stopped. I was fully conscious, but there were no more thoughts. Then I felt drawn into what seemed like a vortex of energy. I was gripped by an intense fear and my body started to shake. I heard the words, ‘resist nothing,’ as if spoken inside my chest. I feel myself being sucked into a void. Suddenly, there was no more fear, and I felt myself fall into that void. I have no recollection of what happened after that.”
Resist nothing. Resist nothing. Resist nothing.
These are the words I constantly repeat to myself, whether in meditation, moments where I am stressed or anxious, or simply any time in my daily life when I feel I could be more present.
Dealing with challenges now, I always try to start where I am, to begin at the present moment rather than trying to go somewhere else in my head. This is the essence of non-resistance and the foundation of a truly healthy life.
As a friend of mine once said, “If you have one foot in the past and one foot in the future, then you are pissing on the present,” and surely these words rang true.
So many of our perceived difficulties in life come from our mind. Of course, difficult things still happen in this life, but it is the thinking mind that makes them into “problems.” It doesn’t seem obvious to me that anything in life is inherently a problem (“problem” implies that there is something wrong), rather, there are only challenges to be dealt with and overcome.
The more we practice non-resistance in life—being here and now without needing to change our present experience—the more capable we are of dealing with difficult situations.
Lately, I have been attempting to bring more awareness to my body, rather than being completely enveloped in my thoughts. I envision each in/out breath as the tides of the ocean, part of the eternal flow of it all, and really try to feel each breath with the wholeness of my being. I picture every cell of my body vibrating—being filled with the energy of my awareness—truly sensing my own aliveness.
The warmth. The tingling. The pulsing. Feeling it all. The flowing of blood through my veins and the heavy callousness of my bones. Feeling the gentle air on my skin and the subtle tightness of my neck and shoulders. Sensing the dimensions of my body, the expansions and the contractions, and the entire energy field of this organism that is me.
When I feel the aliveness of my body, I return to the present moment.
Author: Samuel Kronen
Image: Chandler Hilken/Unsplash
Editor: Danielle Beutell
Copy Editor: Travis May
Social Editor: Sara Karpanan