What we resist-persists. Resistance may be a defense mechanism, an inner knowing of something being off, a means by which we protect ourselves, or an expression of wanting something to be different. What I have observed regarding my own inner resistance is that it is very automatic, depending on the person, situation, or experience. It is a red flag to me that I am not present.
In the present moment there is no need to resist what is. This does not mean that we won't consciously choose to remove ourselves from a situation, but any inner resistance is worth getting curious about and is certainly a wonderful opportunity for learning and growth.
As a yoga practitioner and teacher trainer I have the privilege of guiding students through many asana, pranayama, and meditation practices. It always amazes me how much resistance is stored in the physical body (that undoubtedly receives commands from manas, the mind).
For example, when we try too hard during an asana, the result – muscles contract, prana gets blocked, and the nervous system is stressed. More tension is created despite our greatest efforts to relax through our yoga practice. Sometimes we even resist the relaxation.
Savasana, the practice of corpse pose at the end of a yoga class, is the ultimate surrender. Resistance here is futile. Let go is such a cliché. We hear it all the time, but what does it really mean to let go? How do we truly surrender into savasana, or better yet, into our living, waking life?
This is the ultimate mastery in yoga – to yield into an experience of grace where we are not resisting whatever is happening, thus allowing the prana, the life force to glide easily through our body and mind. Peace, stillness, and love dwell beneath the surface of fear, anger, sorrow, agitation, and resistance.
The breath is the key to unlocking resistance. When we resist, a contraction occurs. The Yogis and Martial Artists have known and understood energy and how to manage it for thousands of years. Therefore, they yield at times of great force, challenge, and attack. This ability to soften and yield is often the most powerful move.
Deep, calm, soothing breaths allow the prana to continue to flow properly, subsequently presence is illuminated and clarity prevails. Clarity connects us to understanding and compassion. There is no room for resistance to breed when love, compassion, and curiosity reign.
There is much to resist in everyday, modern life: the red light, the line-up at the grocery store, the great disappointment, a broken heart, something a family member says, or the way we are feeling. Yet, whatever we are resisting, we are not accepting. Non-acceptance leads to, or is led by resentment, frustration, anger, and pain.
Connecting to the breath opens the heart and clears the mind. Suddenly the red light turns to green, another line-up opens at the grocery store, a loved one makes an apology, or we are able to witness the current experience without judgement.
When we allow all of life and the experiences it brings to flow through us, we can move on from hurts and pain more easily. When we resist something or someone, we're holding onto the past or fearing the future.
Take a deep breath and let your muscles and mind relax when you feel yourself bracing against the world. Tap into your inner mastery, stay present to your life, and allow that really annoying driver in as they cut ahead of you on the highway.