A Question of Resistance

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The universe, with its grand sense of humor, recently and oh-so generously offered me a chance to explore my own resistance and to make some discoveries about where I’ve invested my will.

At a recent meditation intensive, the instructors added an hour of yoga to the daily schedule.  For those of you who have followed, you might recall my particular lack of fondness for yoga in an earlier newsletter - it was titled: The Art of Rage and Yoga.

I have been attending meditation retreats here for almost 10 years and never have I been asked to do yoga, or postures, as they prefer to call it.

While most of the class met the news with great enthusiasm and eagerness I was, at best, lackluster.  We lined up, many eager racehorses and me, desperate to go sit in the pasture and munch on grass.  Yet, the universe was calling out my resistance so off we went, my marginal willingness driven largely by peer pressure.

As the week progressed, I noticed that there was an overall positive effect of doing postures daily.  Mentally, I was still fighting it, but my meditations were deeper, stiller, and damnit, I felt good.  One night, in a moment of unexpected enthusiasm, I blurted out to my roommates that I was going to do 30 consecutive days of postures.  The next morning, they decided to join me in the 30 day commitment.  Crap.

During the next thirty days the exercise circled through reluctance to anticipation and back, but I did not quit, thanks to a question posed by an instructor at the retreat. 

Where is your will in this moment? 

I realized much of my will was invested in resisting the postures and in resisting the good feeling.  Feeling good actually happened against my will.  The universe really does have a sense of humor.  

And while ultimately, a 30 day yoga challenge is not a heroic act of will, it has given me a way to reclaim my will and its power. Harnessing will in the smallest ways gives momentum towards acts of will much larger. 

We've all had conversations about the challenges in committing to something, making meditation “stick,” or creating a routine and maintaining a good habit.  For me, asking 'where is your will is in this moment?' has been a game changer.  It is a way to reclaim the power that is inherently yours. 

Where is your will in this moment?

Pity Parties and Dancing with Stuckness

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I should have known.  When I wrote about joy last month, I should have known that I would immediately be put to the test.  This past month I had a series of small incidences that sent me into a nosedive.  I know the techniques that help bring me back to a state of joy and here was my test.  Did I do them?  

Nope.  

I delayed, I procrastinated, I came up with reasons why my tools were not worth pursuing.  Dancing to my favorite music?  Meh.  Exercise?  I pulled my hamstring and could not be bothered to go to the pool.  Hanging out with friends?  I isolated myself instead, "saving" my friends from my surliness.  Grumpy dwarf could have taken lessons from me.  I blamed the overcast weather, I blamed my injury, my spouse, I blamed the alignment in the stars, the tides and well, you get the picture.  I was stuck in my morass and as I kept looking for a way out, I had to acknowledge the giant elephant in the room.  

I didn’t want out.  There was a part of me that wanted to wallow in the muck. I wanted to lay in the mess and make mud angels in my cocktail mix of pessimism, pity and blame.  This part of me wanted to put on a black leather jacket and give inspiration and joy the middle finger.  Destruction, implosion and misery sounded way more interesting.

Oh.

Oh.

Um, yeah.  Not my proudest moment but a powerful one.  Something changed when I acknowledged this inner rebellion.  I was able to see more everything more clearly.   

I dug up a blog written by a friend, Elisa Mehl, that had always resonated with me.  I respect her immensely.  She talks about the experience of feeling stuck:

“When we can't move forward, often it's because we are not finished with the experience we are actually having.  What if we were simply present for the rich alive pulsing of the exact state and moment?  What if we didn't pay attention to our mind, or society, or friends telling us we should be more mature or positive or open or accepting or whatever?
 
Often this takes a reframe.  We are conditioned to seeing our "stuckness" as bad.  But what if we reframe the stuckness into an embrace?”

    •    When we try to change something we are outside of it.
    •    By not trying to change something and being curious we get present.
    •    Presence carries us inside, to the center of whatever is going on.
    •    In the center, is our presence.   Presence is life.
    •    Our perspective is different when we are present.

Until I acknowledged my desire to stay in the misery, I was fighting an unseen opponent, one stealth and well-versed in ambushing me.  In getting curious about my desire to stay stuck, I could suddenly start to see my choices again.  I had more space to see and decide and felt less committed to my inky pity pit.  I invited my husband for a surf and went for a walk with a friend and did some stretching.  I even dragged myself to a yoga class. Afterwards, I felt the best I had in weeks and I remembered why I like to feel good. 

It’s rejuvenating and the the world is brighter again.  

We all drop into that hole in life.  And sometimes, we want to stay in the hole.  The key is to get curious about it.  Be present with it.  Acknowledge it.  Then, decide.  Where do you want to go next? 

with love,
Jennifer

For Elisa's full article click here