“Looking at resistance can reveal the nature of mind, for what we are resisting is often the very thing we say we want.” -Joel Kramer
The past month plus in class, the topic of the reading has been resistance (under “Mental Aspects” of yoga practice. About two weeks into the reading (reading a paragraph each week and now doing some related discussion and related reading), I realized that “Wow! Resistance is SO huge and up for me right now!” The resistance was showing up on many fronts, in meditation and yoga practice, family life, business life (including taking me about 2 weeks to finally sit down and write this blog!) and other interpersonal life. (The notable places with apparently no resistance were walking our dogs and actually getting into the yoga room to do my daily practices.) Also, ironically/obviously, as I’m typing this, the link for Joel Kramer’s Yoga as Self-Transformation article is not working, for over a day now! It’s not my fault!! 🙂 Resistance shows up in so many ways.
As I’ve been mentioning in class with this reading, though, I think him saying “often” in that quote above is him actually being too conservative. I personally would say “always.” ANYTHING we say we want, from more yoga or exercise to flexible hamstrings to losing weight to ice cream or chocolate or Netflix, I think that if we look closely enough, we’ll see some part in there saying “No” since that is the nature of the ego-mind. Yes, no, yes, no, yes, no, yes, no… (with an occasional “maybe” but “yes/no” is implied in “maybe”).
The (unanswerable) question that then arose in my mind was “Is the resistance so big right for me right now because that’s what I’m focusing on in the reading and it just now seems bigger, or is the resistance that had been underlying now coming to the surface to be seen since by the reading, it has an invitation or an opening?” Certainly focusing on a certain topic makes it seem bigger in our consciousness, but I am not a perfected being, I assume there are others reading this who are as I am, and I know that there is still plenty of buried stuff in there, too. The thing about resistance is that it is indicating or pointing to some pain in there, and so “looking at it” is not going to be a pleasant practice!
A personal experience of this pain/unpleasantness from that time is that in my meditation practice for a couple of weeks, it seemed that my mantra was joined by another mantra, equally strong and equally aimed at God/the Divine Mother (my Chosen Deity/Ideal). That new mantra was “I hate you, I hate you, I hate you…” It’s ironic or funny or totally appropriate since my last blog was “I love you, I love you, I love you, Part 2”, and the focus of December was/is that also!!! (Maybe the Universe/the Inner World was striving for balance? Or maybe the “I love you’s” did part of what they are supposed to do: to reveal their opposite!) I wasn’t worried at all about it, having experienced a much worse spontaneous mantra before and knowing that I still love/loved God/the Divine Mother, mySelf and all beings just as I had before, but there was that thought, repeating of its own accord in my mind. One positive thing about it, besides the complete spontaneousness and honesty of it, was that my attention did seem to be even more strongly anchored where I wanted it.
As a parallel reading, I am reading since this week from an interview with Amrit Desai from back when he was the Guru at the Kripalu Center in which he says, “In consciousness, which means nonjudgmental awareness,” (an important point)…we experience the desire, or resistance, without trying to suppress it but also without compulsively acting on it. We experience it as it is and experience all that is happening internally and neither choose for or against the experience. This is not an easy thing to do and it requires the capacity, of course, to consciously experience discomfort. Here, we need to remember that in general, on the mat, we are trying to find some discomfort, or “therapeutic irritation”, but NOT pain, meaning by Joel’s definition, I’m not running from the feeling or trying to get away from it in any way. On the meditation cushion, that will not necessarily apply, and at other times in our life, Life will be having us experiencing pain that is beyond our capacity to change anything other than our experience of it.
If we have the courage, strength, patience and faith to go through the discomfort consciously, if we can keep breathing, relaxing and feeling as Amrit Desai (and experience) tells us, the mind becomes quiet and tranquil, peaceful, and we can remember/see the Bigger Picture more clearly. After going through the hours and hours of the “I hate you” mantra, and remaining as nonjudgemental about it as I could, something did finally shift accompanied by a profound personal insight and a deep feeling of peace and OK-ness.
Resistance requires a perspective, which we all have. That perspective is necessarily a small and personal one. It’s only from my small, personal point of view that something (even something inside) is resisting “me” and “my” desires or will. The “me” IS the perspective that perceives resistance and is, from another perspective, the actual and only CAUSE of resistance since from the Universal perspective, which is an equally valid perspective, there is NO resistance, never has been, never will be, just the Flow, which includes yin AND yang, or in Yoga: tamas, rajas AND sattva. Summer is not resistance to winter nor is winter resistance to summer. They both exist as part of each other.
I write all this because in the world there is “resistance”. If we know it’s there and that it’s going to be there and that it’s totally natural, then we don’t need to get bent out of shape, we don’t need to freak out or get angry or whatever about it, but we can remain our conscious, loving, service-ful Self and move forward strongly, clearly and intelligently; and sometimes, us being our conscious, loving, service-ful Self will have us be “resistance” to other viewpoints. But if we don’t face our own inner resistance, we can be sure that the situation in the world is not going to change. Politically we see on both sides, an unwillingness and inability to consciously experience, to listen to, to understand the “resistance” seeming to come from the “other” side, but largely created from that one side itself. Let’s take that as a warning and as an inspiration to do it differently in ourselves and in our families and in our lives as much as we can. At the very least, then, we get to a deeper peace in ourselves which will spill over into the World. Who knows what the “at most” shift could be? Let’s find out.