I must have hit the snooze button three times this morning. I don’t remember any of them (sorry, Josh). As I boiled water for the coffee, I spent ten minutes in meditation. I use the app Headspace, which has all sorts of guided meditations, including series focusing on a topic or theme. I’m in the middle of one for acceptance. The description says, “Learn to let go of resistance and find acceptance not just toward your own thoughts and feelings, but also other people and difficult situations.” Every day, it has me ask myself, “Who or what are you resisting in your life right now?” I then sit with the feelings and images that arise – not to try to answer the question or find the solution (which is difficult for me).
This concept of resistance is an interesting one. It’s gotten me thinking about how much of life is avoiding what I don’t want or what I view as negative, rather than focusing on what I do want, and accepting that going after that may come with struggle.
This morning is perhaps a small example. After my meditation, I opened my laptop even though I had absolutely zero idea of what to write about. I employed some avoidance tactics – namely, Facebook – trying to wake up my brain and somehow trigger inspiration for my writing.
But, in the end, it was the promise to myself that Tuesday mornings are for writing that got me to place my hands on the keys and wait. It was letting go of the resistance to the “what” of the writing and focusing on the “why” of the writing. It is something that I want to do, something that makes me feel good, something that allows me to be connected to my voice and the world. It helps me process, helps me understand, helps me contribute. Just by showing up and spending the time, I can improve, I can build a body of work, I can play with what I want this space to be. I like the routine I’ve built for myself on Tuesday mornings. I like the head space I’m in on Tuesday mornings. Once I push past the resistance of “what am I going to write about today,” the words flow and my voice goes from being jumbled inside of my brain to more clear on the page.
It’s hard to translate that to the rest of my life. I think the main thing I try to resist is the feeling of disappointing someone. I resist rocking the boat. I resist doing that which I perceive as possibly being judged by anyone. The paradox is, I’ve had success in my life not just in spite of, but probably because of, these resistances. I’ve manipulated this fear of judgement into an intrinsic motivation that drives me to succeed. So, when I think about letting go of that which I resist in my life, it’s scary – would I still be as successful? Would my definition of success change? What would instead drive me? What would the world think?
But in resisting failure, have I also resisted opportunity? Have I resisted asking for what I want? Have I resisted adding my voice to the world? What have I covered up?
I’ve always thought of my innate tendencies to avoid disruption as a sort of going with the flow. This imagery has even come up for me in therapy – instead of being able to drive my own life, I’m just passively floating along being pushed whenever I hit an external force. Bobbing along without an aim or direction or sense of where I want to be.
But now I’m seeing a new image. One where I’m dipping a toe into the water but pulling back any time I feel movement. Not even entering the water – resisting the chance to be carried to a new place because the shore I’m on seems good enough. Resisting entering the water because I know I will have to steer around rapids and rocks, whereas I can lay back on the shore and not have to worry about those obstacles.
It’s scary to think about jumping into the water when I don’t know where it leads or what I will encounter along the way. I don’t even think I know how to jump in. Maybe I feel like because I jumped in at least once already (moving to San Francisco), I shouldn’t have to/don’t have to do it again. But there’s something in me stirring, telling me that I’m stuck back on shore, that’s telling me to stop resisting. To accept that jumping in is scary and cold and unknown – but doing it anyway.