Inner resistance is a weird thing. You feel as though you know what it is you want to do or where you want to go, but somehow some other part of you seems to disagree.
Since I came home from Santiago de Compostela, I’ve been experiencing inner resistance to all kinds of things, but especially with regards to restarting my routine of meditation and journaling. It hasn’t managed to stop me completely, but I’ve definitely been half-assing it.
So I’ve been pondering the challenge of working through this resistance, how to actually do what you know you want to do.
I’ve found the biggest challenge for me personally has been getting started. Like actually sitting down for a formal meditation session.
As soon as I manage to sit my ass down on the cushion, mental muscle memory kicks in and the meditation goes smoothly.
It’s as if I overestimate the willpower required to sit for an hour. It takes willpower to actually sit down, but staying put does not.
I believe that a change of perspective is required. Instead of, in my case, trying to get myself to do a 60 minute meditation session, I should try to get myself to sit down on my cushion and get comfortable. Break the resistance down into smaller parts.
Then as soon as I’m sitting comfortably, the next 55 minutes become a whole lot easier.
What is inner resistance, though? It’s as if there’s a part of you that actively tries to sabotage you, tries to convince you that you can’t or shouldn’t do something. Sound familiar? It should.
I believe that inner resistance is actually a subtle form of self-judgment.
I wrote about ways to deal with the inner judge in another post, but resistance is a bit more tricky.
It’s definitely a form of sabotage. We all know the feeling when we manage to break through this resistance, like when we exercise when we don’t feel like it, go to a party or make dinner.
The judge tries to convince us that it’s a waste of time, it’s easier to just watch tv, play a video game or order fast food, but in these instances we often see through it.
However, the more aware of this process we become, the more we see that the resistance goes way beyond these more obvious manifestations.
We feel resistance to all kinds of things. Any activity that the inner judge deems to be unstimulating (even though they may actually be very stimulating, like reading or journaling), pointless (even though they may be very useful, like exercise or cooking) or out of our league (even though they may be intensely satisfying, like playing music or making art), this is where we meet resistance.
This is a manifestation broken self-esteem, which is itself a consequence of constant inner judgment and criticism. We feel like we’re not adequate, not good enough to do these things, that we don’t deserve the benefits these activities may bring.
The first and most important step to overcoming resistance is to become aware of it. As soon as you become conscious of the resistance, and of the subtle judgments that are at the essence of resistance, removing it becomes possible.
This takes practice and patience. We need to give ourselves time, plenty of time. And we also need to be aware of self-criticism that may arise when we recognize resistance after the fact.
We have to understand that every single time we recognize the judge for what it is, is a step in the right direction. Even if we realize it a week later, or a year later.
When you become aware of your own resistance to something that you know you want to do, break the challenge down.
Instead of going out for a run and then doing an hour of exercise and stretching, the challenge becomes to put on your running clothes and shoes and stepping outside. A five year old could do that.
Instead of writing 10 pages in your journal, just go get your journal, your pen, and set it up on the table in front of you.
Instead of doing an hour of concentration meditation, just sit the fuck down.
The rest will sort itself out.