One reason we must practice mindfulness is due to our default setting: Resistance.
I’ll never forget the day I was standing at the check out in the Liquor Store. Suddenly, there was a huge scuffle at the front door. I heard a man shouting, “Stop resisting! Stop resisting! I am an officer of the law! Stop resisting!” I looked to see two men wrestling on the ground. Apparently, a young man in a trench coat was caught trying to leave the store with stolen alcohol concealed in his coat.
The man was putting up quite a fight, and took a real beating in the process. When he was finally secured in handcuffs, the undercover cop stood him to his feet. I could see blood dripping from his nose. I kept thinking that if he hadn’t resisted so hard he wouldn’t have taken such a beating.
Isn’t this what we all do to one degree or another? When we experience things in our lives that we don’t want, we resist. “How do I resist?” you ask. In several ways:
- Dissipation: We try to push the painful experience out by using anger, crying, excessive talking, etc.
- Blocking: We try to block the pain by shutting down, i.e. isolation and depression.
- Distraction: We try to block or dissipate by using distractions such as drugs, alcohol, watching TV, sex, etc.
Why do we resist? We resist the things that push us over the edge. When we feel unsafe, we resist. When we feel overwhelm, we resist. Most of the time, resistance is done unconsciously. A good way to know you are resisting is to pay attention to your mood. Also, you can observe your emotions by identifying where in your body you feel it. Negative emotions can be felt in a specific part of the body; sometimes the throat, chest or stomach.
It is not necessary to resist. It’s just something we do without even noticing. That is why we must practice mindfulness. Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and without judgment.
Mindfulness is a way to overcome fear and resistance. Carl Jung once said, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” The way to stop resisting is by becoming more aware of it.
Resistance creates suffering. This is not to be confused with pain. Pain is physical; suffering is spiritual. Pain is necessary and real; suffering is not necessary and an illusion. Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.
We can avoid resistance and suffering by practicing mindfulness. Learning to accept ‘what is’ – the essence of mindfulness – will serve as a way to avoid suffering and stop resisting.