Rolling with Resistance

It was one of those days. You know. The kind of day when it feels like the whole universe is conspiring against you. Bookings fall through. People fail to show up. Commitments are reneged on. And as the world collapses, you curl up into a little ball, wondering out loud (or, perhaps, wailing histrionically), “Why is this happening to me? What did I do?”

In my case, I was at work and highly visible to my clients; ball-curling was not an option. Instead, for ten masochistic minutes, I wallowed in my own stomach-twisting misery, the computer screen blurring through the mist of my tears. Then my mind flashed back to a lecture I'd attended as part of my yoga teacher training. We'd talked about Patanjali's yoga sutras, the cessation of the mind's ebb and flow, and how this might be achieved. We'd discussed our human tendency to react to events as either positive or negative, to push up against resistance no matter how hard it pushed back and the suffering that this caused.

I stopped. I recognized that I was experiencing resistance. And I realized that the only reason I was feeling angry and frustrated was because I couldn't see past myself, and how things were affecting me. I wasn't able to see that, just maybe, the resistance was there for a reason. That there was no point pushing and pushing against it, and a better option might be to open myself to it, move with it. Go with the flow.

In that moment, all the tension melted away. I felt buoyant, clear headed. Calm. I rested in this space and continued on with my day, trusting that it would unfold as it should, even if it was not in the way I expected.

The ego is such an easy trap to fall into: This is happening to me, therefore it must be about me. But the Universe doesn't work like that. In fact, it doesn't really care that much about you and how you feel about what happens. The reality is that the Universe will provide you with whatever you need at any point in time. Every obstacle in our way exists to teach us something. It is only when we are unable to see this, or to grasp the lesson, that suffering occurs. The Universe will continue to offer up this lesson, in a variety of guises, until we get it.

One of the yoga niyamas, or observances, is Isvara Pranidhana (Surrender). Essentially, this niyama advises us to surrender to our personal form of God -- this may be Allah, Jesus, Shiva, Buddha, the Universe, whatever form works best for you. In the act of surrendering, we find freedom from suffering. We recognize that we are not at the centre of the Universe, that there is a bigger picture of which we may not yet be aware. We trust that events are unfolding as they should, even if the reason is as yet unclear. Everything is as it should be. So relax! All we have to do is breathe.

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