How can we embrace resistance?
This month’s story is a bit longer than usual, and a bit more personal, but I want to share something with you that’s spurred some deep transformation for me, because it’s something I think a lot us can relate to.
The ordinary world
When I look back on my life, I can clearly see the time when my baseline attitudes of love and curiosity were replaced by fear and resistance. I was 12 years old and just starting middle school. I never liked team sports but loved arts and crafts, so when most of the other boys chose intramural sports after school, I chose the sewing club. It never even occurred to me that this choice might have far reaching implications that would still be with me to this day.
My choice to join the all-girl sewing club so that I could make a teddy bear from scratch soon brought me all sorts of bullying, slurs and violence from some of the other boys in school. Friends that I had played with in elementary school wouldn’t even talk to me anymore.
I ignored it mostly. For the next couple of years, I threw myself into my schoolwork and spent a lot of time alone. When I got to high school at 14, I found the theater kids and finally felt at home. I didn’t really care what the other kids thought of me. I was doing well in school and my teachers all liked me.
Living with a dragon
Then my family moved to a new town and in the middle of my freshman year, I had to start in a completely new school where I didn’t know anyone. Instead of being myself, I decided to shut away who I was and try to fit in with the cool kids. I was faking it well enough that I wound up being one of the cool kids. That was where I started to hide who I was behind who I wanted people to think I was. I felt like the safest choice was to resist being who I was and work very hard to create a persona of who I thought I should be.
Many of us have gone through something similar growing up and may still be holding on to some of that same resistance. This morning on my walk with Bodhi, the sadness of that 12 year old boy hit me very deeply. I stopped for a while and just cried as it all came pouring out. The release felt so natural and like it was healing a part of me that had finally let go of all that resistance.
Putting down the sword
For so long, parts of me have felt like a dragon I needed to fear. Now I realize that the parts of me I was hiding weren’t the dragon, the resistance to those parts was. By resisting my own nature, I was creating a dragon and in the process, holding my self hostage.
But here’s the paradox of resistance in our lives. We can’t fight it. That only makes more resistance. We can embrace it, forgive ourselves and allow it to be what it is. There's no need to identify with the resistance or judge ourselves for it. That part is optional. So after over 40 years of living with this dragon, I’m finally putting down my sword and just giving it a big old bear hug, and it’s changing everything about my life for the better.
Here’s something that brings me joy.
And speaking of dragons… if you’ve never seen How to Train Your Dragon, I highly recommend it. It’s one of my all-time favorite animated movies and it’s about seeing the truth behind what we fear.
The original film is available on Amazon Prime (with ads) for free and you can watch the first sequel, How To Train Your Dragon 2 on Netflix. It’s as good as the original.
Here’s something to help you sleep.
I wrote a guided meditation specifically for embracing resistance. It’s a practice I like to do before bed so I can let my subconscious continue doing the heavy lifting while I sleep.
It’s called Embracing Resistance and it’s this week’s mindfulness meditation on the podcast. It has the sound of the creek behind the cabin in the background.
Here’s something I made.
I’ve been making more meditations with video. This one is to help you unwind the mind with a guided meditation on the beach. Last week, Bodhi and I made this during one of our afternoon outings to the Pacific Ocean and posted it on our YouTube channel. It’s great if you enjoy meditating with eyes open, or you can just put it on your TV with the volume down as a relaxing screen saver.
PS You'll get a free download of a relaxing recording of the creek behind the cabin when you subscribe to my monthly email newsletter with tips to help you get better sleep at night and more peace during the day. It's easy! Just use the form on this page. (Scroll to the bottom on mobile.)