Resistance and Acceptance

The two most helpful concepts to learn when going through the awakening process would have to be resistance and acceptance.

You’ll certainly be familiar with the first one, resistance (even if you haven’t identified it as such).

But what about acceptance? And how can that help with the process, and help us lead a life “in flow?”

To help illustrate these elements, take a look over my shoulder as I discuss this with a client:

Enter Viktor:

Hello!
You’re saying I shouldnt resist all the strange negative thoughts I experience. But I recall reading somewhere on your site that you shouldn’t follow your thoughts into daydreams, which i think I will if I don’t resist them and focus on breathing or something like that. How do I solve this? 🙂

Jim:

Great question. But there is actually no contradiction here. Let me explain:

When you resist a thought or feeling, what you are doing is creating another thought about that original thought. That in turn, creates another feeling, usually negative, and a downward spiral begins. Down and down you go, with each thought getting more negative, and each feeling getting worse and worse.

This is important: resisting things doesn’t change those things.

So if you resist a negative thought, you actually create more negative thoughts and feelings. But if you accept that negative thought, it diffuses, you don’t add any further suffering, and are free of the downward spiral.

Let’s pretend you are stuck in the mud in the jungle. You’re gripped by fear as the quicksand sucks you in. The more you struggle and fight to get free (resistance), the deeper you go. Until finally it claims you.

But let’s say you fall in the mud, and you accept it. You ACCEPT the fact that you are in the quicksand. There is no denying it, it’s simply a fact. Instead of resisting it, and struggling to escape, you accept it and simply reach for a branch and pull yourself out with nothing but dirty boots.

Accepting facts doesn’t mean you don’t do something about it. If you are in a negative situation, accepting the situation as happening doesn’t take anything away from acting to change the situation for the better. It actually helps you change the situation for the better.

Resistance takes your options away and adds mental and emotional (and quite often physical) suffering. Acceptance and surrender to what is in the now moment opens your awareness and gives you options and choice. It could be choice to do something to change the circumstance, and then you go and do that with acceptance.

To become aware of your breathing, you do not have to resist the negative thoughts. It is simply a matter of attention. Shift your attention from what you do not want, and put it on what you do want. Remember what you put your attention on, expands. Accept that you feel bad, and do not add any suffering to it, then shift your awareness to your breathing, and accept what you are doing in that moment.

It is a recipe for happiness, as well as achievement.

Viktor:

How did u resist things in “normal” life u mean?
Another thing that crossed my mind, we talked about it earlier – Not observing that inner feeling of anxiety one can feel during meditation and life in general, u know?
How does that not contradict this “dont resist, go with it” mentality?
I really need to go to bed now but I feel I must learn this first haha 🙂

Jim:

I resisted things in normal life by adding suffering to a situation. For example, if something didn’t go my way at work, I would have a negative thought about it. That would lead to more bad feelings, leading to still more bad thoughts. These strings of thoughts shoot by very quickly and are usually outside our conscious awareness. We don’t even know we’re doing it.

This is what worry is. This is how fear begins. If you are experiencing negative emotion at any time, it means your mind is focusing on something that you do not want. You are resisting what is, and it is amplifying in your mind and body.

Get really familiar with the difference between focusing and witnessing. Read the article a few more times and think of times when you might have experienced each one. You will be very familiar with focusing, but what about witnessing? Has it ever happened to you?

Focusing is all about where you place your attention. Both consciously and unconsciously, it is all about thinking (pictures, voice, sounds, touch, feelings, smells & tastes).

Witnessing is not something you do, but it’s who you ARE spiritually. You are the entire universe. And being the entire universe, you have nothing to get, nothing to do, nowhere to go, nothing to fear. You are everything, and so there are no problems. You are whole.

Accept the now moment. Become present in your body. Surrender to what is. Witness, without adding anything. No judgement, no criticism, no desire, no fear.

Because despite your life circumstances, right now, there are no problems. In the eternal Now moment. If you surrender to it, you will feel the power there, in you.

So focusing is at the level of mind. You can focus on things you don’t want, or things you do want.

But witnessing is on a higher level. “The witness” sees everything you focus on, and casts no judgement, ever. Even when you are focusing on what you do not want, for example. There is acceptance. There is peace.

Focus is at the ego level. Witnessing is at the universal level. No matter what happens at the universal level, there is peace, bliss, joy, and love.

Everything at the level of mind has its opposite: up, down, in, out, you can’t have a one-sided coin, a dualistic world. But at the level of the witness, you experience transcendence. You experience all the opposites as one.

Positivity is at the level of mind. You can do that without resisting. You can do anything without resisting. You practice acceptance during meditation, and during normal waking consciousness.

It can be tricky to wrap your head around some of these things because quite often they need to be experienced. But that will come if you continue to meditate. You can’t experience the witness by thinking about it 🙂

Hope I haven’t confused you too much, there is a lot to take in, and you can’t grasp it all in one go. Take your time, keep going, and keep me up to date on your experiences.

Best,
Jim

If you have any questions, or simply liked the article (or didn’t), do me a huge favor and put a comment in the box below. Thanks!

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Jim Hudson

Meditator and image-maker. Silencer of monkey-minds. From illness and depression, Jim has clambered his way through to health and fulfillment using diet & meditation. Read about his experiences, and watch his videos right here on the site.

Show 1 Comment
  • Mark Harrison December 2, 2012, 8:46 pm

    Many years ago I read Anthony de Mello’s wonderful book, ‘Awareness.’ His premise is that, when you accept what is, and stop trying to fight it, everything starts to work. This simple idea changed my life.

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