The pitched battle that we wage within ourselves comes to an end when we allow our resistance to be, says Suma Varughese
The central plank of my spiritual quest has been to free myself of resistance. I have always understood that the only thing that comes between us and enlightenment is resistance.
Knowing this is one thing, being this is another. And while I can’t quite claim to be there, it is increasingly easier for me to be with my resistances. Resistance to thoughts is my primary target. It’s a blanket thing. I simply resist all thoughts. Good, bad, neutral—makes no difference. Every time a thought appears (and hey, there’s no shortage of that), my entire being tenses up with discomfort. And the result is that I am usually trapped in loops upon loops of compulsive thinking. The truth, though, as I am now beginning to get, has simply been my utter resistance to thoughts!
Next are the emotions that arise from the thoughts. The loud jingle of my mobile that interrupted some work or even just a reverie may give rise to irritation and then discomfort about the irritation.
My physical sensations are the third component of my inner battles. Almost all physical sensations, even the slightest pain, or perhaps a sneeze, or an inability to burp have given rise to a flood of fear and anxiety, leading to such hyper-vigilance that the problem has usually escalated.
Perhaps, part of my overwhelming resistance can be attributed to being a seeker. In my eagerness to get to a state of thoughtlessness, could I have set up thoughts as enemy number one? Entirely possible. And equally, in my haste to be the embodiment of peace, love, and compassion, did I reject other emotions that challenged that image? Once again, very possible.
But even more culpable was my poor self-esteem that made it extremely hard for me to bear the sight of my shadow self. I have spent the last few months in my sister’s house nursing her in her terminal stage of cancer. Living with other people can often throw sharp light on that which I have hitherto rejected: In this case, my tendency to not close lids tightly, not put back things in their proper place, or to place vessels of food dangerously close to the edge of the platform. When these were repeatedly brought to my notice, I reacted with worry and anxiety. It was on one such occasion that I determined that I was going to accept myself as I was. I did not have to be a paragon. It was enough to be who I was.
This blanket permission is what has enabled me to be with my resistances. The beautiful thing is that when I don’t resist my resistances, the whole drama drops away. Today, I can permit myself to dislike someone in my space, and lo, my irritation immediately drops and I can interact with them normally. Similarly, I can permit myself to be angry with a friend without anxiously wondering if I were endangering our relationship. I find I can usually sort out the issue in my head.
It’s the same with my physical sensations. When I can stay with them instead of resisting them, I usually find myself able to spit out the phlegm that was trapping me in chest congestion or release the burp that was unable to make its way out. I often have trouble sleeping at night. Today, I allow the sleeplessness to be, and sooner or later, that allows me to drift into slumber. We are hardly aware of the layers of resistance with which we are festooned, until we learn to peel them away and experience the lightness and spaciousness hidden within.
Suma Varughese is a thinker, writer, and former Editor-in-Chief of Life Positive. She also holds writer’s workshops. Write to her at email@example.com.
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