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Lessons from the Mat: Meeting the Resistance

By Sheryl Paul
April 16, 2012

One of the most challenging roadblocks on the healing journey is working with resistance. Many of my clients feel split between two opposing forces: one part of them longs for healing and the accompanying sense of joy and fulfillment and the other part offers compelling reasons at every turn why healing and joy aren't possible.

Many people who struggle with resistance learn that they carry an arsenal of false beliefs stacked up like a brick barricade that prevents them from moving forward in their healing process. In these cases, it's essential to examine the false belief contained in each brick and slowly, repetitively, replace it with the truth. For example, many people resist taking full responsibility for their well-being because they carry a belief that someone else should rescue them or could do it better than they could. Once the false belief is brought to consciousness, the work is then being willing to recognize its falsity (no one can or will rescue you from your own mind), and continually bring the light of truth to the belief until, over time, the brick is dissolved.

Some of my most powerful insights occur during yoga class, and today, as I forced myself onto the mat feeling sluggish and resistant, I heard my teacher say (as he often does), "Notice what you're feeling right now. Just notice it. Are you tired, hungover, sad, numb? Wherever you are, see if you can meet it with compassion. Accept yourself completely as you are in this moment." As I noticed my tiredness and how often I wanted to retreat into the comfort of child's pose, I thought about my post a couple of weeks ago about meeting Asher's frustration, anger, and sadness. Since writing that post, I've honed my skill of being able to drop down to his level (I literally bend down so that I meet him eye-to-eye) and say to him, "I see that you're feeling very frustrated right now." As soon as I meet him wherever he's at, I can feel something break open inside of him. The shift is palpable, and within moments he moves through the feeling and says, "I'm happy now!"

So today in yoga, instead of indulging the tired part of me, I decided to meet it with compassion but continue in my practice. Every time I felt the urge to lie down, I would say to myself, "There's the tired part of me." And the same when I was in a more challenging pose and my Inner Child was pleading, "Please stop! This is too hard!" Knowing that it wasn't too hard and that I would benefit from staying in the pose, I met her with, "I hear you. I know you want me to stop. Yes, it is really hard." And then the release and the flood of prana, as we say in yoga, when the energy floods through the body, creating a feeling of fullness and aliveness. I wasn't staying in the pose because I was listening to the "shoulds" of an inner taskmaster but because I was responding with love and presence to the places in me that wanted to take the easy way out.

These are the subtle and daily ways that we learn to meet ourselves. The yoga example is benign compared to the barrage of the running commentary delivered by many of my clients' Inner Critic (i.e.: "You're never enough. You're going to be miserable forever. Nothing you do is good enough. Your only chance for happiness is to learn to be perfect. You can't mess up. You can't make a mistake." etc). How do you meet this barrage with compassion? It's not easy, but it's in recognizing that the Inner Critic - or Fear, Wounded Self, Judgement - is a part of you, but is not the true you. You are not your thoughts and you are not your wounds. You are infinitely more beautiful, pure, and radiant, and this is the part that is waiting for your attention. When you can stand, even for a moment, in the truth of who are you, you can begin to respond to the incessant lies that are keep you stuck behind the brick wall of resistance. And then you will begin to break through and find your way to freedom.




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