Practicing non-resistance has been a Godsend for me. It’s something I find myself coming back to multiple times a day.
What is non-resistance? It’s the acceptance, in the moment, of what life throws at us. Like what? As usual, it’s best to explain through examples:
-While driving to a doctor’s appointment you realize you got the time wrong and you’ll be an hour late.
-Your husband was supposed to take your daughter to basketball practice, but he hasn’t shown up so now you have to take her, which means missing your yoga class.
-You hit four red lights in a row.
In each of these situations we feel that jolt of negative energy zap our gut.
And what one critical element do each of these examples share? It’s something that has already happened. There is nothing we can do about it.
A critical question to ask
The most important question we need to ask ourselves in the immediate aftermath of these situations is this: Resisting what just happened will get me what?
I’m going to be late to the doctor, I’ve hit a bunch of red lights, I’m going to miss my yoga class. Resisting those realities and getting pissed off about them will bring exactly what positive benefit to me?
The answer, of course, is that resisting these realities will bring only angst, anger and bad moods.
No, you don’t become a doormat
What this doesn’t mean, as it relates to the husband being late and many situations like it, is that we bow down and let everybody walk on us. No.
It means that we simply chill out and respond from a place of presence rather than react from a place of egoic fury. With the no-show husband situation, you figure out why he was late and implement measures that will ensure it doesn’t happen again.
I know a lot of you are saying, “Chill out? After my husband screws up my afternoon? How the hell am I supposed to do that?”
It’s a great question. A question that goes to the heart of non-resistance. Why? Because life hands us a plethora of annoying and unfair situations. Every day.
But I have an answer to the question. Here’s why you should do everything you can to ‘chill out’ and not resist that situation with your husband:
BECAUSE IF YOU DO RESIST, YOU ARE SCREWING YOURSELF OVER!
Those words may be inartful, but they go to the core of non-resistance. Reality has happened. What good does it do you to get all uptight, angry and anxious by fighting reality?
This is looking at the matter from the harm resistance does us. Here’s a beautiful, eloquent description of the flip side, what a life of non-resistance looks like. No surprise, it comes from the great Eckhart Tolle:
“To offer no resistance to life is to be in a state of grace, ease and lightness.”
Ahhh…It relaxes me just reading that.
But I know something else many of you are thinking:
“Sounds great, but easier said than done. It would be impossible for me not to blow a gasket if my husband sauntered his way home and screwed me out of my yoga class. This non-resistance thing isn’t doable. It’s pie-in-the-sky.”
That is simply not true. It is doable. How?
First, become aware. The problem with most inhabitants of this planet is that they don’t even know how much they’re resisting and how damaging it is. Why? Because they don’t know there’s any other way to be.
“Of course I’m going to blow up at my husband. What the hell else am I going to do? Say thank you?!”
So step one is to simply go about your days and be vigilant about becoming aware when you resist.
Second, you practice. Practice what? Practice noticing when you’re resisting and relax. Calm down.
One thing that has helped me is when I get that agitated feeling, from being mad at something someone’s done or the red lights, etc., I turn it around and say to myself,
“This pissed off, negative feeling is on me. Not my wife. Not the lights. It’s on me. Because I’m choosing to resist rather than accept this reality.”
That may not eliminate the feeling each time, but the more you do it, the better you’ll get.
Which leads to a central point of this article: If you practice non-resistance, you will get better at it, and it will get easier. It’s like anything else. If you practice playing the violin, you’ll get better. If you practice your pickleball serve, it will get better. It’s no different with non-resistance.
I have a great example of this: Me. I’ve put in lots of practice over these past years and the results are showing. Here are a few recent examples.
1) Our neighborhood association informed us that we had to take down the basketball hoop in our driveway because it violated the bylaws. It wasn’t enforced for years then somebody got a bee in their bonnet over it and decided to crack down.
The old me would probably have gone to the mattresses over it. Who the hell do they think they are telling me what to do? Then I might have gone to some board meetings and raised hell.
But the bottom line is that my kids hardly used it. And frankly it gives us a little more room for parking.
So I didn’t resist. I let it go.
2) My tax accountant charges about twice what I should be paying. Why? Because he’s a high-end guy who charges something like $700 an hour. It’s been like this for around 7–8 years.
The problem is that my taxes aren’t that complicated. No shelters. No multiple properties owned, etc.
Starting around a year ago I looked around for another accountant. Strange as it may seem, I haven’t been able to find anybody. All the friends I’ve asked have said they don’t like their accountant, either!
So a few weeks ago, I said screw it. I’ll do it myself. It took me about an hour to realize that it wouldn’t be as easy as I thought.
So right then I said fine. I’ll go another year with my old guy. It’ll cost me around $1,000 more, but the thought of grinding out a return over the next month didn’t appeal to me.
And the reason the old me would have endured that tax prep misery wouldn’t have been about the $1,000. It would have been about “Screw him. He way overcharges me and I’m sick of it! No more!” In other words, it was about resistance.
3) You know that article I wrote last week about our family ski trip to Colorado? Well, one issue I didn’t dive into was that it cost me a fortune. The flights, the $1,500 for the rental car, the $239 lift tickets.
But here’s the reality: I’d decided we were doing this trip to celebrate my wife’s 50th birthday. So it was going to cost what it cost. In other words, I wasn’t going to decide mid-trip to slash costs somehow.
I quickly accepted the reality that I was spending a ton on the trip. The old me would have worried about it and gotten uptight on the trip.
The new me practiced non-resistance by acknowledging a reality I wasn’t going to change. So I didn’t worry about it.
I can’t tell you how good it feels to not get worked up about this stuff anymore. I’m saving myself from tons of toxic energy.
So when life happens, don’t resist. Accept. Relax. Then respond from a place of presence. It’ll be hard at first.
But if you rinse and repeat that process 24/7, you will eventually reach that “…state of grace, ease and lightness,” that Eckhart wrote about. I can’t think of anything more important than that.