It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us.
We commit to real change, and then we resist it. This cosmic dance has been going on forever in every ballroom since the beginning of time. Remember those New Year’s intentions? Then you know what I mean. What’s up with that? Let’s talk focus….
I’ve committed to write more this year. It’s what I want. Now that I’ve said it, I know I will drag myself into my writing room-- and it will feel as though I have to hoist a dead whale body out of the way---just to sit down and type out a sentence—and this is my “bliss,” mind you. Naturally, I’ll want to pet my cat until she’s bald, then wash my hands, then research how did soap get invented, and then perhaps start a small organic soap company on the side that employs underprivileged women in third world countries. Oh, but I’ll stay put. I’ll write. Because I’ve committed to this focus.
There is a part of myself who will wheedle: “Maybe tomorrow. You’ll feel better tomorrow.” Then there’s the one who’s painted her toenails Purple Passion, during writing time, and stomps her imperial feet. “I don’t want to write,” she bellows. Another part of me bargains. “I’ll answer email now. Do the dishes. Work on taxes. Okay, okay, I’ll exercise!”
What is all that about? Therapists call it resistance. In spiritual traditions, they call it the death of the ego or the frightened self that keeps you smaller than you really are.
But I’m thinking the technical term is: blah, blah, blah, something to ignore on the road to everything you really want.
So how do you move past this involuntary push back and into the life you desire?
In Buddhism, there is a classic story about Milarepa, a Tibetan monk who sought to meditate and find peace in a cave. You can think of it as his new year’s resolution. Just when Milarepa gets all ready to keep his promise to himself, these unruly, foul demons arrive and disrupt his lovely peace-fest. But Milarepa didn’t go ballistic and he didn’t go limp. Turns out he didn’t turn on Netflix either.
As the tale gets told, he accepted his disruptive energies and invited them to tea. He stopped thinking things should be otherwise, and refused to reject the way things were. Then having stopped protesting the demons, they simply disappeared.
It turns out that resistance thrives on resistance. And resistance can’t survive acceptance.
Maybe Jesus also knew a move or two about transforming negative energy when he said to turn the other cheek. I’ve seen this work personally and as a success coach: Acceptance works miracles--though it seems counterintuitive to the rational mind. It’s just not productive to hate the part of yourself that gets in the way of you being productive.
Writing guru Natalie Goldberg, makes a similar point in her classic book Writing Down the Bones. She talks about writing past your inner critic, not giving the critic any energy or pushback. Remember that old childhood retort, “I know I am, but what are you?” That wouldn’t be a good strategy for an infinitely vicious and disturbed inner troll. She says fighting with your inner critic is like “wrestling with tofu.” It’s pointless, exhausting, and if you ask me, I’d say smelly in the end. So, I’m guessing you can invite tofu to tea as well.
This year I’ve decided I’m going to write-- no matter what form resistance takes. I may have to walk past a screaming baboon that oh yes, really, pretends to care about the quality of my writing. And I’ll have to slip under the barbed wire of a thousand other demands that all carry the electric current of urgency. And then while writing, sure, I may have to look in the mirror and confront cellulite and age and the breaking of past promises. But it’s all okay. Because I’m on the road to freedom. There is only one road through this.
I’ll be gentle with myself. I’ll be gentle with my resistance, too. But I’ll hold on fiercely to my desires and intention. I won’t spook so easily now. I won’t waste energy wishing it were otherwise. I’ll get the tea ready. I’ll welcome “everyone” to the party. I will love myself that much. I will show up with patience and reverence for the process, even if I don’t much like it. I will like myself for stepping out of the rut of ordinary life into the arena of transformation.
I’ve fooled myself for far too long, saying it’s easier to wait until I have more time or resources or fill in the blank. Now I know I’ll never live my full dreams without this focus. Besides, resistance is the clear sign that I’m getting too near the gold mine or stash of real change. I must be afraid of something very big and explosively good. Ooh la la.
What’s the one thing you can do this year that would make every difference in the world to you? What calls to you right now? What would you regret not discovering, beginning, doing or finishing, yet again, for another year? That’s your road to freedom.
That’s the pathway to everything you want. That’s where you’ll meet your demons. But it’s also where you’ll meet your angels-- and capacities you didn’t know you had. Everything else is a secondary version of your real life.
I see now that resistance doesn’t matter and will always be part of the turf. Resistance will wear many disguises. My feeling of failure doesn’t matter. My fear and shame and even all my “reasons” don’t matter. Sure, it’s all going to come up. That’s the point. That’s how I heal and move into greater freedom than ever before. There is only one road to what I want. I can get on that road or not. My dreams aren’t going to change. And the nature of resistance isn’t ever going to change either.
This year I’m going to take that road. It’s my year to do it.
I might have to crawl or step over broken glass and hidden rattle snakes, I may have to forgive myself. I may have to even forgive the part of myself that attacks and blocks myself. I don’t know. And I don’t much care now. It’s the only next step I can take that points me in my true direction. I’ll bring snacks, bribes, amulets, faith and self-mercy. I’ll throw out the clocks, too, because I don’t care how long this takes. But I’m going, baby. I’m taking the road to freedom. I hope I see you out there.
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