Resisting stillness

Light purple sticky note with script reading "my brain has too many tabs open"

At the start of my regular Tuesday meditation sessions, the teacher usually asks how we’re coming to practice. Yesterday, I said I was feeling a lot of resistance. 

After her regular thank-you-for-sharing affirmation, she encouraged me to question what was feeling threatened by the practice. THREATENED. The word hit hard. The question caught me off guard. 

Partway through the meditation, I found my answer.

As Kirat guided us to focus on our breathing, my mind skittered away. Thinking about to-do lists, judging all the things I hadn’t ticked off (or even added). Rather than being in the present, I was consumed with past work or potential future productivity. 

So many things seemed more important than taking 20 minutes to “do nothing.”* So much societal pressure to be productive. 

My drive to be constructive was threatened by my meditation practice. 

After the practice, Kirat shared some Buddhist philosophy: “Resistance is protective behaviour. If we can identify what we’re protecting, it becomes easier to settle into that.” 

Just like my knee swelled up to protect itself after the meniscectomy, my brain was trying to protect me from feeling worthless. Busyness and accomplishments are valuable, so the opposite must also be true.
But it’s not.   

I’ve been meditating consistently for more than 18 months and I know regular practice makes life easier for me—and make the internal gremlins less convincing. 

So, I encourage you to ask: what’s being threatened by you taking a pause? Whether it’s meditation or yoga or reading a fluffy novel or anything else that brings you peace, what’s providing that resistance?

Can you identify it? Can you settle into it? Can you quiet your internal gremlins?

Can you take a break?

*Note: Meditation is hard. And it’s important for my well being. It’s not “doing nothing,” but the gremlins in my head insist on framing it that way.

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