All Tied Up
Have you ever thought about what anxiety or stress feels like in your body? For me and probably for most of us, I thought of the neck and shoulders, but really I carry stress and anxiety in all different places in my body. For some of them I realize that there’s tension there and I work to try to relax it - like my shoulders. My shoulders always seem to creep up around my ears when I am feeling stressed out in a situation. Others, like my hips, tense up when I am running or training. They are just telling me I am starting to reach my exhaustion point and I need to relax into the exercise. Now though, as I start to listen more closely, I am starting to recognize in my body when I am resisting energy or ideas - my heart center tenses up. I have to consciously focus on relaxing and opening my heart, but just as important is looking at what is bringing on this tension. It pays to pay attention to this! Just like when I realize my hips are tight in that last mile of my run, heart-center tension tells me there is an idea or energy I am resisting or fearing that I need to relax into.
Fear and resistance go hand in hand. Resistance often comes from fear. Fear that you are moving out of your comfort zone. Fear that you could be hurt. Fear that you could fail. Fear that you could be wrong. Fear that you won’t do it perfectly. Fear you will be judged harshly. Fear, fear, fear. So when my heart tightens up, I know I am no longer going with the flow. I am resisting and feeling fear. This isn’t to say that every time my heart closes up to an opportunity, idea or feeling, it is something I should pursue. It is however, a sign that I need to pay closer attention to that situation.
[RESISTANCE = BLOCKS]
It’s really resistance and not fear that I find most harmful. A lot of us act despite fear and work past fear. Resistance to me is visually represented by someone blindfolded and all tied up. They are bound, immovable and blind to what’s really happening around them. Their resistance has completely imprisoned them and they can no longer move, act on or see anything. I have seen this in myself, especially in the me of four years ago. I believed in limitations given to me throughout my life and I resisted growing or dreaming big for myself. Whenever my heart closes up, I now know I am resisting something that could be wondrous and bold and big. I see it in people who I love, they resist change - this is a big one. Especially when you are resisting change simply because you don’t allow yourself to see this opportunity as possible for yourself. For example, I have a friend who absolutely resisted the idea that she could write and teach from her writings. Not how she worked, she said, it was never going to happen. I wondered how or why someone would so adamantly resist an idea? What harm is it to just explore the possibility? Even exploring the idea was not going to happen for her. Her answer was an adamant “No!”. This to me was a big red flag - here is a place to learn big lessons and to grow! Seeing her in her own resistance is what really broke open resistance I was holding as in my life well. Like how I was resisting the idea of channeling in my writing and teaching - even though I recognized in some way that this is what was truly happening. Now, I almost immediately recognize resistance in my body and then try to immediately look at whatever is being presented to me in that moment, whether by others or as inspirations I receive, and try to keep an open mind.
I see resistance too in others, who are struggling on the wheel of life, running around in the same circle over and over and hating the inevitable stress and harmful patterns they keep coming up against in their work and lives, but never questioning that it could be different for them. Why do we assume that our work life, for example, cannot change. We see ourselves stuck working with the same people on the same kind of projects on the same hectic schedule and feel “Well, that’s just the way it is and I can’t change it.” Yes, some things about work aren’t changeable, at the core maybe that’s true, but how you approach your work and your work life most definitely can. Small changes can make big impact. Do you have a co-worker or boss you get in the same disagreements with or power struggles with? Do you need to continue fighting a battle that always ends in the same negative outcome? What’s pushing you to always go down that same path with that person? When I was in a mindfulness class with UMASS, one of my classmates shared with me a similar situation. She had a boss who, to her, was irrational in her expectations and how she managed her group. One day she required Action 1 and the next day reprimanded Action 1 and required Action 2. This classmate saw this useless struggle she was constantly engaging simply because she hoped that her boss would change and acknowledge her irrational behavior and validate my classmate’s viewpoint. My classmate decided to give up these arguments, in the end, she would just have to do as her boss requested any, doing Action 1 one day and Action 2 the next would always be the end result and her viewpoint would never be acknowledged. By making the decision to give up the battle between her ego and her boss’s ego, her stress level at work dropped. It was a choice she made to change her actions in a situation that would remain the same no matter what she did. Now, some may feel like they need to fight for acknowledgement and to be “right” in a situation like this and maybe some situations will call for you sticking to your guns and continuing in these interactions the same ways, but at least explore the possibilities of where you could make changes to improve your situation, regardless of winning the who's right battle. Pick your battles and don’t let your ego decide your path.
Finding my resistance and where it lives in my body has been a big help in helping me let go of things and situations and beliefs that just were more harmful than helpful. Resist nothing! What would life be like if you left it open to all sorts of possibilities? Think of all the things you could have experienced if you had said “maybe” instead of an automatic “No.” Give yourself some time to explore possibilities. Any reaction that is automatic should probably be set aside when you start out trying to listen to your body’s reactions, so you have time to feel into it, see how much you would like to pursue it or leave it for another time. Giving up resistance takes time, but it becomes your new habit. Try and see for yourself!