Lessons from the Mat: Meeting the Resistance

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.

10 comments to Lessons from the Mat: Meeting the Resistance

  • ildiko

    Sheryl, this touched me so deeply.. i loved your reminder of getting down onto our child’s level – literally, meeting him/her eye to eye..I had a dream w/ my Spirit-Son last night and the essence of it was that he was so vulnerable, yet so invincible, indestructible.. no matter how many mistakes I made, he was not destroyed, he was hurt but not crushed.. always wanting to e w/ me, full of peace and dignity, settled and calm, knowing that “It’s All Well”..
    This was the second such dream this week and I am so grateful. I asked him to send me a message, a sign, that he’s well, he’s forgiven me and he knows that my true essence always loved and still loves him and that my earth-being is simply still too clumsy to manifest the true love that I have inside my heart. This is so frustrating for us, humans, that we sometimes even give up..
    Yet, I love the feeling when I feel my IC, and manage to treat her w/ compassion and understanding. “Yes, it’s hard to be present and feel, being so vulnerable and “weak”, it’s scary and unfamiliar.. yet we need to practice more of this type of “strength”, this is where we are connected to Guidance, Safety, and this is when we are “invincible and indestructible”..

  • Nikki

    Thank you so much Sheryl. I needed this so much right now. Seems God keeps sending me the same messages over and over again and I feel so grateful for His patience as I try to learn the lesson. I am struggling at work and where we are in life in general. I love yoga and can easily see how I can apply all these ideas. Linda Popov speaks of something very similarly in her book The Pace of Grace and we practice the same thing with children in the RIE approach. How often I forget to do the same thing with myself! At work when I am trying to comfort a screaming baby and I feel like I am going to cry myself, I pray for patience and love however, yesterday I gave myself permission to feel the frustration and anger like you suggest in your Birthing a New Mother Program and it really helped! Thank you so much!

  • Kim

    Hi Sheryl – love this article on resistance! Are there times when it is important to honour our inner child…when it really is too much, and if so how do we know? Is it a question of guidance? Kim

  • Kim: There are absolutely times when you need to honor your Inner Child. It’s a matter of learning the difference between true need and something that can pushed a bit. As with an actual child, there’s a fine line between honoring and gently nudging when you know that she or he is capable of more. And that differs from child to child and from situation to situation. For example, many parenting experts will say that a child needs to sleep in his own bed by a certain again, while others will say it’s important to honor to follow the child’s lead. There are no hard and fast rules in parenting (contrary to what the “experts” say, just as there are no hard and fast rules when your Inner Child. And for a highly sensitive child, the honoring will have to be more attuned and there’s not as much wiggle room!

  • Vanessa

    Empathy and reflecting back to my toddler her emotions respectfully has been like magic for her. I love seeing her realize that she is heard and validated. And that was all she needed.

    • It’s been magic here, too. It never worked quite like this for my first child but for the little one it’s usually all he needs. And isn’t it what we all need…?!

  • Kim

    Thanks so much for this clarification Sheryl 🙂

  • Mary

    Dear Sheryl,

    Wow, this piece hit the nail on the head for me. I have never fully accepted who I am in the moment and have always been my biggest critic. I have always tended to look for others to come to my rescue since fear of the known and unknown have and still makes me its prisoner. My inner child deserves better than to be told you are nothing and will forever be nothing. I am a recovering alcoholic and what you wrote here can help me in my recovery. I am over one year sober and at times, I feel the process of recovery is just starting.

    At the age of 53, when most are thinking of retirement, I am working at a supermarket as a part-time cashier. Through decades of addiction, I never fully prepared myself for my future. That is when my biggest critic comes into play. Through decades of addiction, my inner child is right here since addiction stunts one’s emotional growth.

    I am working with a therapist and after reading this piece, I will have something to talk to her about in my next session. I thank you for writing it, Sheryl.

    Sincerely,
    Mary!

  • Adelina

    Dear Sheryl and all the anxious brides and grooms (-to be),
    I have been reading and reading this blog for over 2 weeks, and I cannot believe there is something that nails it so well anywhere out on the internet.Generally, if one looks up engagement anxiety, a plethora of material comes up on how you should breathe in and out and try meet up with friends – and just quit stressing.How superficial!I say this because obviously,there is so much more to engagement anxiety,and just like Sheryl puts it,it’s the murky underside of other issues we have not yet sorted out.I truly love this blog and so far I have gone as far as reading the posts from May 2010, cover to cover, I think there is so much to learn from all of them.I know it is early days,still,I find my nervousness and gut-wrenching feelings to be almost completely gone at times, and it is 100% due to everything I have read here.The only thing is,while having calmed down and started a journal,I am still trapped in the tendency to look for signs of loving,and even when I wake up next to my fiance, I find it hard to find the enthusiasm about him,the excitement of going out for a meal is very bland,I struggle to find him funny – before the engagement I used to laugh my head off to his crazy humour – and I can hardly connect to myself either.I am starting to notice a general disconcerting feeling with everything I see,hear and do.While I never ‘dream’ about the ex, mainly because he was partially the reason for my anxiety, I do have thoughts of comparing the stage of my relationship with my fiance to where it was with my ex back then:’Did I have the same lack of enthusiasm, did I start to die down in feelings by this time with him…?’.I almost search for signs that would show me any analogy between the 2 relationships.
    Has anybody felt like that?Sorry to write so much, it’s just that I can’t help chipping in.
    All the best!:)

  • Adelina

    Dear Sheryl and all the anxious brides and grooms (-to be),
    I have been reading and reading this blog for over 2 weeks, and I cannot believe there is something that nails it so well anywhere out on the internet.Generally, if one looks up engagement anxiety, a plethora of material comes up on how you should breathe in and out and try meet up with friends – and just quit stressing.How superficial!I say this because obviously,there is so much more to engagement anxiety,and just like Sheryl puts it,it’s the murky underside of other issues we have not yet sorted out.I truly love this blog and so far I have gone as far as reading the posts from May 2010, cover to cover, I think there is so much to learn from all of them.I know it is early days,still,I find my nervousness and gut-wrenching feelings to be almost completely gone at times, and it is 100% due to everything I have read here.The only thing is,while having calmed down and started a journal,I am still trapped in the tendency to look for signs of loving,and even when I wake up next to my fiance, I find it hard to find the enthusiasm about him,the excitement of going out for a meal is very bland,I struggle to find him funny – before the engagement I used to laugh my head off to his crazy humor – and I can hardly connect to myself either.I am starting to notice a general disconcerting feeling with everything I see,hear and do.While I never ‘dream’ about the ex, mainly because he was partially the reason for my anxiety, I do have thoughts of comparing the stage of my relationship with my fiance to where it was with my ex back then:’Did I have the same lack of enthusiasm, did I start to die down in feelings by this time with him…?’.I almost search for signs that would show me any analogy between the 2 relationships.
    Has anybody felt like that?Sorry to write so much, it’s just that I can’t help chipping in.
    All the best!:)