There seem to be many obstacles around that are preventing things from moving forward. I notice this within three major projects in the MA, in my daily life and in my practice at the moment. So what to do?
I am doing a lot of practice recently, in order to meet the commitment required for the annual training I am attending in India. While doing the practice I feel content and mindfully engaged and after the practice I feel joyful, carefree and light, which carries on into the rest of my day. I feel so much better physically and psychologically. What is strange is, that despite this I experience resistance and procrastination before I start.
As I have said in earlier blogs I have a pact with myself (who?) to exercise free will and do the practice I have planned long term, despite the thinking activity going on in my mind about all the reasons to change plans in the short term. I tell myself to stop thinking about it and just do it. So far this is working, but I sense a creeping subtle resistance.
The story of the resistance is about not being good enough to do this practice – this is for serious practitioners, not someone like me! It practically tells me I have a lot to do today, with work and family, I need to rush my practice and do less of it. The resistance is all about ‘ME’ and is underpinned by a fear of change – what might I become? What would be the consequences for ‘ME’. I often don’t see the thoughts. I just feel a heavy sense of demoralisation, but I don’t have to buy into this – I am learning to refrain.
Buddhist teachings that state that we can break the cycle of our suffering by refraining from reinforcing negative egocentric habitual patterns are reinforced by neuroscience, which seems to be indicating a lack of free will, but a possibility of ‘free wont’, i.e. refraining.
Rob Nairn refers to us humans as ramshackle collections of habitual patterns. Our own set of habitual patterns determine our thoughts and actions, but when we are Mindful and see the habits playing out there is the possibility to refrain from engaging with them. If we can refrain and just be with, we create the conditions for insight to arise – a self-displaying of any underlying psychological material.
We also have the power of intention, determining where we want to place our focus – on those habits we wish to grow – the habit of practice, for example.
I use the principle energy follows focus – I take my focus and thus my energy out of my resistance to practice by refraining from resisting and just being with what’s left, curious about what might unfold. I place my focus and my energy on doing my practice, strengthening the habit. It seems to take a long time and a lot of practice to change these habits – but worthwhile none the less!
Rob Nairn says that our practice is the most important thing we can do in our lives to help ourselves and others. Over the years, I have come to agree absolutely, but still there is resistance!
This morning in my practice, as I was resisting, I was reminded of the climax of the final Lord of the Rings movie (my favourite). Against all the odds Frodo has made it past the evil armies of Mordor to Mount Doom to destroy the one ring. He collapses in exhaustion and all seems lost. Then he lifts his head and a look of defiant determination passes over his face and he gets up and keeps going to save the world from an almost inevitable age of ruin. Remembering that look of defiant determination inspires me and spurs me on. If Frodo can keep going, so can I!
So this is our answer to the obstacles we encounter in our practice, life and work! Keep going in the direction of our valued based intention, refrain from engaging in those things that don’t support our intention and fuel this with our motivation – a joyful determination to benefit ourselves, those around us and the wider world.
If all else fails, think of Frodo – I am lucky in this respect as I wear a gold replica of the one ring. Sadly, it doesn’t make me invisible!
Come on, we can do it!
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