- April 16, 2017
- by Emily
Yielding to Change
Have you ever decided to make a change in your life only to find letting go more difficult than you expected? Maybe you need to end an unhealthy relationship or break a bad habit. Maybe you need to learn a new skill that doesn’t excite you. Or, you need to stop being mean to your spouse or avoiding your father’s calls.
You decide it’s time to make a change. You move forward to do what you need to do with the dogged determination our culture venerates. Depending on your tenacity and the strength of the habit, you either succeed or fail. Maybe you end the relationship but find yourself attracted to someone just like them. Perhaps you take your dad’s calls only to find yourself throwing verbal jabs.
The problem with approaching change solely through behavioral adaptation is that it doesn’t address the problem. What we do may seem to be the source of our suffering, but we do the things we do for a reason. No one wants to be a drug addict or a jerk to their husband or wife. We do those things because we have beliefs that drive our actions. Non-resistance is the key to allowing what resides beneath our actions to emerge.
“All suffering is resistance. The first step in healing is awareness followed by simply accepting what is through non-resistance.”
Non-resistance simply means allowing what is to be. Authentic and lasting change begins by allowing and acknowledging things as they are without our interpretation. This form of acceptance makes itself known in the absence of judgment. As we yield to what is, we find a higher level of understanding. We tap into our intuition in a way we cannot when judging or rejecting reality.
Non-resistance is not thinking it to death (rumination), a typical response to the understanding that something deeper is driving our actions. Some reflection can be helpful, but only if we make space to see what is really there. Mental activity is often more of a block than a source of clarity because we have been taught that the source of our power is in our thinking capacity. This is a partial truth. What makes us human is also our capacity to empathize and integrate our intuition and emotions into how we show up in the world.
Not resisting does not mean we do not actively make choices or exert effort. The effort just comes from a different place. Like a well-trained fighter or athlete, the energy applied is focused solely on what needs to be done and nothing else. We do not make declarations or run around telling the world what needs to happen. We do not judge the situation. We simply make the changes we need to make. When we discover the source of dysfunction to be resentment, regret, or denial, forgiveness is the path to authentic and lasting freedom.
Developing a habit of non-resistance makes forgiving much easier. Forgiveness is change. When we choose to forgive, we transform our lives in fundamental ways. We cannot change the past, but we can change our relationship to it. As we evolve—as we heal—so does the relationship to our memories and the emotional and mental conception of the people we have known.
Non-resistance is also a powerful way to live. Approaching life with what the Buddhists call a beginner’s mind manifests a much different world, one more grounded in possibility and beauty than a world where we begin by thinking we know how things are.
Change begins with yielding to what is. This is both a peaceful and scary experience because what is may have never been acknowledged. The impact of your parent’s divorce or heartbreak in eighth grade may be what makes itself known. Suddenly, we have the power to create lasting change by forgiving what needs to be healed. We try again to be kinder to our spouse or take that class, only to find joy and exhilaration in the process. Non-resistance is falling in love with life just the way it is and moving forward from there with grace and gratitude.