In acceptance, we see the world as it really is.
In resistance, we expect to change the past.
Acceptance sounds like an easy concept to adopt. It takes little effort to feel spiritual when life unfolds according to our desires and wishes. We may even say we feel in tune with life and affirm all is unfolding in divine order and all is right in the universe.
Yet, as soon as things start to take a turn in another direction—not necessarily a wrong direction but a different direction—this concept becomes very challenging!
Most of the time the circumstance we are fighting against has already transpired. We didn’t get the promotion, our relationship ended unexpectedly, the stock market tanked, or we received an unexpected medical diagnosis. Then we rapidly transition from victor consciousness to victim consciousness.
Resistance and the Rise of Suffering
In these times, which can last hours, days, years, or decades, we receive unmistakable signals about the importance of acceptance. Those signals originate in a consciousness of resistance and are experienced as mental and emotional suffering.
In the light of day, with a peaceful mind, we can see how crazy it is to be railing against something that has already happened. On some level, we must think that, if we stay angry enough or become obsessive about what we perceive to be wrong, it will change.
Of course, it will not change. No matter how much we suffer, we can’t go back and change the past.
Our ego may be screaming at us that we deserve to be angry and to hold a grudge. How often have we mentally rehearsed what we will say to that person with whom we are upset? I can’t wait to see that person again and give them a piece of my mind! The truth is, when we are in a state of resistance, we have already given away our peace of mind.
This doesn’t mean we don’t work to change what we see as wrong or unjust.
To ensure we are on a path to bring about positive change, we need to keep our energy positive. Let’s not drain our energy by being in denial or fighting about what has happened. Rather, we can use our energy to motivate us to bring about a new outcome in the future.
What we are for builds us up, what we are against tears us down.
Resistance as a Spiritual Practice
To be clear, before we can be in a state of acceptance, we have to release our resistance to whatever circumstance triggered resistance in the first place. In fact, we can use resistance to our advantage as a spiritual practice. If we perceive resistance, we can free ourselves from it.
When you no longer are resisting present experience, you no longer have a motive to separate yourself from it.
—Ken Wilber, No Boundary
Resistance is not just how we sometimes deal with big situations in life. It’s a habit that shows up in all things, big and small.
Recently, I got very angry and felt tremendous resistance when the washing machine load became unbalanced and wouldn’t complete the cycle. Why me? I hate this machine! The difference this time was that I noticed the resistance.
I laughed at myself for giving away my peace of mind to the washing machine!
Rolling Back the Stone of Resistance
I invite us all to become aware of what we are resisting. The longer we hold on to resistance, the stronger it becomes. The sooner we stop resisting, the easier it is to release it and accept reality. In this state, we reclaim our peace.
With peace of mind, we can now decide the best response to the situation that has arisen. How do we choose to view life?
To be in a state of acceptance is to see the world as it really is. To harbor resistance is to fight with reality and attempt to separate ourselves from it.
Resistance is like being entombed. We are in darkness and cannot clearly focus on right action.
Acceptance is rolling away the stone of resistance with peace of mind illuminating our consciousness. We can then go forth into the light to do what is ours to do.