July 23, 2012 § 19 Comments
When I began a meditation practice years ago, I struggled to clear my mind of the random thoughts that kept rattling around in my head. When do I have to leave for that appointment? Why haven’t I made travel plans to see my daughter? Did I buy the wrong kind of coffee pot? Thoughts banging into thoughts. The more I tried to shut them out, the more they came crashing in.
In time I came to understand that resistance was a mistake. I began to let the thoughts come- and then go- like clouds passing across the sky. This understanding changed meditation for me. The thoughts still came, of course. But I ceased resistance. I let them come; I let them go. And soon my mind cleared.
But acceptance is not just a tool for meditation. Often we find ourselves beset with grief, anger, regret, or other negative thoughts. If we try to push those thoughts out of our head, we usually fail. Worse yet, our failure to evict the negative thoughts just makes us feel weak and more unworthy.
When negativity wraps its arms around me, I try to treat those feelings like the random thoughts that interrupt my meditation. I do not try to think myself out of the darkness; I accept it. And my non-resistance seems the surest way to hasten its departure. It is as though those terrible bone-crushing feelings somehow feed on my resistance. Denied their sustenance, they slink away. Not right away, but surely and soon.
We often equate resistance with strength and acceptance with weakness. This is a mistake. It takes more strength to calmly accept what clutches at your soul than it does to thrash away in resistance.
Let them come, let them go.