Working with Resistance

By Tergar Meditation Community • 3 min read


The wrong side of the bed

It happens to the best of us. You don’t intend to sweat the small stuff, yet you wake up in a grumpy mood, or a plan you were looking forward to gets canceled, and you’re abruptly flooded with disappointment. Is there a way to work with these resistant feelings as they arise, without waiting for that time you have set aside specifically for meditation?

Oh no!

Most meditation traditions, and also most Buddhist teachings, address these very questions: how do we work with life? How do we work with our resistance and turn it into openness? The reason we struggle so much in general is, in large part, because it’s so difficult for us to be mentally flexible with whatever comes at us, especially if it doesn’t feel great. We dig in and recoil, with a feeling of, “Oh no!” Resistance is the basis for a lot of the issues that we have, when we’re basically not willing to let ourselves be open to a given situation. You could even say that resistance is what causes us to be anxious, or to be frustrated, disenchanted, or whatever it might be.

Space and spaciousness

The main point to remember is that a fundamental quality of awareness is spaciousness. You can imagine it as literal space, outer space, with all the events, thoughts, feelings, and circumstances of your life arising and dissolving in that space like stars, planets, and galaxies. The nature of space is that it’s able to accommodate everything that arises within it. No matter how many blazing supernovas, colliding asteroids, or suns burning out it might contain, space itself is never harmed. Likewise, resistance is one of the things that arises within awareness, but awareness is the bigger picture. So it only follows that to the degree that you identify with the various changing, moment-to-moment ups and downs of your life, you’ll feel that resistance. And to the degree that you can touch into the quality of spacious, accepting awareness, resistance is naturally dissolved. Whatever comes at you will be workable and flexible and, most importantly, you’ll see the situation in its proper perspective.

Any kind of monkey

When you recall this spacious quality of awareness, if you’re a little bit frustrated or grumpy one day, then it’s fine. It’s just what’s happening . . . the mood that monkey mind woke up with that day. The way to work with these blips of resistance is to remind yourself again and again, in and out of meditation, that awareness is spacious enough to accommodate both a grumpy monkey and a happy monkey.

“Resistance to change puts us at odds with reality, and this creates never-ceasing dissatisfaction.”

– Mingyur Rinpoche –

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About the Author

By Tergar Meditation Community Team

Tergar Meditation Community supports individuals, practice groups, and meditation communities around the world in learning to live with awareness, compassion, and wisdom. Grounded in the Tibetan Buddhist lineage of our guiding teacher, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, our online and in-person programs are accessible to people of all cultures and faiths, and support a lifelong path toward the application of these principles in everyday life.

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