Ten Ways to Change Your Behavior Immediately #7: Be Mindful

The most common response to encountering resistance is to try harder, feeling a host of negative emotions about the situation, and retreating into thoughts that cycle repeatedly with no resolution in sight.  By now you may have experienced this resistance so often that it feels like is just the way the world is, that it is a necessary part of working and couldn’t be any other way.  I want you to pause for a moment and ask yourself: how do you know that you are actually experiencing resistance?

The phenomenon of resistance or effort is ultimately a sensation that resides somewhere in your body.  When we get wrapped up in our head we are diverting our limited attention towards our own unproductive thoughts – valuable attention which could be directed elsewhere.  By merely trying harder we are trying to push away that sensation, we are wishing that our subjective experience were different in that moment.  When you next notice yourself feeling resistance, I want you to pause for a moment.  Take a deep breath.  Close your eyes.  Focus your awareness onto the sensations in your body that you have identified as resistance.  Sit with that sensation for a time and observe it.  Identify exactly what is going on.  When you notice that your attention has drifted, gently release whatever thought arose and return to the sensation.

Once you have observed this sensation, you may notice it has different qualities.  Sometimes you may turn your attention to the sensation and it doesn’t actually appear to be there, in which case you can resume what you were doing without conflict.  Or maybe this sensation oscillates back and forth, sometimes it is present and sometimes it isn’t – and in fact, this can happen within a fraction of a second!  How weird, right?

The great thing about observing your resistance from the outside is that it won’t seem inevitable anymore. Once you can say, “Huh, I seem to be resisting this,” you’re more than halfway there.