The Art of Non-Resistance

By practising complete surrender to the present moment, accepting both its pleasure and pain equally, we make friends with the psychological state of non-resistance. This perspective helps enormously when navigating through the day-to-day challenges of life, as it means we stop fighting everything that happens to us that we do not like.

Life is a 50/50 mix of pleasure and challenges. Only accepting the pleasures and rejecting the challenges means we would be spending 50% of our time in a frustrated, highly stressed state wishing that the challenges were not there. Doing this is not wrong, it is just that this mindset creates high levels of mental anguish and suffering.

We can alleviate much of this pain by not resisting life’s ups and downs. We do this by remaining psychologically and emotionally flexible, like long grass swaying in the wind; relaxed & supple. If the grass were too hard and rigid, it would snap. By remaining loose, the grass is able to survive by gracefully bending with the breeze and allowing the wind to do its thing. This going with the flow approach does not mean being passive, gullible and devoid of ambition; it means to sway in the direction of life’s wind to avoid unnecessary suffering. The grass says ‘yes’ to the wind and survives. So it goes with life and us.

This method of going with the flow is the art of non-resistance.

We can emulate this in our own day-to-day lives when something unexpected happens that challenges us. If we go along with it, acting as if we had personally invited the challenge into our life, seeing it as an opportunity to either learn something new or practice something we already know, then a ‘challenge’ suddenly becomes a window of opportunity for self-development. This perspective not only reduces much frustration but also makes the challenge seem less intimidating and scary.

We cannot always control what happens in life but we can control our response to what happens. Keeping this in mind, it helps to avoid saying to ourselves during a crisis, ‘I don’t want this’. Using a go with the flow non-resistant approach we instead say, ‘I accept that this is happening, what can I learn from it all?’

Whether we want a challenge to be there or not, it is still going to be there. So to save ourselves from frustration and misery, it is better for our mental health to just go with the flow and patiently wait for the crisis storm to blow itself out. We do not have to like the direction of the wind, it just makes our life much easier to accept that it is there and to do our best to flow with it as best as we can, swaying like the grass to avoid damage.

Keeping the weather metaphor going a little longer, who do you think has a nicer time, the person who looks outside, sees that it is raining and decides to spend the entire day indoors moaning about the rainfall?… or their neighbour who puts on a waterproof coat and goes for a long walk to a nearby wood to enjoy the smell of the damp earth and listen to the raindrops pattering upon the tree canopies? It is futile to reject or resent the weather, the weather marches to the beat of its own drum. All we can do is simply adjust ourselves to match the weather. The same can be said for our relationship with life’s various dramas.

It helps to not label a challenge as ‘bad’ as by doing this we subconsciously reject the experience, which will make everything far more uncomfortable as we now have that life challenge to process, plus a higher level of stress to deal with. This is because our body and mind sees the challenge as a threat due to its ‘bad’ label and responds by upping the stress hormones – negatively affecting our overall well-being. It makes more sense to instead class everything as neutral as this keeps our stress levels in check so we can approach navigating the challenge with a clearer head and better overall health, making the experience an easier one to manage.

Also, there is often an opportunity hidden within a storm (if we know where to look) that allows us to make the most of almost any unpleasant experience. During my second dark night of the soul, I was very poor and couldn’t afford to go anywhere as I had lost all my money. So instead I spent more time around nature, as it was not only free but also good for me. Instead of going out socialising I spent more time at home working on self-development projects that I had been meaning to look at for some time but had been always too busy. Yes, admittedly this wasn’t as much fun as partying with friends but it was actually much better for my overall wellbeing. I did my best to make the most of that very challenging situation, flowing with the direction of the wind, so-to-speak and it paid off, making me a stronger and wiser person.

If you remember anything from this article, let it be that by bending like the grass when the wind blows hard, makes life so much easier when a challenge manifests in your life. This simple shift of perspective removes a huge amount of unnecessary suffering from a situation that would be better handled with a clearer heart and mind. We all deserve less stress in our lives, practising the art of non-resistance provides that.