Photo by Eugenius D80

Ancient Eastern Philosophy has taught a lot about the concept of non-resistance. This view has been deeply rooted as a cultural way of life as can be most popularly seen in the martial arts for example.

Most internal martial arts such as Tai Chi, for instance, are built on this principle of non-resistance and ‘action without action’ (Wei Wu Wei) or effortless doing. The idea behind this principle of effortless action is that when you don’t resist or work against the energies around you but actually work or flow with them, you become aligned and in equilibrium in such a way as to obtain a ‘soft and invisible power’.

The adept martial artist knows how to use the power and momentum of his opponent to overcome him with out exerting any force or power.

Non-resistance is like the nature of water. The strength of water lies in its ability to flow around obstacles and in its suppleness. Its force is soft yet powerful.

On the other hand, resistance is friction, an act of opposing, blocking or impeding something. It generally implies working against natural forces as opposed to working with them.

Here are a few points which highlight this negative aspect of resistance to give you an idea of how it might affect your daily life:

• Resistance always involves using energy-dissipating action. Did you ever realize how much effort and energy is needed to resist something as opposed to accept it? This is in line with the Eastern philosophy of effortless action.

• It makes us block the flow of life’s energies. Notice yourself when you are passing through a phase of resisting or opposing something such as an idea or part of your life. Your energy is always on the low side. You are out of balance and moody.

• As an effect of the above stress builds up. You start experiencing inner conflict and anxiety.

• Resistance makes us unreceptive to new ideas and intuitions. It blocks our intuitive channels.

• It sabotages our creativity, mental clarity and focus

• It stops us from appreciating the moment.

How to learn to flow without resistance:

• Avoid trying to always be in control. This is a cultural habit more common in Western cultures. We want to be constantly in control of our life, work, relationships, finances, etc. We feel that if we lose control, we lose the race, we lose our life. Of course the opposite is true. When we learn not to control everything we embrace life with more power and consciousness.

• When something unwanted happens to you, be aware of your resistance towards it. Shit happens. Calm down and try to shift your perspective to one of acceptance. Ask yourself “How can I use this?” or “How does this affect the bigger picture of my life?”

• Be open to your feelings without criticizing yourself. We all have an internal critic installed which pounces on us when we perceive we did something out of line. This has the negative effect of making our feelings shy away. By allowing more of those feeling to flow out, we encourage the practice of non-resistance.

• In relation to the above point, when you are having an idea, let it flow without trying to classify it, reason it out or evaluate it. We sometimes tend to over-rationalize ideas which effectively has the effect of promoting resistance to it.

• When you are practicing awareness, meditation, relaxation or simply appreciating a beautiful moment you will undoubtedly be bombarded with a thousand distracting thoughts that divert you off course. Don’t try to resist or control anything. Just acknowledge them and let them flow. The very act of resisting trips your circuits and conscious thought kicks in.

• When you are listening to something new that diverges from your opinions and background beliefs try not to resist it or deny it. Think of expansion and diversity of opinion as being healthy, strong and life affirming.

• Do not deny or resist failure. Recognize it and accept it.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Gilbert Ross

    Thank you Marcel for the great comment and the references.

  2. Marcel Kwedi

    Thanks for such a beautiful short article!
    First, I never thought of Tai Chi as a nonresistant martial art.
    I always thought of aikido (of Stephen Seagal) as the only non-resistant
    fighting technique.
    So thanks for mentioning.
    Second thanks for including non-resistance in the meditation context.
    But although I think that the thought flow has to be let go during
    the meditation, I have found it helpful to reprogram the feelings associated
    with the event.

    For example, after meditating for a quarter, one starts to have
    flashback about a very traumatic past event. Just
    letting the event replay itself while keeping one’s peace
    is important. But more important, one can reprogram one’s feeling
    by repeating to one’s self: “I am happy” or “All works for good” or
    “I’m loved”, or whatever appropriate “reverse” good feeling might
    be appropriate.

    This way the traumatic event will not be traumatic anymore.

    Thanks for the article.

    If any reader wants to read more about non-resistance, here
    are some good links:

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