Challenging Resistance: ‘I can be at peace with this’

This is a post I wrote especially for ProHealth’s Inspirational Corner and first appeared there about 5 weeks ago

When we are at peace, our body is in the most relaxed state possible, a state where it can focus its resources on digestion and healing. This is a key focus for both my own self-healing efforts and for my client work: aiming for as much peace as possible; aiming to spend as much time as possible in a state in which the body can direct its resources to trying to heal itself.

Finding peace isn’t easy when you have a chronic illness. There are so many moment to moment challenges to our peace, such as pain and frustration.  But one of the things that I have learned is that the biggest threat to our peace isn’t necessarily what is happening to us, it has much more to do we how we respond.  The great news is that how we respond to things is something that we have some control over; something that we can learn to change. With practice we can learn to be at peace with whatever might happen to us, if not instantly, at least with a little bit of work.

One key concept in learning to be at peace is the idea that resistance brings tension. Any time we resist anything that is happening we are adding to the load that our body has to deal with in that moment. For me, remembering that I have the power to minimise that load, is a great motivation for aiming to let go of my resistance.

The first big turning point for me over 20 years ago was when I learned to accept that life had to be lived differently for a while. This acceptance was the first thing that brought some improvement to my health; it showed me how much my response could influence my well-being.

There are so many day to day challenges to acceptance though, for example when our pain or fatigue are worse than normal, or when we have to miss out on something that we really want to do. It’s impossible not to have any kind of negative reaction to these kinds of things, but what we can do, is work on our resistance so that we find our peace again a lot quicker.

For example, it’s understandable to feel frustrated by a set-back that means you can’t do as much today as you could yesterday. But often, we add to our tension by focusing on not liking being in that situation; not wanting to be worse today; not wanting to feel frustrated. By accepting that this is the way things are in this moment and it can’t be changed; acknowledging frustration as a normal and acceptable immediate response; removing our resistance to our frustration and what caused it, we can choose to have some control over minimising our tension. We can aim to convince ourselves ‘I can be at peace with this’. We can aim to keep our body in a healing state for as much time as possible.

This can be a very effective way of dealing with pain too. Often our resistance to our pain adds to tension in our body which can add to the intensity of our experience of that pain. If we can learn to let go of that resistance, the pain will usually diminish in intensity because we’ll be removing the intensity that’s cause by our response. With enough practice, if we can really find peace in pain we’re actually helping our body send its resources to dealing with it too.

To find peace in pain though, we can’t just ignore it. Ignoring it is a kind of resistance (I don’t want to be conscious of this experience).  A difficult but powerful skill to learn, is how to pay attention to pain with acceptance and curiosity; to allow it to be just as it is in the moment; to convince yourself ‘I can be at peace with this’… ‘I am at peace with this’.

What do you most regularly resist? Can you teach yourself to be at peace with it?

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