Resistance and Resilience

My personal near-daily practice is relatively formal compared to the sort of rituals I imagine other people do on a near-daily basis. There is generally a cleansing stage (a shower optimally or a thorough hand and face washing and teeth brushing otherwise) and a preliminary cleaning stage (sweeping the ritual space). I change into my ritual clothes because I have those now. Everything is ready to roll because after I finished last night’s worship I clean the implements and get them ready for use. I have a playlist that I use to get in touch with more elusive Powers or to focus my intent if I’ve been absent for more than several days and need to catch Their attention again. Offerings of light and incense are followed by short prayers and, ideally, some japa meditation. The whole thing can take anywhere from about 10 – 30 minutes depending on exactly what I’m doing or longer if I turn up the formality another notch. Spending 30 minutes in my main ritual isn’t all that long to me and I always want to do moremoremore. I *like* my daily practice a great deal and it only takes a couple skipped days before I seriously miss it.

All that said, I can be super resistant to getting anything done. My personal goal is to do one thing every day. This one thing can be my ritual practice, it can be yoga, it can be a meditation session, it can even be just writing in my magical journal or even just pulling up a devotional bhajan on YT and focusing on that for a few minutes. I’ve had to get a little creative with my approach to daily work because there are all kinds of reasons why spending 10 – 30 minutes in front of the altar or in meditation or doing yoga or even writing in a journal is simply not going to happen. Sometimes I’m really sick and literally cannot physically stand up. Some days sitting up is hard.

But there are days, like today, where everything is about as optimal as it ever is but where I still can’t get through the resistance. I don’t know where this resistance comes from and I know I’m not alone in experiencing it. I know lots of other devotional types struggle to maintain the kind of frequency or intensity their practice requires in order to progress (and/or to please the Powers and/or to maintain your health on all levels, and/or etc. etc. etc.). This resistance happens even when we want more than anything to be at the altar.

I can hear some people saying, “But WHY am I so resistant? It’s really important for me to understand!” I can hear you saying it because I’ve said it myself, lots of times. I still say it sometimes. I also know that (in my case at least) demanding understanding is at best an excuse and at worst a justification for not going forward anyway. Understanding will only come with effort. There are no shortcuts in this. If you (I) want to understand your (my) own self-generated obstacles to action, then you (I) have to engage.

There are times when deep psychological work is called for. This might not be one of them.

My action is not predicated upon my understanding; the gradual unfolding of personal insight comes only after prolonged and persistent effort. 

Resistance to practice is common, more common than you might ever imagine. Resilience is also common, because a resilient practice is what results from engaging with your own resistance. One of the most significant and profound things I’ve learned in my spirit work and devotional practices is that this work will sustain me. It will keep my focused and balanced and healed on a deep, very subtle level. It will teach me and continue to teach me so long as I continue to show up to class. I keep falling down and playing hooky and breaking the pattern but for the most part I’ve kept coming back. This comforts me.

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