If you’ve ever surfed, you know that in order to successfully ride a wave your body must, in a sense, become one with that wave. Rigidity and resistance will only launch you head first into the ocean.
Much is the same when it comes to meditation except you’re dealing with thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and emotions instead of giant waves. That said, if you offer resistance or rigidity to your experience, you are more than likely going to end up in a whole bunch of pain and fear.
Jonathan Foust pens this recent Yoga Journal post on using a meditation practice as you would a surfboard in the ocean to successfully navigate through tough emotions. According to Foust, most people get stuck moving through their feelings because of their resistance. However, by paying attention to one’s momentary experience and bodily sensations it’s possible to naturally allow and witness life’s unfolding.
Waves of Resistance
When the going gets tough, the tough may get going, but most of us sidestep unease by distracting ourselves with anger, numbness, work, or substances that temporarily relieve the pain. That’s because we’re well versed in resisting the present moment, especially when it’s thick with difficult or unpleasant things.
Often you may feel this resistance as a wave of sensation and emotion. Some waves are small and mildly irritating. Others can feel like tidal waves, overwhelming you in a roiling pool of dread, fear, and anxiety.
When you start to feel this resistance, try to stay with it and witness the inner turmoil rather than get sucked into it. If you can successfully ride the waves of sensation and emotion, you’ll arrive at a state of compassion and wisdom.
So how can you move from fear and anxiety to insight and freedom? The secret is paying attention to sensations and the feelings that accompany them. Each time you focus on your breath, each time you relax and listen to your feelings, you open yourself to the present.
Read more from Foust on using meditation to ride the wave of life here.