When I was living on Guam (which is where I’m from), I started meditating at home in my living room. I’d wake up early, before Eva and the kids were awake, and enjoy the quiet and soft light of the early morning. I’d just sit on the couch and pay attention to my breath, trying to learn a little about mindfulness.
This was never an easy habit for me, but it got more difficult when someone would wake up early, or I’d start later than usual and people would start waking up. I’d be trying to meditate, and a kid would wake up and start making noise, and it would disturb my meditation.
“Why do they have to make so much noise?” I’d find myself thinking, involuntarily. “It’s disturbing my peaceful meditation!”
Then I learned to turn to this feeling of resentment, this resistance to what was happening. I looked at this feeling, and I wondered about it.
The big breakthrough for me came when I realized: this is a wonderful thing, having this noisy child in my home. Sure, they’re making noise, but this doesn’t have to be a disturbance — it can be music, it can be a gift, a reminder of something wonderful I have in my life.
So I accepted the noise, and instead told myself, “Yay! I have a noisy child nearby!”
This turning point became so important as I learned to make habit changes and deal with changes in life in general. The noisy child became a symbol of things I was resisting — resistance as I did my habit, or resistance to anything in life.
Let’s say I was trying to form the habit of running: I would inevitably find resistance to the discomfort and want to stop running or not go for a run one day. This resistance would normally keep me from sticking to my habit, because most often we give in to this resistance. It wins almost every time.
But now I learned to watch the resistance. The resistance to the discomfort of running became my “noisy child,” and I turned to it and saw that it wasn’t that bad. In fact I could accept it. A little discomfort from running is acceptable once you loosen up on wanting things to be comfortable all the time.
Then I found a way to be grateful for this noisy child (the discomfort from running). It’s wonderful to have some discomfort in your life, because it reminds you that you’re alive! It makes the habit worth doing, because if everything were easy and comfortable, it wouldn’t be an achievement. And in fact, I came to enjoy the exertion of running.
I learned to do this for situations other than forming new habits: if I became irritated with someone, or angry at rude drivers on the road, or started procrastinating … I would turn to the noisy child I was resisting and find acceptance and even gratitude for it.
This practice has made me better at sticking to habits and happier with any situation in my life.
As you work on making changes in your life, see the noisy child in each change and find acceptance and gratitude for it.
Mission: Journal about resistance
As you do your habit and journal entry today, watch for any resistance. Or see the resistance you’ve had recently and journal about it. What did the resistance feel like? Is there a way to accept the thing you’re resisting and find gratitude for it?