For most people who make the choice to change — whether it’s exercise more, lose weight, start a meditation practice, or really ANY type of change — there’s always a “tipping point” sometime within the first month or so… Will the momentum carry forward or will we start to lose steam?
Change isn’t always easy. In fact, most of the time, change is very challenging. Even when we want to make positive changes like losing weight or meditating more or increasing our commitment to exercise, we always meet with resistance.
Where does this resistance come from?
Well, it can come from many sources, both internal and external. But, mostly it is our own resistance that gets in the way. And, it’s not something to beat ourselves up about. It’s just human nature.
There is an aspect of our body-mind that the Chinese sages called “Po”. Roughly translated, it is our core survival instinct. It is that part of us that holds on to life at all costs, that is most active when we are under serious threat.
Letting go of old patterns and habits is a sort of “death”. Any change means that something is ending — or “dying” — and we are entering a new phase, an unknown area.
Our “Po” is trained and programmed to react strongly to the threat of “death” and “the unknown”. And, this is a good thing. But, it can sometimes be overly expressed, leading to anxiety and fear when we really have nothing to be afraid of.
This part of ourselves can be very subtle in resisting change. Sometimes we aren’t even aware of how we are sabotaging our own growth. Being aware that this tendency exists, and being on the lookout for it is a good first step to overcoming it.
Remember, this part of you isn’t something bad. It’s a very important component in a healthy, thriving mix of all kinds of qualities that work together to keep us in balance.
But, when we find ourselves resisting change and losing our motivation to change, we can be certain our survival instinct is playing a role. It wants to keep things how they are because, after all, it is SAFE to stay with what is known even if it isn’t 100% healthy.
According to the ancient Chinese Medical sages, the “Po”, or core survival instinct, is primarily expressed through the Lungs. The emotions it generates are grief, sadness, and feeling threatened. For all of these emotions, we are called upon to let go, to release resistance.
It is no coincidence, then, that the breath is what provides the key to overcoming grief, sadness, panic, and other emotions that keep you “stuck”. Letting go of old emotional, mental, and physical patterns requires that we keep our breath open, deep, and gentle. If we are resisting and feeling threatened by change, we’ll start to tighten in our chest, and our breath becomes shallow. We may feel a “pit in our stomach” which also blocks the diaphragm from moving freely.
When you begin to notice resistance popping up, when you start to notice that you are losing motivation to continue moving forward with an important change, stop for a minute and BREATHE. Breathe gently into your belly. Slow down. Breathe light and openness into that resistance. Let your breath create space and help you relax into the moment. You can do this while driving, while listening to someone talk to you, while watching TV. You can do it anytime, anywhere! And, it doesn’t cost a penny.
What you’ll find is that change becomes easier, and there are less conflicting thoughts and emotions blocking your path. You’ll find it easier to continue your reduced sugar diet, or your 5 day a week exercise plan. You’ll find that writer’s block start to lift, so you can continue writing that book you said you would write.
Whatever the resistance is, wherever it resides, your breath is the key to letting it go.
Read more about Successful Change – Keeping Your Momentum.
Chris Axelrad is on the BCCA Advisory Board and a specialist in hormonal, mind-body, and reproductive wellness using Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, Therapeutic Nutrition, and Mind-Body Coaching. Chris has a full-time practice, The Axelrad Clinic, and is currently the President of the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine (ABORM), a specialty board dedicated to excellence in holistic fertility care. He is certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) in Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine, and Chinese Bodywork. After receiving his Master’s Degree in Oriental Medicine in 2003, Mr. Axelrad completed extensive graduate and post-graduate studies not only in Traditional Chinese Medicine, but also Western endocrinology, psychoneuroimmunology, neuroendocrinology, nutrition, mind-body disciplines, and interpretation of lab results.