Resistance: The Great Multiplier
Last Thursday, I taught my first class at a yoga studio. I can't help but wonder at what point I will stop feeling like an imposter in my own life. At what point do we internally realize our ethos and accept that maybe, just maybe, we are everything we say we are? After 200 hours of training, teaching yoga at the business school, and leading 1.5 hr yoga sessions every Saturday to a group of Syrian refugee women, one would imagine that I would start to identify with the title of yoga teacher. Yet, I still feel apprehension, for I want to give my students everything that my yoga teachers have and continue to give me. It is with immense gratitude that I think of my yoga teachers and how they have transformed my life- and it is with hyperawareness to the responsibility I bear by assuming the role of yoga teacher that I plan my yoga classes.
For my first yoga class, I planned a lesson the day before. And that morning as I led the first flow, I went off-script. See, there was an equation I could not get out of my head. Resonance. A senior in the business school, I often feel that there are two parts of myself that compete for space in my consciousness. One part of me reads finance books for fun and gets pumped talking about industry disruption and the future implications of blockchain. The other side gets breathless talking about how meditation changes the neuroplasticity of the brain, teaches yoga, and is a 5-month old vegan. That morning I was reading the book The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion, and I wasn't expecting to find an equation. The Econ-loving part of myself perked up.
The equation was Suffering = Pain x Resistance. Pain is fixed. We cannot control what happens to us. Life may bring us things that we perceive as painful. However, resistance to these events amplifies our suffering. It's a multiplier. If we strongly resist our pain, the consequential suffering is greatly maximized. But this multiplier can also work in our favor. By the fundamentals of mathematics when we reduce our resistance to 0, suffering also goes to zero. We are in control of our suffering because we choose how we react to pain. Thus, the magnitude of suffering (and joy) we experience depends on how much we resist. In our decision to accept our lives or to avert from reality, we create our experienced reality. When we choose serenity, without judgment and resistance, our suffering dissipates.
My voice, earlier wavering, grew strong as I further explained this concept. My excitement seeped into my voice- I was so pumped to share this insight and finally, I had a medium. For me, knowledge has always been liberating. A voracious reader, I escaped in books and freed myself through new mental models and words to explain the world around me. It is true that the normal layperson does not (and probably should not) have the time to read 100 books a year, so maybe this is where I could step in. Dropping little bits of knowledge and stories that I have read. A sieve. Filtering through the information out there and doing what I could to deliver insights in an absorbable and approachable way.
I teach again tomorrow. Now I have an 8:30 slot on Wednesdays all of my own. A space to fill. I vow to show up with all of myself and send forward the teachings I myself have received. For we can still be mindful when the mind is full. Maybe, even more so.