Today I’d like to share one of the key teachings on how to reduce suffering: acceptance and nonresistance.

These two practices can change one’s life from struggle and fight and resistance to accepting and even loving what is. Countless spiritual teachers have taught the idea of equanimity or neutrality or nonresistance, and it goes something like this.

We suffer and waste tremendous amounts of energy when we fight against life, against what is. Unfortunately, our world and culture teach just this. We are constantly judging this and fighting that and comparing and competing and not liking this person and not liking this weather.

Spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle says, “Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it.  Always work with it, not against it.  Make it your friend and ally, not your enemy. This will miraculously transform your whole life.”

Most of us fight against what is. We want to change that person or that situation. We distract from present moment pain and conditions. Life becomes a struggle. In truth, this is the nature of the egoic mind. It does not like the present moment and will constantly project into the past or future or use countless tools to distract us.

Now I am not suggesting we become doormats. Loving and accepting what is does not mean taking abuse or standing by passively as injustice is being done. Martin Luther King Jr and Gandhi knew this. They recognized that one must first let go of the inner conflict though, for our own peace of mind, but also to be effective in our activism. Again, when we fight against something from a place of resistance and separation, we give energy to the very thing we are fighting against, we burn ourselves out, and our activism life is short and ineffective.

So, we can use everything for growth. The neighbor who ticks us off, the traffic jam, the job we do not like. We can stop and breathe and accept what is, not run away from it—although in some cases we may choose to walk away from relationships or jobs or whatever. But first embrace the moment or person or situation. Take a deep breath and acknowledge and give thanks for the opportunity which you have bravely attracted to you for growth and healing. If we do not do this. If we continue to resist what life gives us, we will continue to draw to us similar versions of the same energy, whether it be a person or situation or whatever.

Author Jack Kornfield: “When we let go of our battles and open our heart to things as they are, then we come to rest in the present moment.  This is the beginning and the end of spiritual practice.”