Pain x Resistance = Suffering (the case for throughput)

For the past nine months or so, I’ve been seeing a therapist specializing in mindfulness. Perhaps the best decision I’ve ever made.

One of the things we spend a lot of time talking about is resistance – everyone has their own quirks and issues, and that’s one of mine.  The tendency to hit the brakes when faced with something difficult or unpleasant.  Set it to the side, avoid, wait.  Obviously, this is a bad tendency, and only serves to make things worse.

One idea that has come up is the relationship between resistance and suffering. Suffering is the ultimate mindstate we are looking to avoid.  There’s this equation which has really stuck with me :

Pain x Resistance = Suffering

In other words, it is possible (and typical) to start with a relatively painless situation and then amp it up, and multiply the ultimate suffering by resisting it.

I can’t tell you the number of things in my life that I have resisted and avoided which then ultimately ended up being no big deal. And the ultimate suffering was more a result of the resistance the the pain itself.

The mindfulness approach to resistance is to instead turn and face whatever thing your avoiding. Just recognize it and be with it. I’ve thought of this before as “living in the fall line“.  The opposite of living in a mode of resistance.

Another way of thinking about it is as throughput. Moving items (projects, emails, bills, whatever) through, rather than letting them like up. Resistance is like arterial plaque. Throughput is the result of keeping things healthy and flowing.

It’s a good feeling.

   

  • Sebastien Latapie

    I really like that equation! It so simple yet makes this concept so clear. I definitely amplify the suffering by putting things off and delaying – this link you shared makes that relationship so obvious. Thanks.

    • thanks. yes somehow thinking about it this way really clears it up for me too