In the spring of 2015, I had a meltdown in a yoga class. Out of the blue, while in the middle of a sun salutation, I was taken over by terror and anxiety. I sat down on my mat to take a breath. It was then that I began to feel a terrible pain in my neck, and the entire left side of my face and arm went numb. I started to freak out. I left the class, called my husband and scheduled an emergency appointment with a doctor.

Within 24 hours, I had undergone multiple MRIs and blood tests. Waiting for the results to come back was one of the scariest times of my life.

When the results did come back, I was at a loss. There was no diagnosis for my physical symptoms and, ultimately, the doctors diagnosed the episode as a panic attack. This experience, however, seemed to make no sense. At this point in my life, I had an amazing and supportive husband, a thriving career, a healthy body and a loving family. I had spent a decade growing my spiritual practice, healing old wounds and deepening my faith. And I was finally free—or so I thought.

In the following week, I managed to pull myself together, but I was still deeply concerned about why this had happened. My logical mind couldn't figure out what went wrong, so I turned to my meditation cushion for inner wisdom and guidance. Coming out of the deep silence, I began to write in my journal. Words fell onto the page: "This is your resistance to love and freedom. The lingering darkness within you is resisting happiness."

I was taken aback by what I had written. Could all of this serious physical pain really be my resistance to love? For years I thought that once I worked through my past wounds, I'd be happy and free. Once I established a sense of security, I'd be happy and free. And once I had deepened my spiritual connection, I'd be happy and free. Through my commitment to personal growth and a spiritual path, happiness and freedom did set in. My outside world began to reflect my positive internal condition, and life began to flow beautifully. And then, like clockwork, the presence of fear within me did everything it could to resist the love and light I had grown to rely on.

I looked closely at this resistance in order to understand and acknowledge its presence. After a lot of exploration, I came to understand that it's our resistance to love that keeps us in the dark. This resistance is the reason we stay stuck in patterns that keep us from thriving. You may have found that you regularly experience relief through meditation, prayer, positive affirmations, therapy or any other type of personal growth, only to sabotage that great feeling with a limiting belief, negative comment or addictive pattern. This experience continues to occur because the moment we lean toward the light, the darkness within us resists it.

Even when we make a commitment to love and happiness, we often find it hard to give up the fear we've grown to depend on. We give purpose to our pain, believing struggle and strife are necessary to success or lasting joy or a meaningful life, and we feel safe in a state of conflict and control. We carry an unconscious belief that in order to stay alive, we must hold on to our protection mechanisms, no matter how great love may feel.

You may be doing all you can to create freedom, connect to flow and release your fear-based habits, but it's likely that the moment you feel some sense of relief, you're blindsided by the shadow of fear that dwells below the surface. You may not have recognized this pattern before, but when you do, you can begin the journey toward freedom. That's because the primary reason for our unhappiness is startlingly simple: We are resistant to being happy.

Sigmund Freud picked up on the phenomenon of resistance when many of his patients were not getting better. One night, in a dream, it came to him that one of his patients wasn't improving because the patient did not want to improve. This dream led him to dedicate much of his practice to analyzing that resistance, which became a cornerstone of his treatment.

Unlike Freud's patient, you made a commitment to awaken from fear and get in sync with love the moment you opened this book. This commitment is massive. However, the presence of fear within you will do whatever it takes to keep you stuck in pain and darkness. This fear is the root cause of all our problems and feelings of disconnect. To truly say yes to the love of the Universe means you have to look at your resistance and give up a thought system that you mistakenly identified as safety, security and the foundation of your life.

Universal lesson: To be free we must acknowledge our resistance.

We must recognize that while we have a loving miracle mind-set within us that wants to be at peace, we also have a wrong mind that says, "I don't want to be free. I don't want to give up judgment. I don't want to release control."

The most profound way to practice releasing resistance is to see clearly how we don't want to let it go. When we accept that we are addicted to fear, we can let ourselves off the hook for anything that occurred in the past and for the detours into fear we will continue to make on our spiritual paths. We can forgive ourselves for not doing things perfectly, and we can forgive ourselves for holding on to old patterns. Honoring this shadow side of ourselves is the way to heal our resistance. The metaphysical text A Course in Miracles says, "We must not seek for the meaning of love but instead seek to remove all the barriers to love's presence."

In my case, the moment that I accepted my fear was the moment my panic subsided. By embracing my fear and surrendering my desire to be free, an even greater pathway to freedom opened up to me. Today, I have faith that the loving energy of the Universe is available to me all the time.

You too can have this freedom. As you embark on the healing prayers, practices and meditations in this book, what will serve you most is to look at your fear with love and decide that it's not a thought system you want anymore. Making this decision will clear the path to happiness.

Releasing your old thought system and welcoming in a new one takes practice, but it's a lot less "work" than you may think. The practice that will serve your highest good is the practice of surrendering to the love of the Universe. Prayers, affirmations and exercises can support you in surrendering your fearful thoughts and energy to the right mind's grace. It's important that you don't overthink each practice. Just do it. You may find one or two practices that really resonate with you, and you may choose to repeat them more often. The perfect pathway will become clear, and you will map out the journey to freedom from fear. The more you're reminded of what you want, the more you'll embrace your capacity to receive it. The practice of being on a spiritual path isn't about being the best meditator, or the kindest possible person, or the most enlightened. The practice is about surrendering to love as often as possible. That's the goal. So, keep it simple and know that the more you put in, the more you'll get out. As they say in the 12-step communities, "It works if you work it." So, I ask you today to embrace your resistance, forgive yourself for being inconsistent with your practice (or for not having a practice at all) and surrender to the guidance that is before you. Begin daily with an open mind and you will receive what you need. All that's required is your willingness to release whatever blocks you from living in harmony with the energy of love. Remember to remain open to new ideas; be patient and trust that the Universe has your back.

The Universe Has Your Back This adapted excerpt comes from The Universe Has Your Back, by Gabrielle Bernstein, who is also the author of Miracles Now.


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