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When faced with resistance, our first instinct is often to power through it, believing that speed and force are the keys to progress. But what if, instead, we chose to slow down and uncover the hidden magic that emerges when resistance is met with a slower, mindful approach?

In this episode, we'll explore the profound influence of slowing down, both in our personal journey and in achieving our goals. We'll uncover the secret of sacred moments of resistance and how they can be harnessed to create a more meaningful and harmonious existence.

Topics Covered

  • The instinct to power through resistance and its limitations
  • The alternative of slowing down as a transformative response
  • Unveiling the beauty and lessons within moments of resistance
  • The power of embracing and savoring the sacredness of each moment
  • Strategies for integrating slowing down into daily life and work routines
  • The profound impact of slowing down on personal growth and self-discovery



Welcome to the Zen Habits podcast, where we dive into how to work with uncertainty, resistance, and fear around our meaningful work. This is for anyone who wants to create an impact in the world and cares deeply enough to do the work. I'm your host, Leo Babauta, creator of the Zen Habits blog.


Hello, my friends. I'm glad to be here with all of you and my podcast. I've really been enjoying the process of creating these podcasts. I'm just having this conversation with you and having you give me feedback. It's been a really rewarding process creating this.


Today I'm going to talk a little bit about slowing down. And the magic that happens when we can slow down specifically with our resistance. I'll tell you a little bit about what I've been going through lately, and the resistance that I've been facing. And then tell you how I've been working with that, with the magic of slowing down.


What I noticed is, since the retreat that I held in North Carolina recently, it was maybe a couple of weeks ago as I record this, I gave myself some spaciousness and allowed myself to just take some time off after the retreat. It takes a lot of energy to hold space for people at a retreat like this. And so usually a little bit changed in some way, but also, I need some rest. I need to recover from that. I've learned to schedule some downtime for myself after that, including a massage, but also just days with doing nothing or very little.


I gave myself that space, but then after that, I started trying to get back into it and I was really having a hard time and I was resisting all the important stuff and all of the structures that I create for myself. It wasn't that I was doing nothing, but I also was just facing a lot of resistance towards almost everything. The only thing that I was really doing regularly was meditating, and I was behind on emails and a bunch of other work tasks and then some big projects.


I was resisting and resisting and feeling like I needed to like, stop resisting. I needed to move through that so that I could start moving faster again. So, as I looked into this and as I did, got some coaching around it and usually when I'm facing all of these kinds of resistance, I'll reach out to my coach, my teacher, other people who support me.


And as I started to look at this, what I realized is that I'm in this slowing down period after retreat and that I was resisting slowing down. I wanted to be going faster and I wasn't really allowing myself just to be in that space and really find what slowing down had to teach me.


What I've been doing since then is just sitting in the resistance and noticing like what does this, if there is some kind of lesson in the slowing down, what does it have to teach me? I realized there was a number of things, just really that I was, running really fast before because of fear. I was wanting to churn, churn things out. And that slowing down really had that fear start to come up because I wasn't going fast.


The second one is that I'm afraid of helplessness and hopelessness and powerlessness. These are the things that I don't want to feel. I've been trying to be with that more, but slowing down really has me staying with that. And then as I really sat with that helplessness and the resistance, I realized is that there is, if I just feel into my being, which is something we've talked about in a previous episode, I feel into the space around my heart, for example, what I notice is that it's just a tenderness, and it's just, it's not like there's anything wrong with that tenderness. It's just a really beautiful tenderness that I could just sit with and be with.


And as I did that, I found real beauty and even deliciousness in that tenderness and helplessness and fear and resistance. I found a lot of love and like loving kindness for myself. But just a real, actually the phrase that I use is caramelization. It feels like my being, my soul, if you believe in souls, my being on a spiritual level is just feeling really caramelized, which is really tender and sweet. So that was actually really beautiful.


What I've been practicing since then is to sit with it every day, just as a sitting practice. And then, beyond that, I've been using that sitting practice to help me move through the resistance. I'll talk a little bit about how I've been doing that, but really the real lesson here around resistance and slowing down.


Actually, let's talk about the lesson first. When we have resistance, we want to push through it. If you've ever tried to push really fast through water, for example, something that has a lot of resistance, air, has some resistance, but not a lot, but water has a lot more resistance as you try and push yourself through water. If you just try and force it harder, it actually increases the resistance.


Slowing down really allows you to just, first of all, just allow the resistance to not be so thick. It's actually a little bit spacious when you slow down the resistance is still there, but it's not like you're trying to push and coerce yourself through it. What I noticed is that there's really something beautiful in that moment, a sacredness in the moment of resistance. If I sit with my resistance, I can still move through it. I can still actually take action, but I'm not trying to push myself through it. I just let myself slow down, be with the resistance, feel what there is to feel in the, being part of my body.


There's something really beautiful, magical, tender, sweet about that. And then, as I do that, first of all, that's amazing in and of itself. To me, it tastes almost like eating. I make these vegan chocolate chip cookies for my wife and kids. Sometimes I just made a couple of batches recently and I can't resist them. I'll just tell you that they're on the counter on a, looking delicious. They're going to go in my mouth. And so, the taste of those cookies is actually a caramelized brown sugar.


And so, for me, that's the experience of slowing down and being with my resistance is there's like caramelized brown sugar kind of quality to what shows up for me. Now that might be different for you. Another caramelized kind of thing is toasted marshmallow, but it's just like this sweet, like toasty kind of quality is what I'm experiencing for you. Maybe it's going to be completely different. Maybe you'll feel, you'll taste berries or notes of citrus or whatever it is.


I'm being a little lighthearted here with, how we might experience something like its tasting, wine tasting, or, whatever you might want to taste, coffee tasting, beer tasting. It's the same kind of thing, like there's an experience if we slow down and really be with our resistance, what we find is actually it's just really beautiful being to experience, a moment to experience, and we can experience our being as well.


For me, there's a magic in just in that, just experiencing and enjoying that. Also, something really beautiful happens as you're able just to move through this kind of sacred moment of resistance. Move towards the thing that you're committed to creating without needing to be about, am I good enough? Am I going to fail? Am I going to be helpless? Am I going to drop out all the balls and let people down or whatever it is that we're afraid of. This is really just moving through it.


First of all, because moving through it is amazing. And second, because there's something that we are really committed to creating, that we really want to create, that means something to us. And as I move through this resistance, I might also remember the why do I care about this? Why am I moving towards this thing that I want to do? Let's say I wanted to write a blog post or an email or something like that, write something. I can actually just, let myself, remember, reconnect with the vision that I have, the possibility that I have the why that lights me up. I slow down and I start to remember that. And then I start to take the first steps. Start to open up the program that I'm going to use to write. Start to write some things. Feel what there is to feel so that I can express my heart in the writing.


This is a very different experience than trying to just push myself through the resistance really hard and make it make the things happen. This is actually how most of us take this kind of thing on. It's like we're resisting, so I just need to force myself. That misses out on so much of this experience.


I want to talk about a mechanism that I've been using lately that helps me move through the resistance. It's a two part mechanism. First part is, end of each day, I make a declaration, two declarations actually, declaration would be I'm saying I'm putting a stake in the ground that I'm going to be doing this by this time.


The declarations that I make would be tomorrow I will do this and I will also do this by the end of the day. So, two things, I'm going to do this and this by the end of the day tomorrow. And I make those declarations to a member of my team and my coach. And so that way I have two people holding my declarations, my intentions. I will do these by the end of the day and I do that like for today when I send that to them that will be for tomorrow or if it's a Friday, it would be for Monday. I'm only doing weekdays. Five days a week. I send them these declarations by the end of the day.


So that's the first mechanism. I have these declarations and I write them down and I make sure that tomorrow I will see those. And then tomorrow what I do is I set up some sessions. Focus sessions, you might call them. What I've been calling them lately are sacred sessions. Sessions would be something like 30 minute or an hour and a half block. Whatever I need for the declarations that I made. So, I'll set those up here. I'm going to do this here and do this here. I have two sessions a day. If I need more, I'll do more, but those generally, that's what I've been doing is two declarations. I'm going to do this and this by tomorrow, and then two sessions.


And in those sessions, the way that I've been working with these sacred sessions is that I let myself sit with my being, slow down before I just dive into the doing. I just sit with my being, and I just feel Oh, what is there to feel right now in my being? I might close my eyes. I might lay down on my bed or my couch or just sit somewhere. I just feel what there is to feel that caramelized being, and I just let myself experience it. I might experience some resistance, which is just a word for some of this being, some of the things that we're feeling, and I just let myself feel whatever there is to feel.


Then I start moving towards the thing that I want to do. So if I've committed to writing something, I'll start to be like, okay, let me open the program, still feeling my being, let me, write a title, let me write down a couple of notes, and then I might be the balls rolling by now, so I might actually just do the thing.


But it always starts with a sitting with my being. Let myself slow down at the beginning and things are to pick up at some point and I'm now I'm full on in work mode but I don't just launch into it because what I found is when I set a session and I don't have this slowing down at the beginning I actually resist the whole session and I don't do it. I'm giving myself permission to really start slowly. In fact, I start with some stillness, and then I move towards the beautiful thing that I want to create.


This is what I'm calling right now, for myself, a sacred session. And I do two of them a day to match up with the two declarations I made the day before. Then by the end of the day, I also sit some more. With the being, just the caramelized being. I don't need to do anything at that point. Just sit some more. This, when I say sit, it could be two minutes, it could be five, it could be ten, it could be twenty, it could be more. But I just sit. Sit with the being to be with and really just enjoy that, the deliciousness of it. And then I make two declarations for the next day. I just repeat, rinse and repeat.


That's what I've been doing. And what you might notice is there's something powerful about the declarations and the sessions that I'm creating structure, but they're not like, oh, I need to do this, otherwise I'm going to suck, they're more just like, these are what's going to call me forward into this, the sacredness of my being and allow me to slow down.


The slowing down and the structure are combined in a way that feel really amazing to me. I wanted to share that with you. You don't have to follow that structure or those mechanisms, but just really letting you know that there's a way to combine the slowing down with the actual like moving myself forward in a way that feels really good to me and isn't driven by fear.


I wanted to share that with you, but the real thing that I want to share is the power of slowing down what that's like.


Okay. That's what I've got for you today. I really want to encourage you to slow down and slowing down doesn't necessarily mean just with your being or just with your resistance.

There might be slowing down in your day. There will be little pockets of slowness. You might slow down with what you're eating that delicious vegan chocolate chip cookie that you take a bite of and just really save. Or, oh my God, it's amazing. And that slowing down with your cup of tea or coffee with whatever it is that you're doing. Slowing down in your conversations, slowing down with someone who you're being with, it's really slowing down and really appreciating the sacredness of that moment.


There's a real power and magic to that. We take our days for granted. We take our being for granted. We take others for granted. This is a way to actually bring some awe and wonder and sacredness to our lives slowing down.


Okay. Please enjoy that. In your life. I will talk to you later. Thanks everybody.


If you haven't already, please subscribe to this podcast in your favorite podcast app. If you found this episode useful, please share this podcast with someone you know, who cares deeply. That would be really meaningful to me. And, if you'd like to dive deeper with me into this work, please check out the blog at or get in touch at [email protected].


Thanks for listening. And I hope you'll join me every Wednesday for more episodes of the Zen Habits podcast.

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Music composition: Salem Beladonna & Robrecht Dumarey

Editor: Justin Cruz

Post-production: Diana C. Guzmán Caro & Amanda Goddard