Overcoming the Resistance of Lethargy



Lethargy can be a force of resistance to “right action”. If there is a presence of lethargy, it’s difficult to follow the inspirations, within you, for action – it’s like your body is not being co-operative to your mind/thinking. You need to be free of the mindset of struggle-based living, where you are moving from a place of fear, lack and inner disconnect, leading to misaligned/mindless/counter-productive actions, but that does not mean that you choose a life of detached inaction, or lethargy, as the other option. Letting go of struggle does not imply that you buy into the imbalance of inaction or lethargy. Action is an integral part of physical living, and it’s also the nature of life-energy to be in “movement” towards new growth and expression, it’s just about ensuring that your actions are in the direction of your natural expression, rather than they coming from a place of lack/fear. However, to execute “actions” you need to be free of the resistance of lethargy. An affinity towards lethargy makes you less co-operative to your life-stream’s intelligence, and thus you are no longer in a state to actualize your inner inspirations, desires and calls for growth.

A lot of spiritual people misunderstand the pointer of “letting go” as some excuse towards inaction. You can see them holding on to the concept of “surrender” as a defense for their inaction or lethargy. Of course, there is a period, during the phase of release (the phase of letting go of past accumulation, what I call phase 3 in this post – awakening, transcendence and the return of focus) when there is no real energy for active involvement, and there is a desire for some isolation and additional rest, to deal with the inner transitions involved during the release. During this phase (of release) it’s required to let go of the mindset of forcing yourself into undue action, and just allow your body’s desire for rest, and your being’s desire for some space of isolation, to allow for inner connection. However, once this phase comes to an end, it’s possible that you continue to cling to the mindset of “letting go” as a means to not return to a state of “involvement” required for you to start living your expression – the phase of “return of focus” (what I call phase 4) is required after the phase of release, and in many cases it has to be a conscious choice on your part to sense this pull in your life-force towards expression/involvement and become aligned with it by finding freedom from the resistance of lethargy.

Finding inner freedom is a primary step

Some of us keep busy out of a fear of “inaction” – in this case the activity comes more out of a fear of being inactive or a fear of feeling unproductive, rather than from a place of inner freedom to live your expression. Finding inner freedom from any form of fear is the primary foundation needed to live your natural expression – this includes finding freedom from your fear of inactivity. Whenever your movement comes from a place of fear, you will always enter into some form of struggle-based living. It’s very important to understand this point. This is the reason why a phase of “release”, where you let go of the momentum/grip of fear, is required before you can start living your natural expression. If you try to make yourself “active” without first releasing the momentum of mental/emotional fear, you just end up in a cycle of struggle where you have to constantly combat your inner resistances (created by fear momentum or ego-force) along with the resistance of lethargy.

It’s not about using “action” as some strategy to run away from your inner conflicts and fears – there are many people who are “blindly” active, like busy bees, who have no inner connection, and hence their actions are misaligned, struggle-based and counter-productive – their activity becomes a mask that keeps them from facing their inner fears or conflicts. So it’s not about entering into some blind strategy of using “hard work”, as a means to compensate for your inner conflicts, to override the resistance of lethargy – a blindly created discipline of hard work is not the solution, it can easily just become another “mind strategy” to avoid facing the inner conflicts.

The first step is always to find inner freedom by “letting go” of being driven by fear, delusions, blind conditioning, inner conflicts, emotional pressure and a strong ego-force – hence the phase of “letting go” (what I call phase 3 of awakening) is a required pre-requisite to develop true inner connection and freedom from the grip of mental/emotional momentum. It’s important to understand that when you are going through this phase, it’s possible that there is no real energy for a lot of active involvement with the outside, and it’s also possible that you naturally desire a lot of rest due to the fatigue created by the process of inner release – this is not “lethargy”, this is just a natural requirement for some isolation, rest and space of inactivity. You have to allow for this phase to get done, so that you are free of the momentum of past accumulation (including emotional clearing) which becomes the ground for you to live from a place of inner connection.

Hopefully, you can understand that it’s not a “black and white” deal, where you simply try to combat lethargy with hard work while being driven internally by the force of fear and conflict. Inner freedom is required as a primary step to connect with your natural expression, and then you need to consciously allow this expression to take shape by letting go of the hold of lethargy in you.

Falling for a spiritual defense of lethargy

A lot of spiritual teachings mostly talk about this phase of “letting go” (phase 3) but very few actually talk about the next phase – the “return of focus” (phase 4, the phase of living your expression freely). The attitude of lethargy can come in as a result of going through the phase of “letting go”, especially if one lacks the understanding of the dynamics of this process – it’s just something that happens naturally as a result of going through this phase. What’s dangerous is the fact that going through this phase of release causes you to feel a sense of “inner freedom” (where you are free of being moved by fear) which can lead you ignore the call of “expression” in your being, and defend your state of lethargy, because nothing really perturbs you anymore (feeling-wise).

The truth is that in the state of inner freedom nothing really disturbs your “inner peace” (I call it the state of unwavering peace), and this can make you feel “invincible” in some way and it can cause you to start ignoring your call towards expression by stating that “nothing matters” or some philosophy of that kind, developing an attitude of detachment, not wanting to “involve” yourself anymore with physicality or any active expression per se. This is when lethargy can really start setting in, and you can start supporting this lethargy by looking at it as your freedom to live at “ease” – the only question you need to ask yourself is if you are being authentic to the call within you towards growth.

I mentioned in the previous post – light and dark nature of conscious living – that one of the dark natures of conscious living is the inevitable call towards a “responsibility”, to an expression, that’s going to serve more than just your personal agenda for entertainment or enjoyment. It’s not just about sitting and enjoying the bliss of the unwavering peace, and the sense of inner freedom, while ignoring your call towards growth and responsibility, by making statements like “nothing really affects me” or “nothing matters from absolute perspective”, because it’s possible for you to do so, because you have the inner freedom/power to do so. Lethargy can easily set in, after the phase of letting go, when you have an inner freedom to ignore your expression, since “fear”, or some deluded thinking, is no longer a motivation, or force, that pushes you into action. Only your authenticity, to your inner calling, stands as the factor that allows you to stay true to your continued growth (in expression).

(You can read on the “how” of reaching inner freedom in these posts – reaching a place of total allowing, the power of allowing, the basis of inner freedom, releasing mind momentum, faq on the state of allowing)

Overcoming the physical and mental resistance of lethargy

To start with, it’s possible for you to be “inactive” (or lethargic) due to the presence of a high momentum of fear in your mind as well as in your emotional space (as fear energy), for example, the fear of failure, fear of criticism and fear of being judged. The way to find freedom from the resistance of this mental/emotional momentum of fear is to go through a phase of “release” consciously through the state of allowing, which is what is explained in the posts, that I’ve mentioned above, regarding the “how” of reaching inner freedom. If you try to push against this momentum of fear you will just have a very hard time maintaining the flow of your actions – it’s highly effective to first invest some time in letting go of the grip of this momentum, in you, by going through a phase of release. Your inner conflicts/fears could not only be causing you to be “inactive”, slow and unproductive, they could also be causing you to move in a direction counter to your natural expression – so releasing this inner momentum of mental/emotional fear is primary.

Once you start sensing the presence of inner freedom in you, it’s indicative that you are coming to an end of the phase of release (phase 3). At this time, it’s required that you start letting go of any spiritual identity that you may have developed, and also let go of all the pointers that were helpful in the “phase of release”, because now it’s time for you to start a different journey, a journey towards a “return of focus” to start living actively. Living your expression requires you to incorporate your brain, your heart, your body and your being, from a space of inner wholeness – this means that you have to incorporate your ego’s perspective along with your inner wisdom and perspective of wholeness. In this state, your activity will include expressions of personal enjoyment/entertainment/well-being as well as expressions of service-based productivity (aligned with your aptitude) that become a form of “contribution”. If you try to be “egoless” (disconnecting with your brain’s preferences and heart’s desires) you cannot move fully into the phase of “return of focus”, you will just be stuck in being detached.

Some thought patterns, in you, that can hinder your “return to focus” are as below

- Since nothing really matters from absolute perspective, why get involved actively with anything

- I am just being true to my ease and comfort, it’s not lethargy (ask yourself if you are really being authentic because there is a huge difference between staying true to your natural desire for some space of ease/rest/comfort and using that as an excuse to give into extended lethargy)

- If I get involved with physicality I might go back into unconsciousness, so I will just sit and keep meditating

- I don’t want to pursue anything material in nature (a typical spiritual belief system), hence I will shun/ignore all the materialistic desires in my mind

- I just want to hold on to my space of “nothingness” (which is just a spiritual imagination to start with, since life inherently is always “alive”)

- There is “no self” so I will not make a conscious choice towards living my preferences (the concept of “no self” is another spiritual ambiguity, the truth is that any life-stream/being has a sense of self/ego, thus has an individuality that cannot be done away with)

- Whatever has to happen will happen, hence I will let go of any involvement with this world (this “concept” of surrender can become a very strong excuse to defend lethargy in oneself)

These mental stand points can easily become a defense of lethargy, resulting in a life of stagnation. Spirituality can give you the freedom to be detached, but it can also become an excuse to deny involvement, and lead a life of lethargic inactivity. It’s important to bring awareness to the presence of such “thought patterns” in you, and start consciously letting go of being identified with them – you may have no motivation to do so, because these thoughts do provide a “relative truth” and also act as a refuge to keep you in a state of “feeling good/noble” about your inactivity, but, if you are truly authentic with yourself you will know that such spiritual defenses are not aligned with your natural/inner calling for growth.

Lethargy is also a “bodily resistance” – it has a physical element to it. So even if you are mentally (and emotionally) free of resistance, your body can still be a source of resistance. This is mostly because the body, including the brain, works on the principle of “habit”, so when lethargy becomes a habit the body develops an affinity towards it. One can also develop “habits” that reinforce this lethargy, such as excessive drinking (alcohol), over-eating, smoking (drugs), mindlessly watching TV, habitual gaming (video games) and internet addictions (like an over-dose of chatting, youtube-ing, watching porn and various other avenues of “addictive” entertainment out there – the keyword being “over-dose”, entertainment is a requirement, it only becomes a cause of lethargy when it goes into an imbalanced over-dose).

It’s easy to fall into addictions when you develop an inkling for lethargy. The only way to release this affinity for lethargy, from the body, is to consciously not give in to the pull of lethargy when it arises in opposition to your expression/inspiration. Also, if you stop defending your lethargy, and see it for what it is, you can consciously stop identifying with its pull and thus find freedom from it. Of course, this is not easy when you have a strong momentum of mental/emotional negativity present in you, hence going through a “phase of release” is primary. When you don’t have to deal with the momentum of mental/emotional resistance, it’s much easier to overcome the body’s resistance to activity (or its affinity to lethargy), however, it’s still a conscious choice that you need to stay true to – this choice is part of conscious living. When the resistance of lethargy goes out of your body you will no longer have to make a conscious choice about it and your body naturally feels more “co-operative” to living your action-based expressions.

When you are free of the resistance of lethargy and are also free of the mindset of struggle-based living, you will find yourself working actively along the lines of your natural expression. You won’t find work as some “evil” to deal with, rather it would be something that you look forward to, including your “chores” – there will also be the element of “inspiration”, creativity and originality involved in your work, even the most routine ones. This state allows for a balance between your desire for ease/rest and your expressions of activity/action.







26 Comments

  1. abet

    Great article but i don’t understand the connection between lethargy and falling into addiction

    1. Sen Post author

      Abet, lethargy can stem from a mindset of depression (sense of meaninglessness), boredom, over-indulgence in entertainment (imbalance in joy) and fear of facing inner conflicts ,and most of the addictions also stem from the same reasons. So lethargy and addictions can fuel one another, lethargy can lead to addiction and addiction can re-fuel lethargy – just doing a habit, unconsciously or mindlessly(even if it involves movement), out of a fear of change, is also part of lethargy, where you just give in to the momentum of a habit.

  2. Matt

    Glorious. It’s like it was written for me.

    1. Matt

      I just have one question. I am really starting to gain a personal understanding of the release/ return to focus phases, but how will I know when the excuses I’m making for inactivity for release begin to be excuses for lethargy? I do not want to be a solitary “spiritual man,” I have a thirst for many new experiences but I need to gain the stability that you call an inner wholeness first.

    2. Sen Post author

      Matt, this post was just about a pointer – there are times when we can mis-perceive inner freedom to be the freedom to not be authentic with oneself – for example, someone who feels that he/she has inner freedom to be free of guilt and hence feels that its okay to over-indulge is mostly just cheating oneself. Only your own authenticity can be your guide. When we start taking refuge in a certain “idea” of freedom, and use that as a excuse to not be authentic with ourselves, that’s when we end up trying to delude ourselves.

      It’s true that during the journey towards inner stability, there can be a phase of low activity to allow for inner connection. And if you are not holding on to any “ideas” about spiritual living, you will naturally sense the inspiration within you for expression, you will not suppress the return of focus phase that naturally follows the phase of release. The question of “how will I know” can only be answered by the truth that you can always know if you are willing to be authentic, if you know you are being honest with yourself, and not clinging to some idea as a form of defense to avoid the change of growth.

  3. IG.

    U mentioned let go of any pointers as well! But I’m constantly repeating to myself let go…will ever the day comes when there’s going to be nothing to hold on to! Is that the moment of inner freedom, and balance?

    1. Sen Post author

      IG, “letting go” is a pointer, it’s not a defense mechanism, or a method of escape. The practice of allowing is simply a logical way to release a mental/emotional momentum by not suppressing its presence in you, while also not being identified with it – suppression and identification end up fueling the momentum. When you are simply open in your being, to allow these forces to arise within you, without fighting them or fearing them, they are bound to release/dissolve. Don’t use it as a means to look for escape from a place of fear, you need to understand the pointer is to develop the fearlessness to be “open” in your being to what arises. Once you truly develop this inner fearlessness, you won’t need to hold the pointer of letting go.

  4. Poornima

    Sen, can you say something about synchronicities? Since a time I’m having them a lot. I take them to be signs that things are aligning and working out smoothly towards manifestation of things or even just saying that I’m going in the right direction.. But when I don’t see anything actually happening, but just a calmness, is it that it is just taking some time? (regarding things that will come to us auto when we are allowing and aligning). I’m really curious because they’re happening more than frequently.

    This lethargy thing, I seem to have stumbled here. This is the pattern that i have – ‘I am just being true to my ease and comfort, it’s not lethargy’. I suppose it’s overdoing it.

    1. Sen Post author

      Poornima, positive synchronicity are an evidence of your inner alignment. You may want to explore if you feel a sense of inner freedom regarding your desires or if there is a strong sense of lack that you feel in their absence from your life. If this sense of lack has a strong force in you, it’s indicative of a lack of inner freedom. You would need to be authentic with yourself to sense if there is this feeling of lack. This lack can stem for many reasons – having a deluded idea about reality and thus having an sense of extra-ordinariness about the desire (not aligned with the dark nature of it, while looking at the light nature alone), a sense of inferiority which the mind feels can be assuaged once the desire manifests, a fear of uncertainty which causes you to look for security through the desire manifestation. If you observe such a pattern in you, you would need to bring awareness to it, no longer be blindly identified with it, thus allowing this pattern of thinking to reduce in momentum.

      As for lethargy, you would just need to use your awareness to detect whether there is a natural “inactivity” which is present (when its not the right time for a certain action, or because it’s part of a phase of inner transition) or if the inactivity is caused by sense of detachment. Only you can know for sure, and you as long as you are authentic with yourself, you will be able to see the resistance if its present.

    2. Sen Post author

      Poornima, positive synchronicity are an evidence of your inner alignment. You may want to explore if you feel a sense of inner freedom regarding your desires or if there is a strong sense of lack that you feel in their absence from your life. If this sense of lack has a strong force in you, it’s indicative of a lack of inner freedom. You would need to be authentic with yourself to sense if there is this feeling of lack. This lack can stem for many reasons – having a deluded idea about reality and thus having an sense of extra-ordinariness about the desire (not aligned with the dark nature of it, while looking at the light nature alone), a sense of inferiority which the mind feels can be assuaged once the desire manifests, a fear of uncertainty which causes you to look for security through the desire manifestation. If you observe such a pattern in you, you would need to bring awareness to it, no longer be blindly identified with it, thus allowing this pattern of thinking to reduce in momentum.

      As for lethargy, you would just need to use your awareness to detect whether there is a natural “inactivity” which is present (when its not the right time for a certain action, or because it’s part of a phase of inner transition) or if the inactivity is caused by sense of detachment. Only you can know for sure, and you as long as you are authentic with yourself, you will be able to see the resistance if its present.

  5. Russell W.

    Your writing is amazing! Cognitive reasoning with spiritual understanding of the nature of the human condition. A knife, thru, to the core of truth,

  6. Courtney

    Man, you really have a thing against spiritual living. As if you seem them as elitist, or you are an elitist. ?

    1. Sen Post author

      I don’t find any form of living as “wrong”, because I understand everything has a place and value in life – nothing feels higher to me, and nothing feels lower. I am simply interested in leading an aware life, or conscious living, which allows me to find certain understandings about reality, and having gone through the spiritual path myself I understood the pitfalls surrounding it as I grew more aware, pitfalls that can hamper conscious living – I share these understandings through this blog.

  7. Shiv

    I think the stages of awareness of fear, letting go and finally return to focus as you describe them are not necessarily linear but cyclical ( or rather a spiral ) gradually moving from the grosser to the more subtle. It’s possible that in a few people’s cases it may have been so clear cut that they suddenly became aware of the entire universe of their psychological fears in one shot, then let go of the whole thing and finally returned to focus never to have to return to the process again. But in my personal experience it’s been a cycle like the seasons that has been operating for a number of years. There are periods of suffering followed by periods of great release and realization followed by a renewed focus and commitment to life. And each time there is a finer degree of refinement, a subtler experience of the self and a humbler relationship with life. But the refinement continues. And the cycles continue. Even fear becomes more refined, more subtle almost unrecognizable compared to its previous definition but it still operates. I hesitate to approach it with any sense of finality, as if the cycle has some natural end. Maybe it does.

    In my experience it’s not fear that is the problem but my relationship with it. My fear is largely circumstantial and there are as many versions of fear that can be experienced as there are circumstances in the universe. So to be free of fear would be to imply being free of all circumstances which are infinite in number. However, what I find is my relationship with fear has evolved to a place where rather than a hindrance it has become a useful tool in my experience of life. Rather than making me recoil in horror it encourages me to take a closer look at aspects of my psyche and conditioning that may be so subtle and embedded that they are easily overlooked. Without fear there would be no way for me to be aware of any of these habits or conditioning.

    Lethargy during the release phase is also very much motivated by fear. Because you see the detachment has allowed us to escape or transcend the torment of the reality we once lived but it hasn’t changed it. After the hibernation, when I decide to re engage in life, things are just how I left them. The broken pieces are still lying there waiting for me to rebuild it. Its not as if when I come back the world has magically rebuilt itself. And so a subconscious fear that is aware that life, be it illusion or not, still has to be lived, keeps us in hibernation just a little longer.

    But like I said, the cycles are not a problem, just like the seasons are not the problem. Through the cycles comes a deeper realization of the true nature of the self. The self that is unmoving, unchanging and unhindered by change. Recognizing that core aspect within our beings which is eternal, impersonal and purely innocent allows for space, silence, balance and a more effortless flow to enter into our experice.. It is with a gradual trust and connection with this aspect of our being that life unfolds.

    The possibility that this entire story is only a work of divine imagination can strike us during any chapter in the course of the book, but this realization deson’t mean we put the book away. Only the reading of it becomes a much more enjoyable and effortless experience.

  8. Anonymous

    Nice

  9. stonez

    Hi sen. Thankyou for your help through a difficult time. I have na few questions.Firstly my mind momentum has slowed some but i still have days where it is very active. There is a part in your blogs where it says that a negative thought will only last half an hour. The other day my mind negativity went on all day. I allowed as best i could, being drawn in from time to time but it kept returning all day.Im noticing my negative ego alot, it seems different to my mind as it wants to solve and analize my thoughts. i try to let that go aswell. Im confused over what to do about it. I read something of yours about seeing through the patterns of my thinking but to do this means to give some form of attention does it not. Another article says to let the mind sort it self out. Im not fearing my mind as much but my observing has made me aware of different aspects of it and how it justifies and tries to repair the past but no patterns as such and no core to where negative belifs came from.I know it can take time but you say three months aprox to have a mind with less pull but its been longer than that and there still seems like alot there. Also having a mind thats aware of thoughts, ive been this way since i was a child and have found it to be distracting, particularly in social situations

    1. Sen Post author

      Stonez, forget about the “approx times” I give, it’s only a reference not a rule, I would not give an approx time it’s just that it can make people think in terms of years. I have no idea where I mentioned a negative thought will only last half an hour (if I did, it’s definitely wrong), if that was the case it would be great. In reality, depending the momentum your mind has, it can create a bout of negativity for as long as it has the energy to be awake. Seeing through the thoughts is a pointer to use your awareness to see through limiting/narrow thinking patterns, the unconscious state is to simply buy into the mind’s thoughts, the conscious state of being is to see its limiting ways of thinking and no longer identifying with it with respect to those patterns – I hope you are not looking for a “technique” and are able to understand that pointer of “conscious living” is to find freedom by understanding the dynamics of negativity as well as using practices likes the state of allowing to release the momentum of mental/emotional accumulation. Seeing through a thought does not fuel it, it’s only when you are unconscious lost to a thought or are unconsciously fearing a thought that its momentum gets fueled – don’t be afraid of being awareness to a certain thought pattern, to see through its false beliefs, narrow thinking and misguided conditioning. Conscious living is not a “dumb” state of just letting go “passively” all the time, letting go is only required to release the momentum of accumulation, it’s also about bringing awareness/understanding to see through limiting ways of thinking. If “letting go” was all that was needed for conscious living, there would no need for any other pointers on understanding the dynamics of negativity. You can read the recent post – deepening in inner freedom – for more understanding

  10. Ben

    Sen, I have been a follower of your articles for sometime now…Things got so much better when after sometime of reading and practicing …. I got so much happier and I kinda forgot how I got ti where I was.. I stopped reading the articles and even forgot about ” space of being”.. Now I am back because the negativity has come back and it’s even worse this time. I thought I was ok only to realize mind noise and negativity crawling back harder than ever… Sen, I am back, and this time no more playing and no more being lost in the bliss! please help me in where to start aging ok… I am really suffering… it hadn’t been easy these last few weeks…thanks

    1. Sen Post author

      Ben, the phase of release happens in “layers”. It’s not that you are regressing, it’s just that you are going to another layer of release. The understanding you have about the practice of allowing, connecting with your space of being, is all that’s needed to ride through a release in a conscious manner. You can re-read these posts to refresh your understanding.

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