A common metaphor for how we relate to experience is digestion.
When a certain experience is digested well, there is some clarity around my stories about it, an allowing of the experience as is and with kindness, and acting with some integrity from what seems most mature, wise and kind in the situation even from a conventional view.
When it is digested less well, there tends to be a resistance to the experience, a holding onto certain stories about it as true, and acting from less integrity. And in this case, the undigested experience will tend to come up again to be digested more fully.
It may come up when a current situation or event triggers the memory of it. Or when there is receptivity for it, for instance through allowing another experience (this one may come along, hoping to be digested as well), or when we are not able to distract ourselves from it – for instance at night in bed, while on retreat, or in nature for a length of time.
When a situation is digested well, it becomes a support, nourishment, guidance. Recalled, there is less need to attach to any particular story about it as true, and there may be gratitude and appreciation for it.
When it is digested less well, it may appear as a problem, a stumbling block, a hindrance. When recalled, there may be a need to attach to particular stories about it as true, a resistance to the experience that comes up around it, and other signs of a less-digested experience such as reactivity, compulsion, defensiveness, tension, reactivity, guilt and blame.
And recognizing this, those signs become a reminder to allowing the experience to be more fully digested, through allowing whatever experience comes up around it as is, with heart and kindness, through inquiring into beliefs I may have around it, and through acting with more integrity around it, for instance by confessing my delusion around it and asking for forgiveness.
- digesting experience
- digesting well, harvesting nutrients (allowing, inquiry, integrity)
- not fully digesting (resisting experience, fueling stories, out of integrity)
- will come back up to be digested (triggered by event/situation, or when receptivity)
A common way of talking about how we relate to experience is how well it is digested.
When it is digested well, I am able to harvest the nutrients from it. I allow the experience, as is, with heart. I inquiry into my stories around it, and especially those I take as true. I act and relate to it with integrity, from what seems most mature, wise and kind in the situation, even from a conventional view.
When an experience is digested well, it is recalled with less or no need to attach to certain stories about it, and with less or no reactive emotions. Any experience, digested well, becomes a support. It becomes nourishment.
When it is digested less well, I am not able to harvest the nutrients from it. I may resist the experience as it happens, and when it is recalled. I may fuel stories about it, and hold onto them as true. I act with less integrity.
The situation is recalled with a need to attach to certain stories about it as true, with some emotional reactiveness, and with the other signs of a less digested experience, such as compulsion, regret, defensiveness, blame and so on. Any experience digested less well becomes an apparent problem, a stumbling block, a hindrance.
Here, it will come up again to be digested. It may come up when the memory of it is triggered by a current event or situation. Or it may come up when there is receptivity, such as when a current experience is allowed as is, and this one comes up as well so it can be digested, or when we are not so able to distract ourselves, for instance while on retreat or out in nature for a length of time.
Trigger: Listening to an interview with a woman who is not able to forget any experience, and how the most difficult thing about it for her is to remember all the situations that was painful to her, and still is when recalled.