A great little video of Adyashanti talking about the difference between resisting and fully allowing experience. (Thanks to Sean for mentioning it to me!)
In my experience too, there is a big difference between almost and fully allowing an experience.
If it is allowed 98%, there is still some identification with resistance, pushing it away, escaping, wanting it to go away. So there is a sense of getting closer to it, which makes it more intense, yet resistance which makes it very uncomfortable. In a conventional sense, it only makes it worse.
But if it is fully allowed, as it is, as if it would never go away, there is a shift, a release out of the whole dynamic of resisting and resisted, of a split within form where I am identified with a should and something else is what shouldn’t be there.
And this goes not only for what our personality usually does not like, such as pain, sadness, anger, frustration and so on. It equally much goes for what our personality tends to like, such as joy, bliss and passion.
In both cases, there is an identification with a should, and in both cases there is drama and discomfort in the impermanence of it, either when something that should be there goes away or doesn’t come at all, or something that should not be there comes or stays. And in both cases, our identification is firmly with stories and within form.
When our experience is fully allowed, there is a release out of the drama and the struggle with it. And this release also helps us notice the quiet bliss that is always there within any experience. The bliss of existence itself, of awareness, of this awakeness which is inherently free from everything so allowing it all.
It seems that the shift can happen a few different ways.
The pain, grief, joy and so on stays more or less the same, but there is a release out of the drama, and a noticing of the quiet sweet bliss that is inherent in experiencing itself.
Or the content shifts more dramatically, from pain, grief, anger, or whatever it may be, to a sense of a nurturing fullness (with slightly different flavors depending on what it shifted from) along with the quiet bliss of existence itself.
For me, the first can happen if I am out and about and don’t have the time or opportunity to fully bring attention to it. And the second happens if I have a few minutes for myself and can be with it more fully. (Also, the first happens if the process has further to go, in which case there is the co-existence of a lot of different emotions and feelings as Adyashanti talks about.)
It almost seems that the initial surface experience, which we can label pain, sadness, anger, or something else, appears that way due to the resistance. When there is a release out of the resistance, it is revealed as something quite different. As a sweet nurturing fullness, with a particular flavor coming from its surface starting point. Anger becomes clarity and alertness. Sadness becomes a stable and quiet attention. Pain becomes a sense of clarity and aliveness.
There are a lot of wrinkles and intricacies here too, as with anything else. And as with most other things, we become familiar with the terrain through experience.
One of the big shifts that may happen over time is the shift from habitually identifying with wanting an experience to be different, to realizing that it is really, truly, OK as it is. This makes it much easier to be with it, fully allowing it as it is, as if it would never go away, in a wholehearted and heartfelt way.
Bringing in the heart certainly also helps, being with the experience as you would quietly be with a wounded animal or a hurt child.