Resistance creates the appearance of what is resisted

It is a daily experience, and sometimes we even notice it!

Resistance creates the appearance of what is resisted. (Or as someone said, what we resist persist.)

When I resist pain, the resistance to pain creates the appearance of pain. It appears more clearly as pain. It seems more solid and real. It tends to stay around longer.

When I resist laughter, the resistance to laughter makes it stronger. It shows up more clearly as an impulse to laugh. It seems more substantial. It stays around, wanting to break through.

And the same with whatever else I may resist. Discomfort. Joy. Anger. Sadness. Grief. Bliss.

The important thing here is just to notice the dynamic. When I resist something, that very resistance creates the appearance of what I resist.

And when I allow experience, as it is, as if it would never change, it shifts. Content of experience becomes something I cannot easily put a label on, even if I try. It seems more ephemeral and insubstantial, maybe even noticed as awakeness itself. There is a sense of opening in all directions. Of not being located anywhere in particular in space. There is often a sense of a nurturing fullness flavored with compassion or kindness since allowing experience itself is an act of compassion and kindness.

The allowing has to be genuine, of course. It has to include all content of experience, as it is, as if it would never change. Using allowing as a tool for something to change is another form of resistance, and that one too can be allowed as it is. Allowing is a funnel that everything can be thrown into.

So what happens? At this level, it is sufficient to notice and become familiar with the general dynamics of resistance and allowing in daily life. But it can also be interesting and helpful to explore it a little further.

Here are some things I notice:

When there is resistance to experience, there is also identification with a label and stories about that label. The label and stories about it are taken as true and real. And those filter experience so it appears to better fit the label.

Also, there is a tension of certain muscles so the sense of I and Other (what is resisted) are more easily located in space, and the tension also lends a sense of substance, reality and permanence to both.


And when I allow it, it changes. When I allow whatever is happening – including what is resisted and the resistance itself – there is a shift. What is resisted can no longer so easily be labeled. It cannot easily be labeled as I initially did, and it cannot easily be labeled in any way. It appears more ephemeral and may pass through quickly. It appears more insubstantial and may be noticed as awakeness itself.

For me, there is often a sense of opening in all directions, of spaciousness, and content of experience – whatever it is – shifting into a sense of nurturing fullness. There is also a release of that sense of being located in a particular place in space, and less of an I to be located anywhere.

(That allowing has to be genuine, of course. If it is a tool for something else, for having an experience change, then the allowing is just another form of resistance. Experience has to be allowed as it is, as if it would never change.)


Most of us are probably familiar with this in our daily life. We resist an experience, and it only becomes stronger.

There is an impulse to laugh, I try to hold it back, and the urge to laugh is amplified.

There is pain, I try to push it away, and it only seems to grow.

What is going on here?

When I explore this for myself, I find a few things…

Resisting experience comes from taking stories as solid and real. I take a label placed on the experiene as real. I take stories about that label as real. And I take the resistance itself as real.

All of this filters experience.



  • common experience
    • try to hold something back, and it only becomes stronger (for instance laughter)
    • resistance makes it stronger + more clear
  • resistance
    • label + story of desirable/undesirable
      • taken as true, acted on as if true
    • label + stories about it appears more real, substantial
    • label filters the sense fields, makes it appear as what it is labeled as, fit expectations
  • allowing
    • less caught up in labels + stories, less substantial
    • allow the sense fields as they are
    • experience of it shifts
      • sense of it releasing, softening, dispersing
      • cannot easily put a label on it
      • shifts into a sense of nurturing fullness
    • allowing flows from receptivity and kindness, and what is allowed has a flavor of the same – of receptivity and love



I went for a walk in the woods near the house and listened to a podcast. Sometimes, it would be funny and laughter came up. And when I resisted it because I didn’t want to be seen as a grinning fool by others on the path, the laughter became a more clear and strong impulse to laugh. Noticing this, I allowed whatever was happening, including the resistance, and what I had labeled laughter changed into something that couldn’t easily be labeled. It diffused out and became a sense of nurturing fullness.


  • resisting pain, creates the appearance of pain
    • when allow, shift into something else
  • resisting anger, creates anger etc.
    • seem to find in many areas
  • resist
    • label it pain, interpreted/filtered that way + associated beliefs (undesirable, dangerous, etc.)
    • creates sense of I-Other
    • sense of solidity, recreate it, maintain the gestalt (through label and resistance)
  • allow
    • content may stay the same, but no I-other struggle around it + released from label (from being interpreted a certain way)
    • content may shift (reveal itself as something that cannot put an easy label on)
    • nurtured by it (from problem to support)

Initial outline…

  • variation of “what resist, persist”
    • resistance to pain
      • interpret sensations as pain
      • I-other dynamic, filter experience a certain way as well (filter the “other” a certain way)
      • appears as pain + as solid, substantial, persistent
    • allowing/welcoming experience
      • release of identification with a story about it
      • release of I-other dynamic
      • appears differently
        • fluid
        • as something cannot easily put label on even if try
    • shift
      • from a problem
      • to a sense of nourishing fullness (from what was previously labeled as “pain”)

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