Kindness to the resistance

There is often some resistance to our experience, some fear, some wish for it to be different.

There is unmet, unloved, and unquestioned fear about some part of our experience, and that takes the form of resistance and wanting it to be different. It’s completely innocent, understandable, and nearly universal. It may happen for most of us most of the time, even if it’s subtle.

If the resistance is not noticed or explored, then there is often unconscious identification with it. We take on the perspective of that resistance and the fear behind it, and we may not even notice it’s happening.

The remedy is to notice and have some gentle curiosity about it.

Is there any restlessness, any wish to be somewhere else or do something else, any compulsion to think or do something else? Is there any wish for parts of my experience to be different?

Where in my body do I feel it? Rest with those sensations. Notice the space it’s happening within, and that’s also within the sensations. Notice any images or words connected with the sensations, rest with these too, and return to the sensations.

Rest with it in kindness.

You are welcome here. Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your love for me.

I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you. (Ho’o.)

We can also do some gentle mining.

If the sensation could speak, what would it say?

What do the sensations mean?

What’s my earliest memory of feeling that way?

Often, I will just rest with the sensations and whatever images and words come up. If it seems helpful, I may ask a few simple inquiry questions just to clarify what’s here. For instance, an image may come up, I sense it feels like a problem or a threat, so I can ask if it is.

When the fear underlying the resistance is unmet, unloved, and unquestioned, there is that unconscious identification with it and its scary story about my experience, myself, and the world. As soon as the resistance or fear is noticed, there is some distance to it and some disidentification. There is room to relate to it more intentionally and with kindness and curiosity. There is room to give it what it wants, which is often to be met with kindness, allowed as it is, held in presence, understood, treated with respect.

Note: I realize I took the reasons for exploring this as a given, and only addressed it indirectly above. I see two reasons. One is that being unconsciously identified with scary stories means I perceive through this filter and live as if these scary stories are true, or at least somewhat true. That can create some problems in my life. I may live and act in ways I wouldn’t if there was more clarity around the fear. Also, being identified with scary stories is in itself uncomfortable. Resting with what’s there, and see more clearly the components making it up, allows it to soften and relax.

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Unconsciously identified with vs recognizing as content of experience

When something charged is activated in us and not recognized, then we are often unconsciously identified with it.

If we instead notice it as content of experience, and notice how it’s made up of a combination of sensations (charge) and stories (meaning), then there is often a softening or even release of the identification.

For instance, resistance may come up in an inquiry session. There is a resistance to doing the inquiry, and this may come from fear and fearful thoughts about what we may have to feel and encounter. If we don’t notice this resistance, or don’t look at it more closely to find the images, words, and sensations making it up, we are typically unconsciously identified with it. It will color our session, and our relationship to the session and the facilitator. A good facilitator will notice this and invite the client to find the resistance and explore its components. Look at the imaginations, the mental images and words. And feel and rest with the sensations. This helps us notice it as content of experience, as made up of imagination and sensations, and it tends to soften the identification with it. We also get to explore the fear behind it. We can relate to the resistance/fear more intentionally.

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Why we resist what can be helpful (sometimes)

Why do we sometimes resist what can help us?

I can find quite a few possible reasons:

We are not ready for it. We are not ready to try it, or to have the problem resolve.

We have been disappointed in the past and don’t want to be again, so we reject it altogether. (From a wound, identification, belief.)

We don’t want others to tell us what to do. It may feel patronizing, or as outside pressure. (If it does, it points to beliefs and wounds.)

We don’t trust the messenger or the remedy. (For good reasons, or because of a wound/identification.)

We want to give what we are already trying a go, and don’t want to mix too many things. (This is very valid, especially if what we are already doing is working or has a good chance of working.)

I am sure there are other possible reasons. I have experienced this in my own life. For instance, I knew that some used herbs to heal from chronic fatigue but I had a prejudice about it until a friend convinced me to seek a local herbalist. It was a turning point in getting back to health. (The prejudice was that herbs wouldn’t have much effect, and that it was mostly used by naive new agey people.)

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Let it be true

Let it be true.

That’s been my main pointer lately.

When I notice even slightly uncomfortable thoughts or sensations, and I remember, I remind myself let it be true.

There is a great relief in this. So much energy goes into resisting or disproving uncomfortable thoughts or sensations, and often it’s not even conscious. This pointer is an invitation to do the opposite. Let it be true, and rest in it being true for a few moments.

Whenever a thought is even slightly uncomfortable, it’s because we have thoughts about it saying it’s bad or undesirable and there is resistance to it. And the same goes for sensations. Whenever sensations seem even slightly uncomfortable, it’s because it’s because a thought says it means something, and that meaning is bad or undesirable, so there is resistance to it.

It’s helpful to take time resting in it being true. Notice what happens. Is there a sense of relief? Anything else?

After a while, we can explore it further in gentle inquiry. What images are there? Words? What (other) sensations? Look at the images and words. Feel the sensations. Perhaps ask a few simple questions to clarify what’s already and really there.

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Revisiting trauma in a healing way

If we revisit a trauma without enough skill, it can easily be retraumatizing. That’s why most of us are reluctant to revisit traumas, even for a while after we have learned and developed sufficient skills. There is a wisdom there too, since it’s often helpful to revisit traumas in smaller portions. There is a wisdom and kindness in wanting to do it slow, in hesitation, and even in resistance. Resistance can be an expression of wisdom and kindness.

In Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) we start with very short sessions, especially if we know or suspect there is a good deal of trauma in the system. (Which there is for many, or even most (?) of us.) We may shake for 1-5 minutes for the first few sessions, to see how the system responds and to get familiar with the experience and process. Then, we may expand to 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and even longer. Also, at first, we do it with just allowing and noticing, and perhaps feeling the sensations. Then, again as we get more familiar with it, we can bring something moderately stressful or traumatic to mind while trembling. And with time, even something more traumatic, as it feels comfortable. Always keeping in mind the comfort, checking to see if we are comfortable physically and emotionally, and taking a break if any discomfort feels a bit much.

With Living Inquiries, we may start with a boomerang instead of looking directly at the traumatic situation. Or we may start with something current for the first one or two sessions so the client gets familiar with the process, and then go back in time to earlier traumatic experiences. Some more experienced facilitators may also go directly to these without much warm up time.

During TRE, physical tension is gradually released out of the body, including chronic tension associated with – and fueling – trauma. There is usually no need to re-experience anything, although emotions or images may come up. Unfelt emotions come to be felt, sometimes with associated images.

In a Living Inquiry session, revisiting the trauma is made easier through looking at images, words, and sensations separately. That’s also where the healing is. We separate out the three, look at each one at a time, and perhaps ask some simple questions to easier see what’s actually there.

From the TRE perspective, we can say that revisiting trauma through talking about it often can be retraumatizing, and perhaps not so helpful. It’s easier and more effective to release the associated tension through the body, and then add the mind component later as needed.

Similarly, revisiting trauma by “looking at velcro”, which is what most talk therapies do, can be retraumatizing. Instead, in Living Inquiries, we separate out the images, words, and sensations making up the experience, and look at each one at a time, which is much gentler.

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To find strength, embrace weakness

To find strength, embrace weakness. To find courage, embrace fear. To find love, embrace the unloving. To move forward, embrace resistance.

To find one thing, embrace the opposite in yourself.

What does it mean to embrace it?

Meet it with kindness.

Find love for it.

See it’s here to protect me. It comes from deep caring. It comes from love.

Rest with it.

Then, inquire into both sides of the polarity. Can I find threats? Needs? Commands? Is it findable, the weakness or strength, or whatever it is?

When I do this, what’s left is a more natural strength, courage, love, or moving forward. One that includes both ends of the polarity, and is not opposed to either.

There is more freedom around the whole topic, and the polarity.

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Resistance and love


Here are some ways I am exploring it:

Meeting it with kindness, love. Ho’oponopono. Holding satsang with it.

Resting with it. Notice. Allow. Feel the sensations, notice images and words, allowing it all. Welcoming it. Notice it’s already allowed.

Inquire into it. What do I find when I look for resistance? Can I find it outside of images, words, sensations? Can I find a threat in these?

Whenever I resist something, it’s because I take it as solid and a (potential) threat, and I reinforce that impression. That’s why it seems to strengthen, solidify, and persist. I am doing it. I reinforce my initial experience of it.

When I welcome it, and even find kindness or love for it, something shifts. I befriend it, so it appears more friendly to me. I may even see that the resistance is there to protect me, and comes from deep caring and love, so it’s easier for me to welcome it, and find kindness and love for it.

And when I examine it, and perhaps can’t find it (outside of images, words, sensations), see it’s not how it initially appeared, there is another shift. As the old saying goes, the snake is revealed as a rope. The resistance is revealed as made up of words, images, and sensations, and when these “unstick” from each other, the charge in it, and apparent solidity of it, softens or falls away.

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Unable to muscle through, so get to face what’s there

Earlier in life, I had strong “will power” and was able to muscle through and get things done in spite of whatever fears, hesitations, hangups etc. were there. I could override it. I was very good at it.

Now, with the fatigue, I am unable to do it the way I used to.

So now, even small fears, beliefs, identifications, hangups, wounds, makes it difficult for me to take charge and get things done. Small bumps topple the cart. (En liten tue kan velte et stort lass – Norwegian saying.)

It’s true that it’s related to the fatigue and lower executive (higher brain) functions, but it may not be directly caused by it. It seems that it’s more cause by a reduced ability to override and muscle through.

There is a gift here. I did ask to be shown what’s left, a few years back, and this seems to be part of me seeing what’s left.

The remedy may be the usual one:

Rest with what’s coming up, including the fears and wounds, and my reaction to it.

Meet it with patience, kindness, even love.

Question assumptions behind the fears. Explore the velcro. See what’s really there – the images, words, and sensations making up the fears and reactions to what’s happening.

See if I can find what’s stopping me. Can I find it in images, words, sensations? (This helps me see how it’s created in my mind.) Can I find it outside of those?

Seeing that there is a gift in it helps me befriend it more. And it also helps to see that both the the fears, and the reactions to it, are there to protect me. They come from deep caring, from love.

Even the fatigue and poor executive functions may be there to protect me, and comes from deep caring and love. In the healing process, the organism seems to prioritize physical function and lower brain functions over the higher brain functions, and that’s a way of protecting me. And the reduced higher brain functions allows me to rest, which is also a way of protecting me.

Note: Some may call what’s stopping me “resistance” but to me, it’s more unquestioned and unloved fears, beliefs, identifications, wounds and even hangups.

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Meeting resistance

I sometimes experience (what a thought would call) resistance, especially when it comes to getting certain projects done.

When I look more closely, I see that there is fear here.

And I can meet this fear in satsang.

You are welcome here.

Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your devotion to me. Thank you for your love for me.

How would you like me to be with you?

What is your deepest desire? What would satisfy you forever?

What are you really?

As long as I have beliefs about this apparent resistance – it’s bad, I need it to go away, it stops me from getting things done – it’s held at a distance, and it’s difficult to meet it with interest and curiosity. Holding satsang with it this way, it’s revealed as something quite different from how it initially looked to me, when it was filtered through my beliefs. It relaxes. Melts. Is revealed as coming from love, being love. Is revealed as awakeness, just as this apparent me it’s happening to/for, and this I observing and relating to it.


Resistance is one of those words I don’t use much. It’s useful as a shorthand, and I notice I am more curious about what it really is.

When I look at what a thought may label resistance, I find something quite different from how it initially appears.

I see it comes from a set of belief, and fear. And that fear, in turn, comes from those beliefs, and perhaps also underlying and more basic beliefs.

For instance, a thought says there is resistance to opening to the discomfort that’s here.

When I look more closely, I find a set of beliefs about what may happen if I do open to the discomfort:

The discomfort will get worse. It’s too much. I will meet something terrible. Something terrible will happen. 

There is also fear, created from these and other beliefs.

And I see that it’s all innocent. It comes from a desire to protect me (an image of me as a being). It comes from pure devotion and love.

I can hold satsang with this resistance:

You are welcome here. Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your devotion for me, your love for me.

I need your strength.

How would you like me to be with you?

What would you like to say to me? What wisdom do you have to share with me? (There is usually/always some practical wisdom there.) Thank you.

What is your deepest longing? What would satisfy you forever?

What are you really?  

 As long as I see it just as resistance, as a gestalt, and not what it’s really made up of, it tends to seem quite solid and real. And as long as I make it into an enemy, an “other”, a problem, something to fix or push away, it will always remain an “other” to me. It will stay an apparent entity, mysterious, an apparent obstacle.

And when I meet it, welcome it, find curiosity for it, find what’s really there, something shifts. I see it’s innocent. It’s an attempt to protect me. It’s love. I ask it how it would like me to be with it. I invite it to find for itself what it really is. And it’s all revealed as something quite different from how it initially appeared.

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Hameed Ali: Resisting something is one good way to preserve it in the form that we experienced it to begin with

It takes a subtle and full understanding of our own field of experience and of how to live harmoniously within it to understand what to do with an external force. In the meantime, we can only do our best until we get to that point. The more we understand how we respond to what is arising within us, the easier it becomes to learn how to deal with what is arising outside of us, so to speak. (At some point, we recognize that whatever happens is not really outside of us.)

When we are pushing against our experience, fighting it off, it doesn’t have the opportunity or the space to be itself. And if it doesn’t have the chance to be itself, it doesn’t have the chance to unfold. And if it doesn’t have the chance to unfold, it doesn’t have the opportunity to reveal its nature. So it continues to be whatever manifestation initially arose. In other words, resisting something is one good way to preserve it in the form that we experienced it to begin with. We resist, hoping to get rid of it, but what we are actually doing is encapsulating it and keeping it in its original form or expression.

– Hameed Ali, Unfolding Now.

This fits my experience, and I wouldn’t say it so strongly. Is it true it’s preserved in it’s initial form? Sometimes it may seem that way. Other times not. And if I look closely, I see it’s not really true. And I also see it’s true that welcoming it – whatever the experience is – does allow it to reveal it’s true nature.

If it’s a contraction, it may reveal images and thoughts behind it, creating the contraction when held as true. It may reveal other emotions, for instance anger may reveal sadness, which in turn may reveal a more basic fear. It may reveal images about the past or the future. It may reveal what’s there as here to protect me, support me. It may reveal love and devotion behind its impulse to protect me. It may reveal it’s strategy as innocently misguided. It may reveal it as awareness, presence, love. It may reveal all that’s here – including appearances of subject (me, I), object (an emotion, contraction, discomfort, a world), and relationship (resistance, welcoming) as all happening as awareness, presence, love.

Friends with the resistance

When I find myself in a situation in my life that seems stuck, that doesn’t seem to change, I often notice a split.

One part of me wants change and another doesn’t want change.  And the more I resist and try to push away the part that doesn’t want change, the more it digs in, and the more entrenched it often makes itself.

And it’s all based on a misconception. I believe (a) that the resistance is wrong or bad, (b) that by resisting and pushing away the resistance, it will go away, and (c) that this will be the best solution. Fortunately, life has a different approach. It knows that there is wisdom in the resistance, so it lets it stay.

So what can I do? I can….

Welcome the resistance. Recognize that it’s there for me. It’s devoted to me. It’s there for me. It’s there to inform and protect me. It wants the best for me. It’s worried love.

Listen to what it has to say. What do you have to tell me? Share your wisdom with me. What do you try to protect me from? What would you like from me?

Let it know that I appreciate it for it’s service to me. Thank you. Thank you.

Let it know it has a right to be here. You are allowed to be here. You are welcome here.

And if the appreciation and welcome feels a little off, it means there is more for me to see. In what way is this resistance there for me? In what way does it have my best interest at heart? What is it’s wisdom? How can I incorporate it into my life?

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A yes to the no to the no

When I look, I see there is a yes to the no to the no.

What’s here is already allowed, even the resistance and the struggle.

(a) There may be a no to the world, a thought that what’s here is wrong.

She should love me. My body should be healthier.

(b) There may be a no to this no, a thought that the no is wrong.

I should be over it. I should be more mature, clear, healed.

(c) And when I look, I find that there is a yes to all of this. There is a yes to the struggle, the resistance. It’s already allowed.

What’s here – the no, and the no to the no – is happening within and as awareness and capacity for what’s here.

Any responses to it – any images and thoughts about what’s here, including a me relating to it – happens after the fact, as an afterthought. Any struggle happens among and within images and thoughts.

And these responses are already allowed, happening within and as awareness and capacity for what’s here.

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A sense of longing

As I wake up, there is a sense of longing combined with a slight sense of dread.

The longing seems familiar in childhood, and the dread from the last couple of years.

I notice a tendency to recoil from it. Fear.

Beliefs about what it means, and what it would mean to welcome it.

I dive into the middle of it.

Bring attention to it. Welcome it as a friend.

There is a shift.

It can no longer so easily be labeled longing or dread.

There is a fullness, a sense of coming home.

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Resistance is doing its job

I went to a concert with Jean Michel Jarre yesterday and had a seat just in front of a booth with noisy drunk people. Some irritation came up along with the thoughts…. they are obnoxious, they are disrespectful, they ruin my experience. 

A bit later, there was a shift and I saw that they were only doing their job. In that situation, their job was to be loud and drunk – and, in my mind, obnoxious. They were doing their job very well, and it was perfectly OK.

On my way home, another shift happened and it was clear that beliefs and resistance are doing their job too. They are doing it perfectly, and it’s OK.

By seeing this, there is a shift out of resistance. It allows for it to be held differently, related to with a bit more kindness and wisdom.

Seeing beliefs and resistance as a problem, there is identification and wrestling. Finding more clarity and seeing that beliefs/resistance are doing their job, there is a release.

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What I resist is the gateway?

What I resist is the gateway.

What do I find when I use this as a question, a pointer for own exploration?

I resist an emotion, and when I allow and meet that emotion, I find relief, an open heart, a sense of coming home, flexibility in relating to situations. I find what I really seek.

I resist a thought, and it’s the same there. When I identify and inquire into that thought, I find resolution, creativity, kindness, a sense of coming home. I find what I really seek.

So what I resist is the gateway.

And really, something else seems more true:

The thought behind – creating – the resistance is the gateway.

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Practices and talks as distractions

Anything can be used as a distraction, a way to escape noticing what we really are – that which already allows experience as it is.

And that includes anything that we label spiritual, such as talks and practices.

I may listen to a spiritual talk while going for a walk or before falling asleep at night, and notice a slight compulsion to do so. A slight resistance to allow experience as it is. Listening to a talk becomes an escape from noticing what is here in experience, including physical pain or certain emotions or images surfacing.

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Island practice and fear practice

My main practice these days is island practice and fear practice.

I notice islands of density, of contraction, identification with viewpoints and images. Then a shift into allowing them as they are, and as if they would never change, and with heart and kindness. And then noticing what they really are. How do they show up in the sense fields? Is it really what it appears to be? Is it solid? Substantial? Lasting? When I bring attention to them, can any label easily be put on it? Is it anything else than awareness itself, awake no-thing appearing as something?

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Resistance to don’t know

Resistance to don’t know can show up in different ways…

If I want to know, but can’t find a story to land on, there is a sense of confusion. Identification with a desire to know without finding a good candidate story, creates a sense of confusion.

If I want to know, and find a story that can play the role, I may take it as true. I pretend it is true, and live as if it is true. I make it true for myself in my mind and life, as well as I can. And life plays along as well as it can.

In both of these cases, identification with a resistance to don’t know is identification within content of experience, creating a sense of I and Other. In the first case, Other is the desired and elusive story of knowing. In the second case, Other is any story threatening the apparent truth of the story I decided to cling to as true.

And all of that applies to this as well. These stories are just pointers, questions, something to explore. What I find is another question.

There is no truth to any of these stories., including this one. At most, they can be pointers (apparently) helpful in some situations and not other.

When I go into knowing, there is automatically a sense of I and Other. A sense of being located in time and space. A sense of something – a story and its identity – to protect. A sense of substance and reality in the story.

When I allow it all – including the resistance to don’t know – there is a sense of opening in all directions. Not being located anywhere in particular. Receptivity. Curiosity. No story or identity to protect.

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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.

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Resistance and allowing

More of the same here… I keep noticing differences between allowing and resisting experience, and this is one of the simplest ones. 

When I allow any experience, there is a shift into a sense of nurturing fullness, an open heart, receptivity, humility, gratitude and a sense of reconciling – or finding gratitude for – the experience. 

When I resist any experience, there is a sense of rigidity, a closed or ambivalent heart, something to protect, separation, and being overwhelmed. 

And this seems to happen independent of the content of experience. 

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Resisting resistance

This is very simple even if it can sound very complicated when talked about.

I have an undesired experience, so resist it.

And this resistance creates more undesirable experiences (tension, stress, drama), so I resist those effects as well.

If I notice that resistance creates those effects, I may even resist resistance itself.

Until I see that it is all content of experience, and there is a shift into allowing it all, as it is, for its own sake, as if it would never change, and in a heartfelt way, with kind attention.

Of course, there is a lot more going on here for each step. I won’t write it out here, but will leave some of it in the outline below.

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Breaking down or growing up

When strong experiences come up, and my personality doesn’t like it, at least two things can happen.

I can resist these experiences. Try to make them go away. Distract myself. And what I try to push away only wears me down. It requires a great deal of energy, and it tends to break down identifications as well – slowly and uncomfortably.

Or I can welcome them. Allow them. Be with them, as they are, as if they would never go away, with kind attention. The experiences work on me here too, but now in a way that seems more nurturing and healing. There is more receptivity. An open heart. Even gratitude.

So strong experiences work in me no matter what. If I resist them, they tend to break or wear me down. If I welcome them, there is an invitation of healing and maturing of my human self.

This is most easily noticed with strong experiences, but really happens all the time – even with (apparently) slight shifts into resistance or allowing.

Allowing as an open secret

Here is one of those “open secrets” which I notice through the day, and which any number of practices – and life itself – invites me to notice.

Whenever I allow an experience – independent of its content – it invites in healing and maturing, and also makes it easier to notice what I am.

And whenever I resist experience – independent of its content – it invites in the opposite. Wounding. Immaturity. A deepening sense of I-Other split.

It is really just Life 101, and something we all know somewhere, but also a remarkable practice when it is made more conscious. And it is also something that seems to happen only when all content of experience is allowed, whatever it is, including resistance itself.

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What happens when something is resisted?

What happens when we resist experience?

  • There is a sense of I and Other. A split into I here and Other over there.
  • From that split comes fear. We fear to not have what we want and to have what we don’t want.
  • There is a rigidity of view. We are stuck in our stories about I and Other and our relationship, and don’t see the validity in the reversals of those stories.
  • Our heart opens, closes down or is ambivalent, depending on our stories.
  • Emotions are reactive. There is a lack of trust.
  • Whatever happens is filtered through all of these… I and Other, fear, fixed stories, an ambivalent heart, reactive emotions and lack of trust. It takes on an appearance created from all of these.
  • Our identification is firmly within the world of form and we don’t notice Ground, and ourselves as Ground.

Allowing and shifts

Experiences usually appear one way when resisted, even subtly, and is revealed as something else when fully allowed.

In the first case, there is some discomfort, even if the experience is desirable to our human self. And in the second case, there is not.

As we begin to discover and explore this, there is a tendency to want the shift, to use allowing as a way to make the experience shift out of discomfort. But this is just another way of identifying with resistance. In wanting a shift, I am caught up in resistance to the experience.

(There may still be a shift, even if we are identified to some extent with resistance, but it is not full, so there will be some dissatisfaction there, and this is the feedback needed to discover a more full release.)

After a while, we may learn to more fully allowing the content of experience, as it is, including resistance and resisted, as if it would never change. In this way, identification with content is more fully released.

And as part of this, we begin to see, feel and love experience as it is, independent of its content. There is a taste of the equality of all experience. It is all just content of awareness, and it is all awakeness itself. It is awakeness forming itself into its own content.

As this happens, there is a shift into fully allowing experience because it is awakeness itself. There is no need for it to change.

What is revealed beyond resistance

Emotions or sensations tend to appear very different when resisted and when allowed.

For instance, I notice when arrogance or resentment comes up, and is fully allowed, they shift into an open heart, empathy, care, compassion.

And really, all experiences seem to shift into the same… a sweet nurturing fullness, an open heart, a receptive view. The particular quality of the initial resisted experience may carry through or not, and if it does, flavoring the way it is revealed when fully allowed.

Arrogance includes a discernment which may carry through. When resisted, it is combined with a sense of being right, and when allowed, combined with an open heart and a sense of us. And this discernment can be more in the foreground or background following the shift, depending on where the interest is and what the situation calls for.

Anger has a dynamic energy and clarity which may carry through. Sadness a quited stability. Physical pain a stable fiery clarity.

And resentment shift into an open heart and a sense of intimacy, a recognition of myself in the other, a sense of us.

Reactive emotions maintain their appearance through resistance to experience, and reveal themselves as something quite different when fully allowed.

Its own antidote

I noticed sadness come up today, in a surprising situation. (Although I could also see what triggered it.)

And then the shift from a slight resistance and discomfort to fully allowing and a sense of sweet nurturing fullness. The same “substance” which initially appeared as sadness, discomfort, a disturbance, something I wanted to go away, shifted into this sweet fullness.

There is nothing new here, but it helped me see that any disturbance is its own antidote, in a certain way. Whenever I feel sadness, anger, pain or whatever else it may be, the “antidote” is in the same substance when the experience is fully allowed.

What I want when I resist an experience is exactly that sense of nurturing rich fullness that comes when it is fully allowed.

This is just one of many examples of the alignment of what my human self really wants, and noticing what I am as awakeness. Fully allowing experiences, including any resistance that may be there, gives my human self what it really wants, and it helps what I am to notice itself more easily since identification is released (somewhat at least) from content.

Allowing in two ways

When I explore allowing, I find two forms of it.

There is awareness allowing its content, which is always and already here. Awareness already allows any and all of its content. It is built open. It is the unmanifest allowing the manifest.

Then there is the allowing which is experienced as more conscious and intentional, This one involves a release from being caught up in resistance, and also any beliefs and identities which does not allow particular content. This one is not always around, and is actually not fully here until there is a release from beliefs altogether.  It is the manifest allowing the manifest.

We can relatively easily notice both here and now.

First, can I find any place where awareness resists its content? I can find resistance, but this resistance too is content and awareness allows even resistance.

Then, what happens if I ask myself can I be with what I am experiencing right now? How is that different from when I actively resist experiences, when I identify with resistance and the beliefs and identities which fuels resistance? When there is an active resistance, what happens when I simply notice that awareness already allows?

Also, when there is an active resistance of experiences, can I see the difference between the inherent allowing of awareness, and the active resistance within content? What happens when there is a more conscious allowing, and the allowing of awareness is reflected in an allowing within its content? How do I experience each of those two, and the transition from one to the other?

Beliefs, knots and orphans

What are the relationships among beliefs, identities, knots and disowned parts or orphans?

Here is a quick sequence…

  1. We believe a story. It is taken as real, substantial, somehow reflecting something inherent in the world. The grain of truth in its reversals are downplayed or ignored, and the grain of truth in the initial story is blown up and bolstered, made to appear as more than just a relative truth of practical value only.
  2. This belief creates an identity. We form an identity as someone who takes that story as true. And the content of the story may also form an identity for us. For instance, if I believe that people should be considerate, my own identity is as someone who either is, or at least want to be, considerate.
  3. Whenever there is an identification with a story or an identity, there is friction between this story/identity and how the world shows up. There is a gap between our stories of how things should be, and how they are or can be. And from here, a whole cascade of things happens, including fueling of resistance and certain emotions and behaviors. And since there is an identification with the story and identity fueling it, there will also be an identification with (most of) its effects. It is all taken as I, as intimately personal, as who I am.
  4. The belief creates friction, which in turn has certain effects, and together they all form a knot. This knot is the whole conglomerate of beliefs and identities, and the patterns of resistance, emotions and behaviors associated with it.
  5. This is where the orphans come into the picture. The obvious orphans are for instance the emotions created by the friction, which are usually resisted and disowned to a certain extent. Resistance itself may also be resisted, so this too becomes an orphan. And other orphans include the grain of truth in the reversals of the initial story and identity. Each of their reversals have a grain of truth in them, and this grain of truth it also resisted and disowned.

I believe I should be healthy, so form an identity as someone who is – or at least want to – be healthy. I am not healthy, so there is a friction between what is and what should be. This creates various emotions, such as frustration, anger, sadness, hopelessness, grief, and so on. It also fuels behaviors to avoid triggering a noticing of the discrepancy between what is and what should be, and the emotions created by this discrepancy. All of this creates a knot, and much of it is resisted to a certain extent. I try to escape it, avoid it, disown it. So the orphans here are the resistance itself, the emotions triggered, and also the grain of truth in the reversals of the initial story and identity. To welcome these orphans back into the warmth, I can be with the resistance and emotions in a heartfelt way, as if they would never change. And I can investigate the truth in the reversals of the initial story and identity.

Flavors of being with experiences

Initial draft… 

Some flavors of being with experiences…

  • Wanting it to stay. When attention is wholeheartedly with what is experienced, there is sometimes an accidental (and innocent) shift into wanting it to be there. It has been resisted for so long, so now that there is a wholehearted allowing and being with it, an impulse comes up to allow that to continue for a while. For instance, there is pain, resistance to it, then a shift into wholeheartedly being with it, a noticing this shift and the shift of experience itself, and then an element of wanting it (what initially appeared as pain) to stay. This element of accidentally and sincerely wanting it to stay seems to propel it on even faster. The initial experience, and even what it shifts into, moves along quickly. (Almost a form of reverse psychology.) If I notice this pattern and try to use it consciously to make something go away, it is not likely to work very well. I am only digging myself further down into resistance that way.
  • As if would never go away. Being with an experience, as if it would never go away. This invites resistance to it going or staying to fall away, since it will always be there. There is just a simple being with it, as it is. Complexity, other motivations, and strategizing, tends to fall away, leaving it more simple.
  • Wanting it to go away. Being with an experience because there is a wanting it to go away. This one is an identification with a belief and resistance, so the being with is half-hearted at best. There is an identification with a part of the content of experience (the belief, that which wants something to change), and a resistance to another portion of the content of experience (pain, emotions, etc.) so the split between the two seems very real. A half-hearted being with is not going to change this much. I have to be willing to let go of identification with any content, including these beliefs and identities, even if it is only for a moment. If I take myself to be one portion of content of experience, something else will be Other, there is inevitably resistance (wanting it to stay or go away) and so not a wholehearted being with of the whole field of content of experience. There can only be a wholehearted being with experience when there is a willingness to release identification with what I initially identified with.
  • From the three centers...
    • Head. This is a being with coming from seeing, from awake clarity. This one tends to be a dispassionate seeing.
    • Belly. A felt-sense being with, one that is felt in the body. There is a felt-sense of how it is to be with that experience, and how it is when it is not seen as Other anymore.
    • Heart. A loving being with, coming from the heart. When the being with includes the heart, there is a more wholehearted allowing of the content of experience as it is, without wanting or needing it to change. There is also a healing element here, allowing it to change and heal as it needs to, now in the absence of being resisted.
    • All. A heart-felt being with, often starting with seeing and a felt-sense, which tends to invite the heart to join in.

Bringing up and being with

For a while, probably due to doing The Work and receiving diksha, a lot of knots came up on their own, so I could see the beliefs and inquire into them, and experience the emotions and be with them in an heartfelt way.

Now, it seems that there are bits and pieces left, scattered around, and I find that it is more helpful to actively go after them. To put myself in situations where beliefs are triggered, and go through my memories and imagination to trigger emotions I can be with, as they are, in a wholehearted and heartfelt way, as if they would never change.

For finding emotions to be with, I find that going through my memories in reverse chronological order is helpful, and also to bring up the memories in the most vivid and detailed way, and then let the memory go and just be with the emotions.

Whenever attention goes somewhere else, I know that what may appear as distraction is really just attention going into another knot, as is the nature of attention to do. It leads me directly to another knot of a belief, a story that is taken as true, and an emotion that has not been fully allowed and experienced in an heartfelt way.

After a while, I also find it helpful to bring attention to whatever sensations are here now, the ones that there is even the slightest hint of resistance to, and be with those as well in a heartfelt way.

And then even do the same with some of the image thoughts here now, such as the ones of a sense of center in space, a separate self, and so on. I find that this tends to release identification with them, bringing me into headlessness, which is just another hint of how beliefs are really just resistance… resistance to what is already more true for me in immediate awareness. (And, we can say, resistance to seeing the truth in its reversals, to seeing it and its reversals as only relative truths, and resistance to fully allowing and being with whatever emotions it triggers.)

After that, I sometimes go into the most scary scenarios I can imagine for myself, the ones that are the most terrifying. And then, notice the beliefs there for possible later inquiry, let go of the images, and be with the emotions triggered in a wholehearted and heartfelt way.

These emotions are just like vulnerable animals, or scared children. All they want is to be seen, felt and loved as they are, as if they would never change.

And this helps what we take ourselves to be. It helps this human self in its daily life. It helps it heal, find itself as more whole.

And it also helps what we really are to notice itself more easily. When there are lots of knots – of stories taken as true and emotions escaped from – attention tends to get absorbed into them. We are caught up in them and the drama created from them. And this makes it less easy for this awakeness to notice itself as awakeness, and all of its content – including all of these knots and all of the drama – as awakeness itself.

Avoiding and being with

Whenever emotions come up and there is an impulse to resist, avoid and escape, at least three things can happen…

One is to go with the escape, which usually means a combination of trying to change the trigger, the triggered, and bringing attention over to something else – often the inside of a story related to the emotion, or something entirely different. The habitual pattern of believing in stories is reinforced, as is the belief in that particular story, and the tendency to escape. Still, it is perfectly OK. It is just what the mind does when it takes stories as real. It is just something to notice and explore.

Another is to bring attention to something else arising here and now, such as the weight of the body. This brings attention out of the story, which means that the habitual pattern if attention going to the inside of stories is weakened over time. At the same time, it may bring attention away from the sensation component of the emotions, and the sensation/story conglomerate is not processed so it will most likely surface again. The belief in the story triggering the emotion in the first place remains, and may – at best – weaken slightly and gradually over time as the attachment to stories in general weakens.

And finally, we can be with what arises, bringing attention to the pure perceptions of the emotions (usually just a sensation) and seeing the stories associated with it (calling it fear, anger, etc.) as just thoughts. This is a more full processing of it, allowing the emotions to be seen/felt/loved, and the belief to surface for further inquiry.

Seeking escape

When there is a belief in a story, there is automatically escape from experience as well. Whenever there is friction between our stories of what is and what should be, there is discomfort, and a seeking to avoid that discomfort… by changing our stories of what is, what should be, or changing our attention to something else. And when this is done to escape the tension, there is a sense of compulsiveness to it, avoidance, and discomfort.

There are, at least, three ways for this to change.

The most crude one is to repeat this over and over until there is an exhaustion of this pattern. If we pay attention, and repeat it often enough, we see that it really doesn’t work, and the pattern may wear out and fall away.

Another is to explore being with whatever comes up, to actively go against the pattern and see what happens. What is the difference between trying to escape an experience, and going into it, fully being with it, allowing it, in a wholehearted and heartfelt way?

And yet another is to inquire into the pattern, to explore it more thoroughly through inquiry, learn about it in its many aspects and flavors, for instance using The Work or the Big Mind process.

In most cases, there is probably a combination of each of these three, and probably other ones as well. There is a wearing out of the pattern, from seeing over and over that it really does not work. There is an inevitably being with of whatever is, even accidentally, and a noticing of the shift that happens. And there is an exploration of the dynamics of the pattern itself, a familiarity with it.

From my Zen days, I see that sitting practice, probably just about any sitting practice when done enough, includes each of those three.

Mimicking Ground

Waking up is a process of mimicking Ground, until Ground awakens more fully to itself.

Ground, this awake void, allows any and all forms. If there is an identification as anything less, it creates an I with an Other, and drama.

Or we can say that awareness naturally allows any content, doesn’t hold onto any of it, and is inherently free from all of it. So when awareness awakes to itself, and recognizes its own content as itself, that too is what awakens.

Or we can say that the whole world of form, as it is, is God’s will. As long as there are attachments to stories and identities, we make everything into an I here and Other out there, and this I in opposition to God’s will. By letting go of identification with these stories and identities, God’s will is revealed as God’s will, and any resistance to it is also let go of.

Looking forward to triggering beliefs and emotions

At some point, there is a shift from dreading having certain stories and emotions triggered, to genuinely looking forward to it, and even actively triggering them.

Through inquiry, I find what is already more true for me than the initial story, and the clarity and freedom on the other side of taking stories as absolutely true.

And through being with whatever arises, including emotions, I find that what appears one way when resisted, is revealed as something quite different when not resisted. Through being with emotions in a wholehearted and heartfelt way, their appearance of solidity falls away, and there instead something else… such as clarity, stability, fullness and sweetness.

When I do this, I see the shift and look forward to exploring other beliefs and being with other emotions. And as I do this over and over, there is a larger scale shift as well, changing my general attitude towards beliefs and emotions.

Hiding from them may have been my habitual pattern, and it comes up again for a while inbetween the phases of clarity. But then, as the shift happens over and over, the habitual pattern changes as well. That too, over time, shifts from dread and an impulse to escape to looking forward to it.

And then, even taking time to actively triggering beliefs and emotions. For me, reading certain new sources is a great way to trigger beliefs, and going into certain memories is a great way of triggering emotions.

From shunning certain emotions as wounded little animals, or people in distress, there is an active seeking them out. Maybe similar to Mother Theresa seeking out those in need in Calcutta (!)

Of course, when emotions are triggered by memories, it is really beliefs that are triggered, in turn triggering emotions. But for this purpose, it works well to just focus on the emotions. To trigger emotions, and then be with them in an heartfelt way. I can always inquire into the beliefs behind it later on.

Similarly, when I inquire into beliefs I take time to be with the triggered emotions in an heartfelt way. I stay with them for a while, before moving on.

As so often, the two go hand in hand.

Anatomy of resistance

Resistance to experience is one of those things that seem so solid and substantial, but turns out to be ephemeral and even fall away (at least as something identified with) when seen more for what it is.

When I explore resistance to experience, I find…

  • Attention shifting to something else. Instead of being with the trigger (the circumstance) or what is triggered (emotions, tension), it continues on to stories about what is going on, or something entirely different. It may go to stories about something else, or I may create other sensory inputs that attention can go to, for instance by talking with someone, eat, or watch a movie. In other words, there is subtle and not-so-subtle distraction.
  • A good deal of drama is created from identification with the stories and resistance. There is a clash between my stories of what is and what should be, and from here there is a split into a sense of I and Other, and a dramatic relationship between them.
  • Behavior aimed at changing the situation. Such as the trigger, which is usually something in the world, a certain set of circumstances. The triggered, such as emotions and tension. Or even the triggering itself, the process of resistance, for instance through inquiry into the stories of what is and what should be, and a being with of whatever comes up in terms of images, sensations and emotions.

For instance, say there is physical pain.

I have stories of how (a) there is pain and (b) there shouldn’t be pain, and to the extent I take those stories as real and true, there is a clash between them. There is also a clash between what is and my image as someone who either is generally healthy, or at least should be healthy.

So now there is resistance to the pain.

My attention then goes away from the direct perception of the pain to stories about the pain, or to stories about something else, or to different sensations created by something I do (eat etc.)

This clash of stories creates a sense of drama around the whole situation, creating more emotions and physical tension.

And I may try to change the pain itself (by taking a pill), I may try to change the emotions triggered (by talking with a friend, go for a walk, watch a movie, eat good food), or I may try to change the triggering process itself (by examining my stories of what is and should be, or being with what is alive in immediate awareness in a heartfelt way).

The funny, or tragicomic, part about all this is that resistance accomplishes very little.

It is a safety valve of sorts, allowing some of the steam created by the clash of stories to be diffused, so in that sense it is very helpful, in the short term. And it can bring us to certain actions in the world, although these tends to come from a certain compulsiveness (from beliefs) so often have unintended and unpleasant side-effects.

Beyond that, nothing much is happening.

Resistance is very much a spinning of the wheels, leading to not much apart from a sense of drama and a rehearsal of the habit of resisting experience.

But we can also see resistance as an invitation to explore the whole process of resistance in more detail. We can explore our stories of what is and what should be (are they true?). And we can explore what happens when we allow attention to be with what arises, as it is, as if it would never change, and in a heartfelt way.

By exploring the stories, we may find what is already more true for us than those stories, which releases the grip on them. And by being with whatever arises, what we previously resisted may reveal itself as something entirely different than what we thought it was (for instance pain may be just sensation, and beyond that, dynamic and fluid and even have a sense of sweet fullness in it).

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The filter of resistance

In exploring resistance, a few things stand out:

First, that whatever arises, and in particular emotions and strong sensations, are filtered by resistance. They appear in an often entirely different way when there is resistance and when there is not. With resistance, there are clearly recognizable emotions such as sadness and anger, and clearly recognizable sensations such as pain. When there is a heartfelt being-with of whatever arises, each of those are revealed as something else… for me, often as a sweet fullness which cannot easily be labeled even if I wanted to.

Then, that resistance is not what it appears to be. When I explore the anatomy of resistance, there is really not much there. That too, is a gestalt formed by a variety of components, and when these components and the ways they form a gestalt is clearly seen, resistance – as I knew it – falls away. As with a sense of a separate self, it falls into its components.

And finally, resistance is only resistance when it is identified with. Resistance without identification is only part of what arises, as anything else. But with identification, it becomes something that appears very real, solid, substantial, creating a clear sense of I and Other, and separation. In this way, it is no different from anything else identified with. (And all I can ever really identify with is a story, which makes it appear as if I am identified with something else such as resistance.)

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If nothing else works, then can always be with it

For a few days, there has been no impulse to do any form of practice (apart from The Work last night, and then only because I went to a group doing it together).

So then, there is always just being with what is, as it is. Allowing it, as it is, for its own sake.

And this being with allows for quite detailed explorations of resistance.

Seeing how identification with resistance (taking it as an I) creates a sense of I and Other, a center in space, something substantial at this center, drama and struggle, something to protect, separation and alienation, physical tension, being self-conscious (conscious of a particular image presented to the world), and so on.

And then seeing what happens when identification with resistance is lightened up on, released even to some extent… a reduced sense of split between I and Other, of a center, of something substantial at the center, of alienation and separation. And instead, a sense of ease, clarity, a wide open field with less or no boundaries.

And finally, in exploring the effects of resistance and absence of resistance, seeing that resistance achieves nothing apart from a sense of drama. It is a spinning of the wheels. And that the clarity that comes when identification is released from resistance is fertile ground for actions in the world.

It may seem that we need resistance and drama to act, and action may indeed happen in the midst of resistance and drama, but it often has a sense of contraction and drivenness about it, a lack of receptivity and clarity. Without the resistance, the same actions may happen, but now from more receptivity and clarity.

And of course, if there is not even this being with, that is fine as well. If attention gets caught up into the insides of stories, and there is identification with resistance, that too is OK. That too is the temporary play of the awake void. That too is a part of the landscape.

Torments of unitive life, and open mind

I am reading Bernadette Robert‘s Path to No-Self, which is a beautiful and clear description of her own path to selfless realization, described in a Christian context.

Two things have stayed with me from the final few chapters…

The first is the inherent torments of the unitive life, the state of oneness with God, yet with still a vague sense of I and Other there.

There are the torments of (a) not being able to express clearly the beauty, clarity, insights, wisdom and compassion here, in one’s own life or words, and also (b) it often not being appreciated, or understood, by others. For myself, I can also add the torments of the intensity of that phase, of extremes of energies going through and massive amounts of reorganization needed of the human self (probably not everybody goes through this).

The beauty of these torments, which Bernadette Roberts describe so clearly, is how it prepares for a final release of a sense of I with an Other.

The remaining sense of a separate I is what gives birth to the torments in the first place. The identification with the particular identities of this separate I gives resistance to what arises in different ways. It is a resistance to what is, which ultimately is the Ground of awake emptiness & form inherently free of an I with an Other. This resistance is what creates the torments, and also what helps burn through the resistance itself, the sense of an I with an Other.

The other thing I found interesting is Phase V, the Open Mind, a practice of going outside of ones habitual perspectives and views, of finding fluidity among a range of perspectives which then tends to reveal the inherent neutrality of any situation (my words).

This is very much similar to the turnaround part of The Work. And, as BR mentions, it seems to be an essential (?) part of the shift from the unitive life, where there is still a sense of a separate I with a particular perspective, to selfless realization which is free from any fixed identifications and perspectives (so also able to play freely with them and make use of them as the situation calls for).

As she also mentions, the fear before entered into is that it will make us into zombies, doormats or nihilists, but what is really happening is just this freedom to play with and explore a range of perspectives and viewpoints, seeing them all as stories of only practical and limited value (not absolute truths). And the whole process is infused with heart and compassion, which gives a practical direction that thoughts alone cannot provide (she doesn’t talk about this explicitly, but it is there between the lines).

The heart (love, compassion, empathy) gives the direction and is the main guide for actions in the world, it tells us what, and the head (stories, views, perspectives, frameworks) tells us how.

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