Resistance Is Futile

I think he found peace

A few months following my initial awakening, I had a profound realization. At the time, I was in the middle of an intense period of being thrown back and forth between non-dual awareness and ordinary, dualistic mode of perceiving, when I discovered something important when it comes to dealing with life stuff.

Usually, when I’d just been reverted back to ordinary perception, I’d get this huge knot of anxiety, right in the gut. And on this particular day, it seemed especially fierce – a tight, white-hot contraction of searing emotional pain, originating from a deep fear that I’d never return to wholeness again; and from being pretty pissed off, since I couldn’t help but blame myself for having fucking lost my enlightenment – again.

And my usual method of getting into that superfocused state didn’t work either.

So, I sat there feeling sad for myself, trapped in split-mind, nursing my sorry ball of anxiety, when I suddenly remembered what all the masters had kept saying over and over.

They’d say that you should try to ‘accept’ whatever’s coming up in the moment, good or bad. Only I never quite understood what that actually meant. What does it really mean to ‘accept’ what’s happening? To allow whatever’s coming up – to not resist anything?

Well, I didn’t even know where to begin. But then, as I sat there, came an interesting idea. Instead of trying to ‘accept’ this anxiety, what if I could bring myself to wanting it? What if I could take the particular sensations that make up that painful knot in my stomach, and begin to want them, similarly to how I ‘want’ to lay down in a comfortable bed when tired, or how I just ‘want’ a ice cream cone on a hot summer day? Then, there wouldn’t be any need to try to ‘accept’ the anxiety – nobody ever had any problem ‘accepting’ things that they actually want in life.

But how do you decide to want something? Something that you don’t really like? I began to think about what goes into that particular feeling of wanting.

Turns out that the felt sense of desire is something very visceral. It’s actually rooted in the body. Sure, it’s part attitude – but it also manifests as specific bodily sensations, particularily in the chest and gut area.

So I thought, what if I could somehow summon these sensations, and then direct them at the anxiety? I mean, if all that goes into wanting, is a little attutide and some sensations, then it should be possible to produce it on demand!

And I discovered that you can pretty easily bring those sensations forth merely by imagining something you desire. Think about ice cream, or anything else that you’d want, then isolate the specific sensations of want-ness, wherever you find them.

If you then focus on them, they actually become amplified and start to take up more space and presence in your field of experience. And here’s the thing: When you hold that want-ness in your attention like that, you can actually direct it anywhere you want. Take that sense of wanting and direct it towards any vicious sensation, such as a knot of anxiety in the gut – and lo and behold, you now magically want that anxiety.

And that’s precisely what I did.

And as I launched the want-ness right into the center of that massive bolt of anxiety, I immediately felt it loose its power, and I no longer wanted to get rid of it.

I was totally fine with it.

More than that, I actually wanted it. I was in harmony with it.

The resistance towards the anxiety had vanished, and I simply held it lightly and effortlessly in the space of my being, as I did all other parts of manifest reality in that moment.

And then I noticed that, with the resistance gone, the ball slowly started to fade away.

I sat there and I watched it go.

And then, when the last remnant flicked out of reality and there was only peace left, I noticed that everything had shifted back to wholeness again.

Further reading:

35 Responses to Resistance Is Futile

  1. Ricardo Leclaire says:

    Sounds very interesting Goran. I’ll be sure to give that a shot.
    What I’ve noticed myself is that accepting the emotional state you are in is not necessarily as hard as it seems. The main problem is we tend to keep going into thinking to solve the feelings logically. But what if we just sit down, let them be there, even ask them what they would like to show, and just give them space without thinking. What happens then? I’ve found this to be a great approach as well. They dissipate in no-time. Like the feelings hide, like they are shy when you look at them (instead of attack them).

  2. shaun says:

    Excellent, this is really hard to explain and you did it very well. It’s equally hard to understand, even when explained so well. But I got it deep down at the being level, so.. thanks mate, i needed that and perfect timing too!!

  3. Michael says:

    Thank the heavens you’re posting again! I tried something like this with a tooth ache an it didn’t work at all. Maybe I wasn’t trying hard enough …. Or maybe too hard. Or maybe it doesn’t work with physical pain. Or maybe I’m not ready. More please!

  4. oolala53 says:

    JUUUST recently have been able to actually watch the difficult thoughts and attendant sensations without just more suffering. Very interesting to see how I could even think a particular thought and feel an immediate rush of sensations (I’d usually call them shame) in my face. I even played with it. The process did not make the sensations go away, but my interpretation of them became more neutral. Oh, that’s just a sensation of heat and prickliness. My face actually felt as if it had a slight sunburn for more than a day. Not sure when I’ll be ready to try this next step.

    My teacher says if you set out to get rid of the feelings, this can backfire. But, it does remind me of reading about how Lester Levenson, on his very different journey to wholeness, found that he could eventually generate the sensations of love at will. Sometimes he would think of something he loved and then apply the feeling to people or situations that troubled him. Eventually, he needed no intermediary object. He could just summon the sensations, and it felt like love!

    • John Hoag says:

      There are also a thousand books in Buddhism, greatly expounding this very method.
      Why re-invent the wheel ?

  5. Marie says:

    Hi, Goran. Thank you for the post. Completely relatable, the ‘knot-xiety’ you speak of. I get a milder type of that at work, including the subsequent and immediate mental agonies that you speak of. You’ve hit the nail in the head by being able to describe what I’ve done in the past to get past it.

    What’s been more menacing for me though is this hit in the gut that’s all about hopelessness and senselessness of everything and anything. It stems from this “why-bother-with-anything-in-life-since-nothing-matters-anyway”. A wanting to ‘chuck it all away’, not work, don’t pay bills, don’t deal with people. Jumbled of feelings: frightened & disoriented yet strangely liberating and tempting.

    On its immediate onset the internal conflict (to survive and to not care) is like a massive wave out of nowhere trying to drowning me— I can’t tell which way is up, I’m gasping for breath. Like yourself, I then go through an instinctive, rapid fire mental judgment of being ‘Wtf, I’m back here again’ and ‘I thought I fixed this permanently because of my spiritual practices’ (like a leaky faucet or some kind of disease I once had).

    Honestly, I don’t know that I’ve devised a conscious way or effort like you have in order to get to the other side, so to speak. More what happens is, the sooner my mental, emotional and physical all come together and NOT run helter-skelter in their own direction (think of a crowd frenzy running in fear after it hears a gun shot) from the agony its saying its experiencing, the sooner the calm seas return to ‘normal’.

    The first step seems to be a full being having full acknowledgment that there’s some part of me that’s scared shitless with what is in front of it. Somehow this very simple (or not) awareness and acceptance is where it all begins. After that, it takes on a life of its own and proceeds to the ‘next steps’.

    Anyhow, thank you again for your fantastic blog. Really fantastic space. Much appreciated and loved.

  6. John says:

    I have found it very powerful to ask myself “What if I’m dreaming – right now”

  7. Michael Stevens says:

    Interesting comments. I enjoyed reading them. Got me thinking too. Maybe some spiritual practices kind of help release the demons, so to speak. In other words, what we suppress or avoid in ourselves has to be processed before we can really move forward. One of the comments made about old habits learnt whilst still a small child is spot on I think. The habit of avoidance of intense feelings, which feel like they might annihilate us. They have to be got round first, those habits of avoidance! Then the process can proceed. Maybe all that spiritual practice does is help the process. Maybe what we are, amongst other things, are some kind of processing plants and being able to feel anything from all types of fears to all types of love is what we are processing. Somehow we need to discover that the fear of being overwhelmed can be negated. It may not always lead to experiences of full liberation, but it does lead somewhere. It’s like we are either in the gravity of our own direction or stuck somewhere. The gravitational pull does it for us once we can get back in it. We don’t have to do anything once we free ourselves from what holds us back. Nature takes over. How that looks is anyone’s guess. How that feels is unpredictable, but maybe all that’s required is trust in the process. Easier said than done and sometimes quite difficult, because one has to overcome those old habits, but not impossible.

  8. George says:

    This reminds me a little of Eugene Gendlin’s Focusing technique:

    Go into and ‘being-with’ the sort of felt-sense that accompanies a situation, and work through it. Or more accurately, allow it to unfold.

  9. John Hoag says:

    Goran, glad you are writing again.
    Look forward to more from the
    Nagarjuna of the North.

    And who is that rough- hewn yet sensitive type with the tasteful
    Nordic Sweater ?

  10. In your second sentence you say that you were “being thrown back and forth between non-dual awareness and ordinary, dualistic mode of perceiving”. It sounds that you were in a profound dualistic state. Non duality has many meanings but this ascription you make is not very clear and it seems to assume a state that can have an opposite, like dual or ordinary. This is not very clear in your essay, nor it seems to show an understanding of non duality aside from the neo-gurus gross misunderstanding, equating nonduality to oneness.

  11. John Strydom says:

    Bless you, Goran! I was sitting with that huge knot of anxiety once again – the one I’ve been trying to get rid of by accepting it, for many, many years – and then I followed your instructions, particularly to first locate the “wanting”-sensations and then to apply them to the anxiety. I imagined getting a great big hug from one of my favourite people, and there the feeling came. I gradually slumped forward in relief as I “embraced” the anxiety, my faithful old foe, and goddammit, and gorblimey, it began to melt into my embrace, and faded to almost nothing. Now I want it back! Just kidding.
    Maybe it was just beginner’s luck, but it felt revelatory to me. I’ve been exposed to the Buddhist version of this for more than three decades and I could never experience it, except for fleeting moments, because I was trying to do it by great effort, not just feeling into it. That step is clearly the core of the practice, and I had missed it all along.
    Thank you so much.

  12. Declan says:

    It works temporarily, not permanently.

    • John Strydom says:

      Yes Declan, I think of it as just a tool. However, since I’ve been using this tool an interesting perspective has opened up when I apply “wanting it” to all of my experiences. I challenge myself by asking of any experience, “What if this is happening because I want it to?” Can you see how that puts you in the driver’s seat, if one has to put it modestly. But if one is not being modest about it, can you see how that (gulp) puts you in the Creator’s seat? The results have been amazing thus far – a growing and irresistible sense of OK-ness.

    • John Strydom says:

      Declan, I think maybe I went off at a bit of a tangent in terms of responding directly to your statement. My understanding is not that one is trying to get rid of negative emotions; therefore there can be neither a temporary nor a permanent solution, even though there may sometimes be a temporary dissipation of the emotions. From my experimentation with the technique Goran described it seems to me that the only permanent solution is eventually really seeing and accepting that there is a perspective from which there is no problem to be solved at all. Goran’s technique made it experiential for me, and therefore was pretty convincing.

  13. Les Collins says:

    “There are, strictly speaking, no enlightened people, there is only enlightened activity.” ~ Shunryu Suzuki.
    It needs to be clearly seen that there is ultimately no such thing as enlightenment or liberation for a person, for an individual. True Liberation, true freedom, is never freedom FOR an individual, but freedom FROM the imagined separate individual pursuing it. Nisargadatta explained that the absence of all desire and fear was the mark of the return to the natural state. Feelings, anxieties, sensations, and states of mind will never cease to come and go, but when all sense that there is one in whom, or to whom, they occur has utterly lost any sense of relavance or reality, who is there to be troubled, or excited, by them.

  14. Les Collins says:

    Your response to my comments referenced a generic disclaimer with regard to the use of dualistic terminology, but it was not my intention to criticize your use of dualistic languaging. The psychological struggle you described leaves little doubt as to its origin–that of a person battling with a sense of being “trapped in split-mind”, as you called it, being cast out of a perceived heavenly state of perfect “non-dual awareness.” My only question to you, really, is who the heck is this ‘person’ “being thrown back and forth” between dualistic and non-dualistic modes of perceiving, and then engaging in the effort to ‘do’ something to change or reverse it by re-contectualizing into somehow “wanting it” as opposed to “resisting it”? Deciding to ‘want it’ does not de facto make the perceived result anything other than just a slightly altered expression of fundamental resistance. When all fundamental dis-ease with whatever is seen to be the happening of this moment has fallen away, and no serious reactions arise to all of the phantom ego’s reactions and judgements on the situation, or on its ensuing mind-states, where could there possibly be a problem? And more importantly, for whom?

    • Neerav Trivedi says:

      I love this quote from your comment:

      “My only question to you, really, is who the heck is this ‘person’ “being thrown back and forth” between dualistic and non-dualistic modes of perceiving, and then engaging in the effort to ‘do’ something to change or reverse it by re-contextualizing into somehow “wanting it” as opposed to “resisting it”?

      Very insightful indeed! Keep up the great work, my friend. Namaste!

  15. Les Collins says:

    A Postscript:

    That which is by its nature restless
    Can never find peace.
    Peace of mind is
    The mind’s fantasy.

    Wu Hsin

  16. Andrei Palskoi says:

    Been there, done that – many times. You are missing something here. Specifically, you still hold belief that one state is better than another. There is a process of choosing going on. The ball of anxiety needs to go away, sooner or later, so let’s figure out how to make it happen – fighting, wanting in… whatever works.

    Wrong! As long as something in you is attached to some state, especially the one that does not exist in the moment (“no anxiety ball”), you are still fooling yourself. You need to realize that not only there is nobody to choose, the choosing itself is impossible. That ball of anxiety will stay as long as it needs to, and so what? It is just an empty form, just any other. The choosing is what makes it unbearable. Here you are, experiencing that ball, and at the same time the opposite thought is lingering in your mind – it is not supposed to be a part of reality. Who told you so? This very ball at the moment is the ultimate manifestation of truth, not your personal preferences. There is no escape from truth.

  17. Ilka says:

    Hi Göran,
    I was happy to read this – some years ago, happiness worked like the wanting for me, too! I had understood that happiness is something independant from appearances, and that I could apply it (its visceral qualities) upon anything, and it had the same effect – the vanishing of pain. Great discovery, although nobody was interested in it. I then practiced being happy all the time, but some day it occured that it no longer seemed to make sense, because why should I be happy all the time? i found no acceptable reason for it. Morover, my sense of I started crumbling away in an unpleasant manner, leaving me clueless of what was going on. So I quit the whole thing. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Oldragon says:

    Lately I’ve been experiencing some intense anxiety also in spite of continual dedication to understanding non duality or rather the ignorance blocking the natural state. It didn’t make any sense. I would expect just the opposite. However, now I’m thinking that it’s a reaction caused by the egoic structure seeing its end. Like worms coming to the surface after heavy rain. Looking at it in this way, I almost welcome the anxiety knowing that reality is close.

  19. David Lewis says:

    A Course in Miracles is a wonderful study to find true peace. A most enlightening path to personal peace and your mission in this body

  20. Aida Sorenson says:

    I am studying A Course in Miracles again with groups of people and it helps me a lot, just as much as I am open to it and somewhat more.

  21. Fred says:

    Interesting tip, but like any it can also be used as yet another technique to try and get rid of the unwanted feelings.

    In my experience I find that these things work when there is a willingness to actually sort it all out rather than trying to get back to enlightenment. This means that I am prepared to feel uncomfortable but at the same time not escape into a thought story (which is a way to avoid or indulge it but is always an escape from the umpleaseant feelings).

    Another perspective is that whatever is arising that seems to block enlightenment then be glad about it because clearly this is something that needs to be resolved into openness and here is the perfect opportunity. So if there is a willingness to fully face it then, for me, this means that I give up all strategies to be rid of it and relax into being open whilst at the same time not resisiting.

    What I find is that the reason these afflictions persist is because we try to find a solution in thinking and or out of shear habit we go to the story about it and flap around there whilst not realising that this is the attempt to escape it and resist it and thus to perpetuate it.

    Another escape is to try a technique or strategy to bypass it. Again this is more thinking and effort. But in relaxing, being willing to feel it and not indulging the stories we find ourselves in the naked space of the moment and resting here we find that this is the enlightenement and the affliction resolves.

    • Fred says:

      The desire to sort this shit out, and properly, by calmly facing it, has to be stronger than the desire to simply be rid of discomfort.

  22. Jack says:

    How do you know what you had was even an awakening?

    • Robert Bullock says:

      It’s unmistakable. On the other hand, it’s dangerous and possibly foolish to talk about.

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