When you allow yourself to sink into the reality of something challenging, or to grant a painful feeling its necessary space, in that moment you are really and truly alive. Because you’re no longer at a distance from life itself, as it is just now. You’re able to rest — to feel that you’re really here.
You’re spared the ongoing struggle against life, as if the two of you were opponents. Talk about blessings! You’re relieved of the awful burden of carrying the mess you’ve created (unacknowledged reality, unallowed pain). Forgoing all of that frees you to really live your life. Your capacity for delight — and for blossoming consciousness — becomes greater than it was, back when you were your own worst enemy.
Sometimes in deep surrender a person discovers a startling peacefulness just on the other side of letting go accustomed resistance and mental handling. The sense of well-being can be sweet, and deeply restful — even as (yes) pain may come with what’s being accepted. There is no contradiction there. (Did you think life was “supposed” to be easy, always in line with your preferences? Or that your happiness depended on that fantasy alignment?)
The avoided, buried stuff, when no longer held at a distance, can open doors to one revelation after another — all of it ultimately liberating from the crippling illusion of the ego-self.
When you decline to protect yourself from uncomfortable feelings, from some buried or unwelcome reality, the pain that may come has a curious quality of cleanness. Because what you’re feeling involves alignment with the truth. It’s a relief to stop lying to yourself.
When you allow self-transparency, there is a wholeness to your aliveness. More becomes available to the clarity and wisdom of awareness. All of which may prepare the ground for awakening. The more you hold yourself at a distance from what-is, the more you’re holding wakefulness at bay.
Sometimes wisdom emerges in the relaxing of resistance. The avoided, buried stuff (a vast accumulation, much of it habitual and familiar), when invited into awareness without judgment or the attempt to change it, can open doors to one revelation after another — all of it ultimately liberating from the crippling illusion of the ego-self. (As if it were real — as if it were what you truly are.)
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Resistance wedges an artificial distance between yourself and reality — “reality” encompassing both outer circumstances and whatever may be going on in your gut.
Instead of resting in the real, allowing the truth of a thing, letting the discomfort be felt, there’s the strained attempt to manage it all via a mental construct or story. Then what have you got? Instead of there being one source of pain, now there are two, one of which is self-inflicted. There’s the possible difficulty of the real-life occurrence, and heaped on top of that is the weight of the convoluted mental and emotional response to it.
The burden of accumulated resistance is enormous. It exacts a continuing (and mounting) price, creating a toxic atmosphere for ongoing life as it unfolds. Enormous effort is involved in the habitual holding-away and mental scrambling for self-protection. It is, in fact, exhausting to keep up that familiar habit. Though we’ve long since grown so accustomed to the exertion that it little dawns on us what a cost it exacts — never mind that it is, in fact, optional! (Talk about insanity.)
When surrender doesn’t happen, it means there continue to be places inside yourself that are walled off from awareness — from aliveness. The presence of walled-off “rooms” — places you cannot or will not willingly go — means you’ve put constraints on what would otherwise be possible for you. Like ease, like delight and spontaneity. Fully living! Instead, the underlying issue is doomed to recur. You remain stuck, forever spinning your wheels. (And then you wonder How come I can’t seem to wake up?)
Anyhow, neither mental handling nor ferocious denial actually gets rid of anything. The stored-up mess of it all awaits you. The pressure of what’s accumulated intensifies over the ten-thousand episodes of non-acceptance. At some point, life will surely bring you to face it all. Which will be so much harder than if you’d simply learned to accept at each point along the way.
How does surrender happen? Begin with noticing that resistance is happening. Without trying to change anything, without self-judgment, simply notice what’s happening. Discover your habitual method of holding reality at bay. Pay attention to the feel of it all — how the mind is scrambling to spin a story, to wall the thing off. Observe the mind’s frantic busy-ness. See if you can detect distancing from fear (or whatever feeling is deeply buried).
Allow a gentle curiosity to turn on a light — to illumine how resistance operates in you. The start of a new way of being is to become acquainted with the habitual one, without the attempt to enforce a change (which may be motivated by some belief about what’s “spiritual”).
Learning to let go the habit of resistance is not about trying to be otherwise. It’s got to do with simply watching what happens when you become conscious of resisting. Nor should learning to accept carry with it the hope for a certain outcome — like being more at peace, or experiencing some significant shift, or never again resisting. Keep an eye on any “means-to-an-end” approach. The reason to stop resisting is simply to remove the distance between yourself and life. The rest is not up to you.
Gradually you will notice yourself moving toward life (including the life within), in favor of building walls. The relief will be palpable.
The strange and surprising discovery about wakefulness, whether it’s fleeting or sustained, is that the felt experience is of being in love with reality, just as it is. Even when life turns challenging, filling awareness with the recognition of the unknown, of being without control. The closer you come to fully yielding to reality, to being entirely available to it (however threatening or unnerving it might feel), the more readily wakefulness can come into the picture. And with it, a curious sense of well-being, which can be a revelation when what’s being surrendered to is heartbreaking.
A lifetime of resisting gently morphs, relaxing from automatically resisting to eventually starting-to-resist and then realizing that’s happening, followed by relaxing into acceptance. Which eventually eases into not resisting in the first place, its perceived “usefulness” having been clearly seen through as a useless (and torturous) sham.
So, dear heart, be brave! Spare yourself all the misery. Be alive. Allow yourself to rest in reality. Wake up to your very life, just as it is.