Meeting Resistance


Meeting Resistance

is always an interesting experience. Whether we experience that resistance within our own psyche and emotional makeup, or within the other. I have been studying resistance for a very long time. Mainly through self observation, because I am so very accomplished at it! I have made a very good subject for this study, and made it one of the five themes in my Silence Practice research thesis in 2010.

A new realization exploded within me around resistance during the final Tuesday of our Silence Practice group this spring. As is usually the case, a fresh experience is often a humbling one, as it brings new depths of understanding and compassion into awareness. The realization that “life,” and “my place in life,” are not what I had previously assumed, sends shock-waves of Reality through habits I have spent a lifetime endorsing: the need to be right, to compete, to know, to prove, to try harder, to judge and compare… etc. etc. I saw clearly that nearly every event in my life had become a stage for these conditioned patterns to re-enact themselves. From the more wholesome awareness of a spiritual awakening, these internalized patterns are simply seen as defensive  “habits of resistance,” and have nothing to do with who I am.

If these  habits/patterns are unchallenged, they can eventually run our life. They form the basis for decisions, conversations, and our social “glue” — what we hold to be real and important. For this reason, I have been expanding my explorations into silence practice to include the practice of dialoguing from a depth dimension. Not only experiencing it in our own private world of interior silence, but being able to live with and among others from this relaxed and trusting place — a place that is so pure and real, that our experience of it leaves us wanting to share it with everyone we meet. Evangelism however, never works!

I remember years ago hearing the story of the monk who lived in a cave for many many years. Upon his return to his nearby town, he met someone on the path who did something that annoyed him and he instantaneously struck out with verbal aggression. He displayed total intolerance for the very attributes he was likely seeking to avoid in himself, through isolation. So we need the “other” to expose the habits of resistance within ourselves. Anyone in an intimate relationship discovers the feeling of being “trapped” in something they don’t feel they signed up for! Our mutual habits of resistance have compounded to the point where they have taken over our relationship. Never a pleasant feeling.

So one has to ask oneself, what good silence practice or any meditation practice is on its own, in isolation? The traditional models of enlightenment are ones of retreat, so that one could “escape” the triggers of the conditioned self and the civilization that helped to produce it. In order to become a true agent of change for the world, we are challenged in two ways. One is to become increasingly aligned with (surrendered to) the depth of our autonomy in God — through Silence, stillness, and deep listening. And the other is to bring that direct contact alive within relationship (communion).

This combination of individual direct experience of depth and the struggle to birth it, is where many of us sit at the moment in our spiritual development. In order to awaken, many of us have “gone away” to India, to a group or cult, or secular and traditional belief-structures. But it is our alignment with the living expression of our Divine nature in the-moments-of-everyday-life where transformation occurs — personal and collective. It is our willingness to own and express our deepest knowing in a paradigm of mutuality that will change our lives in ways we could never have dreamed possible. In this, we are not evangelizing, teaching, or preaching. We are sharing in the mutual delight of knowing each other through depth, rather than through conditioned habits of fear and defence.

When we experience depth in relationship to the world around us, we taste Love’s true nature — which always gives Itself fully and completely in the moment. And if we are “doing good deeds” without the depth of wisdom and love, we are actually serving our own need to be needed. This can perpetuate a perceived lack within ourselves, and results in a constant state of agitation with our life.  We are always trying to find “our place” as special and different from others. Competition in any form is the antithesis of spiritual evolution. It is an old, albeit well rooted, paradigm that does not heal or transform.

As we learn to trust in Silence — and the revelations of our authentic heart — we begin to hear and experience something new. The arresting quality of this direct experience cuts through the never-ending agenda of our separate-self stories and belief systems — including those we hold around God. Until we begin to trust implicitly in the depths of who we are in God (rather than who we believe we are), we will be unable to surrender to the magnetic quality of stillness and Silence. It is a profound intelligence that awaits within the Silence of our own heart.

Our authentic dialogue is crucial to our collective emergence. I would appreciate your comments or questions in the comment section below. Namaste, Laura …

6 thoughts on “Meeting Resistance

  1. I am delight that you blog it is always a joyful experience to see your invitation on my email. I know that life is very divine and yes emotional growth is a huge part of evolution, so I love the universe as it is generous and I feel for me patterns are an invitation to think and do differently, or to simply be comfortable there since that is all I Am willing to do for now. I accept the divine me as whole in both places since always my life is about evolution into greatness in thought, in emotions, in body…and I AM always on this fabulous wave of energy called life in me and so is everyone around me. Life breaths life. It is fun to share my views and I must say I have not had time to read the full blog – so having highlights of key ideas would be great and would also allow me to co- create written words more in alignment with your blog – I love to write and thank you for this opportunity . Love and blessing to All of Life. Diane Claire Manuahi Lafreniere.

    1. Dear Diane. Thank you for your contribution and your wise suggestion to highlight key words. There is so much to read, this would make for an energetic hit or transmission rather than a lengthy epistle!

  2. Dear Laura,

    I so enjoyed this blog post. Resistance – an interesting word to frame the ego (small self)’s clever, varied, but inevitably predictable defense systems. What a profound realization that many areas of your life had been a stage for these ingrained defenses to play out. I think that at every stage of the path we look back and see what we were ‘really doing’ before. A humbling experience! And one that as you say opens us to greater compassion for our ongoing journey.

    In some ways I wonder if it’s realistic to expect that we will ever fully outgrow the fundamental conditioning of the personality…and truly I think those personalities can be wonderful gifts, if we let the essence of ourselves (who we are in God, as you said) shine through. In Expressive Arts practice, among other things, we try to ‘expand the range of play’ so that there are more options for playful, creative, spontaneous responses to the challenges of life. That small self reaction option may always be there, but as we evolve into the fullness of our Selves, many more options for how to play with life become available. What’s your take on this?

    I agree that, as well as practicing retreat and cultivating a personal Depth relationship, we are in a time of need for practices that help us to live in an experience of Depth within the world, engaged with others. I’ve been inspired recently by the philosophical idea of ‘intersubjectivity’ as an alternative to the idea of the dualistic subjective/objective. Instead of competing subjectivities on the stage of an objective (read: dead) world, we live in a field of intersubjectivity, where we participate with each other and the phenomena around us through the very act of perception. In this paradigm the land itself is a participant in this endless ‘world-making’ (or as you said, the living expression of Divine nature). I’m beginning to wonder, is what we call Divinity truly something transcendental, ‘beyond the world’…or if we learn to participate more fully in this field of intersubjectivity, will we discover that the world itself has the key to Depth? In this way these ideas of ‘inner self’ and ‘outer world’ are no longer a barrier to our loving engagement. As Derrida says, ‘Depth is on the surface’. And more recently, a wise person said to me that for her, intersubjectivity is just another word for love.


    1. Dear Kelty,
      Thank you for this. You raise (and write so very well) about some key issues.

      1) I agree with you, we don’t ever “out-grow” anything. With the “letting go’ (or letting-be-exactly-as-it-is) nature of (on-the-cushion) Silence Practice, we may be graced with expansive experiences. These may be challenging to put into words, but what they do, is allow us to experience an expansive Awareness that — just by its nature — takes us beyond the tightly bound patterns of culture and separate-self agendas.

      The separate self actually disappears because we are taken beyond the mind into pure Awareness. We are released completely. Seemingly by something we have not consciously done through our own effort. The Cxn tradition calls this pure simplicity, Grace. One of our most astounding Cxn mystics — who did much for collapsing the false divisions between depth and surface (Derrida quote) — is St. Teresa of Avila. Her book “The Interior Castle,” speaks to “our individual effort” at the early stages and then all the later stages being God’s Grace alone.

      2) What is my take on this? The profound humility that arises is that, in this direct experience of Awareness, so much falls away. That is different than our many “efforting” strategies to overcome — and give other options to — our identification with the (small) self. That is not to say that we abandon these altogether, but that this Awareness exposes them. Am I making sense?

      Our effort is not separate from the journey — in fact it is necessary. The Buddhists have a phrase called “skillful means.” This is where we learn to navigate our daily life in such a way that our alignment with higher truths is the least damaged. This takes “right effort,” where our perception (your word, below) yields to a higher order, rather than the cloudy (illusive) habits of personal or cultural agendas.

      3) “‘Intersubjectivity’ as an alternative to the idea of the dualistic subjective/objective. Instead of competing subjectivities on the stage of an objective (read: dead) world, we live in a field of intersubjectivity, where we participate with each other and the phenomena around us through the very act of perception.”
      So well said Kelty. Indeed! A philosopher and Hasidic theologian you might want to check out is Martin Buber. I used his work in my thesis on SP. He wrote a little book in 1923, called “I and Thou.” He discusses and points out the difference between “I-Thou” (inter-subjective, person as being) and “I-it” relationships — where we use the other as a way to substantiate our separate identity and its needs. An astounding book in its day, and stands — as objective or Absolute Truth does — eternally.

      4) “or if we learn to participate more fully in this field of intersubjectivity, will we discover that the world itself has the key to Depth? In this way these ideas of ‘inner self’ and ‘outer world’ are no longer a barrier to our loving engagement.”
      Yes, I agree, “intersubjectivity is just another word for love.”

      Culturally we have placed God — ideas of God — outside of ourselves. Mythic traditions placed God in the heavens. Our Cxn tradition has done very little to amend that. This dualistic split — mind/body, heart/head, God/human, male/female, us/them, secular/religious etc. — makes up much of our subconscious and conscious mind. In my view, it creates the majority of the “mental noise” we put up with day in, and day out!

      We are slowly awakening to the fact that Life is actually not like that! (Now, there’s a substantive Hallelujah!) This is the awakening to a non-dual view. Which ultimately becomes, or translates into a “non-dual dualism” in this material reality — as it is never about collapsing differences. It is about enjoying their rich beauty. So we learn to hold the dualistic nature of the material world through a non-dual Awareness. Then we enter the Beauty, Truth, and Goodness of our essential nature. Which is none other than Love.

      However, a word of caution. It is so tempting, with our strongly entrenched mind-idenified patterns, to “think” we understand these false (from a non-dual perspective!) divisions and collapse them prematurely. When we do that mentally, without the direct experience of the Mystery, we enter an area that spiritual philosopher Ken Wilber calls the “flatland.” It is a ubiquitous mentality of the post modern age, with its strong tendencies to reduce things to the material and or rational levels alone (in science, psychology, spirituality, and religion). From a flatland worldview, there is simply no room for the Mystery to touch us.

      Thank you Kelty,
      with love,

  3. I find that my own resistance has the ability to shut down finding the stillness that I have been cultivating with silent practice for many years. When I am deeply triggered, and even watching myself, I still cannot seem to access that depth you mentioned. This happened to me recently, and I experienced an inner swirling so I could not even speak in the situation. I could see my resistance, see the trigger, and do nothing. I guess I didn’t make it worse. LOL. But I didn’t make it better either. I know the situation will present again…and even stepping back and being in stillness, there is no answer or solution.

    1. Dear Jennifer,
      I think you have touched on a couple of key issues in regards to Silence Practice (as I understand it to date). Firstly, the “inner swirling” is not an uncommon sensation when the habits of the identified self are breaking down (have you read Eckhart Tolle’s description of his awakening?). Your ability to just stay with that and do nothing but watch it and your resistance, is a credit to the longevity of your practice. Secondly, the depth “appears” when we truly surrender our need to to have answers, solutions, or make anything better. When we truly surrender — allow everything to be as it is — a different territory of our of being emerges that connects us with life in a profoundly different way. It can never be forced or manipulated. We can only practice Silence, without expectations — Grace or Blessing Force (Kabbalistic term) comes when it comes. The depth is always there. Sometimes our individual effort to be the “doers,” the “Silence Practioners,” blinds us. Thank you for your response Jennifer.

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