By Scott Kiloby
What we resist, persists. This is age-old wisdom. When it comes to body contractions, this bit of wisdom is, perhaps, the most important insight. A body contraction is dense sensation usually in the throat, chest, stomach or pelvic area. I’ve always seen the various contractions experienced in my body as unfelt emotions/sensations that have crystalized into dense, solid energy over time. Sometime long ago, probably in early childhood, certain emotions and sensations were simply too much to bear. Something in my system shut down and contracted against the painful emotion/sensation and suppressed it. I came to find out later that, as long as there was some contraction in the body, there was usually some addiction operating.
I spent the earlier years of my life just trying to survive in the face of these painful emotions and sensations. My system unconsciously solidified contraction through those years. I then spent years reaching out towards addictive substances and activities to distract myself from, medicate or cover up these painful energies. It didn’t seem like I had any other choice. This was how my system learned to cope with what could not/had not been fully felt. These substances and activities gave only temporary relief. The contraction would come back, emerging out of nowhere, apparently screaming for more of this substance or that activity. Vicious cycle!
When I met the possibility of releasing these contractions through spiritual teachings and therapeutic modalities, I made an innocent “mistake” that so many make. I know, I know, there are no mistakes. But just hear me out.
I was trying too much. My very intention was to get rid of the contraction. I spent years doing everything in my power to relax, release, rest, explore, meditate inquire into, and transform these contractions. I didn’t realize that most of my efforts were, at the very least, keeping contraction in place, and often actually strengthening it.
Before the Living Inquiries were developed, several of those contractions had already released just through the recognition of awareness and the allowing of everything to be as it is (all words, pictures and sensations). But some of the more stubbornly dense energies remained, as did the addictions that went with them.
Even once the Inquiries were developed, I continued to make the same innocent mistake. I was trying to release contractions with these new tools. This was my conscious or unconscious intention. The fatal error. I noticed that if I had any intention at all to get rid of that energy, it simply stayed around. What I resisted, persisted.
As facilitators of the Living Inquiries, we often encourage clients to rest and let everything be as it is. This is a great instruction to help relax the trying. But sometimes it is just not enough. It wasn’t for me, at least not with respect to these denser bodily sensations. My mind heard that “pointer” but somehow the unconscious intention to get rid of the energy was operating beneath the “rest.”
As I traced back my lifetime, and saw what had happened, I noticed that there was a sort of default pattern in the body and mind, a bug in the operating system, if you will. The pattern showed up in the moment like this:
Whatever feels really uncomfortable
1. I don’t want it to arise
2. I don’t love it when it is here (in fact, I hate it)
3. I want it to go away
When I first started using the Living Inquiries on some of the leftover contractions, this bug was still operating. And I had no idea! No matter how much I noticed that the thoughts, emotions and sensations were not me – that I was aware of these things coming and going – the contraction remained. And it remained because of this unexamined default pattern.
I knew the Inquiries were a great tool for investigating body contractions – the best tool I’d found so far. But I knew I needed to stop and back up, so to speak. A little debugging had to take place first. I knew it wasn’t even about recognizing awareness anymore, because the pattern was so unconscious that it was running even as awareness was clearly realized.
Instead, I simply began to say the following phrase every time the contraction would arise, while being aware of sensations and the shapes/pictures that went with those sensations:
“Thank you for arising, I love you, you are welcome to stay.”
After stating the phrase, I would just rest – do nothing! Go about my life!
I began saying this about two years ago, after I had read about Ho’oponopono, a Hawaii practice of reconciliation and forgiveness. I simply revised the practice and turned it towards body contraction.
Why was it helpful? If you showed unconditional love to a friend who showed up at your door, wouldn’t your attitude be, “Thank you for coming, I love you, you are welcome to stay?” Anything else is resistance. And what we resist, persists.
Just saying this phrase changed the game. It was like deprogramming this deeply-held and unconscious belief that “I don’t want it to arise, I hate it and I want it to go away.” What I noticed is that, once I said that, I didn’t need to inquire into the contraction, at least not at first. Everything was just fine, sweet even! Even the pain just was, whatever it was. Not a big deal when there was no resistance to it.
I even noticed that sometimes the very intention to inquire after I had used this saying carried with it the intention to get rid of the contraction (again). Using inquiry in that way could have merely solidified the contraction. I noticed there was very little inclination to check to see if the contraction had gone away after saying the phrase. That was clearly not the purpose of the saying. The saying was meant to reveal a natural, loving acceptance of the sensations, an acceptance that felt beyond the mind.
This had a deprogramming effect on the bug. Ironically, this phrase, after repeating it quite a bit, began to release the contraction – not necessarily all the way. But it was like it didn’t matter anymore. The bug had loosened its creepy little arms and legs from the energy that was arising (there is no bug, it’s just a metaphor). When there was no intention to get rid of whatever was left of the contraction, I would gently begin to inquire. Inquiry was much more effective at that point. Inquiry felt like restful play or exploration without any result or expectation in mind.
There are other tools that facilitators use during guided inquiry to help clients relax the tendency to try, try, try. This is just what worked for me. When you don’t feel tied to inquiry, you remain open to these things.
I share this with you not as a guarantee that this phrase will release the contraction. Again, that’s not the purpose of the saying (even if the result is a release). For that deeper release, inquiry is often needed after this phrase fully soaks into your being. I share this so that maybe you will pick up the saying and deprogram the belief that “this shouldn’t be arising, I don’t love it, and I want it to go away.” If you have the same default pattern, maybe this saying will help you to stop the game of trying, trying, trying. You can then inquire in a more playful, restful way, using the inquiries in the way they were intended – as a gentle investigation that does not seek to change anything, but merely to relax and lovingly and gently allow everything to just be.
Maybe you will see the irony too: that although what we resist, persists, what we allow (truly allow), changes and even dissolves sometimes. Despite our best efforts to make change happen, change mostly happens when we drop our best efforts!