So I’m back onto the “Just Say Yes” exploration here again which began on my India trip. While there, I took my father’s parting advice to “just say ‘yes.” The point of which, I believe, was to be open to whatever magic might be served up while traveling. I found it to be a wonderful way of traveling, and of being really, to move forward on the path, consciously trying to not resist whatever unfoldment might be occuring.
There’s an entirely other level to this “Just say yes” thing which I want to explore today, and it has to do with the acceptance or rejection of our actual experience. Commonly, we accept experiences which feel good (love, joy, ease, pleasure) and reject those which are uncomfortable (anger, conflict, anxiety, frustration). There are certainly exceptions to these examples as there are also people with personality types which reject those “positive” feelings because they believe themselves to be undeserving, and welcome the “uncomfortable” feelings, perhaps because they are more identified with a more undeserving self. Whichever the case, it seems we are almost always rejecting of our experience. A good example might be of someone who feels frustrated while standing in a slow checkout aisle at the grocery store, seeing the other lines move more quickly. The frustration might build and build and we can carry that with us right through the checkout and out the store, into our cars and sometimes all the way home. Some of us, however, may see the reaction we are having and decide that we should be more “spiritual” in our response and as a result try to formulate a more compassionate and accepting reaction. Although a compassionate and accepting reaction may very well be a more enlightened response, the truth in the moment is that we are actually feeling frustrated. By trying to shift that response to something more comfortable, more palatable, more ‘spiritual,’ I believe that we are actually rejecting our experience. We are “just saying no” to our experience.
I have firmly come to believe that what is true is that which is actually happening in the moment., When I say ‘actually happening,’ I don’t necessarily mean factually provably happening but rather actually happening in our experience in the moment. Thus, the feelings of frustration, while not necessarily an ‘evolved’ response, do actually reflect the truth of the moment. By rejecting the frustration in this example, we lose out on an opportunity to fully experience our lives. There is a truth to the frustration, and we simply miss it. If we have the courage to sit through those more difficult feelings, we are likely to learn much about ourselves (why do I respond this way, where do these feelings come from, etc.). The more and more that I sit with feelings such as these rather than trying to transform them to something else or distract myself away from them, the more I find I actually enjoy them. It actually can have a disarming effect on the more explosive emotions. Frustration, when viewed with curiosity, can actually be very entertaining. One must of course be careful to not be open to the more uncomfortable emotions in a deliberate attempt to disarm them, because then again, you’d be rejecting your experience in trying to transform it into a more palatable one.
As I was noodling these thoughts recently, I picked up a friend’s copy of my Diamond Heart teacher A.H. Almaas’ book, Diamond Heart Book Three: Being and the Meaning of Life. He spoke directly to what I am saying when he wrote:
“When there is a tension in your mind and in your body, aren’t you saying ‘no’ to something? You will find out from your own experience that holding, tension and contraction are simply the resistance to the experience or the perception of a certain state or a certain truth or feeling. When you say ‘no,’ there is a contraction that is a form of resistance…. but at the deepest level, there is always contraction when you are rejecting something in your experience. And the contraction reflects the flow of energy. It creates a barrier that separates you from the experience you are saying ‘no’ to.”
So it really becomes an entire separate path of “Just saying ‘yes’.” Saying ‘yes’ to one’s experience. The more we simply attend to and accept whatever comes and whatever reactive response we may have, the more we are being present to our lives, and the more ease, flow and joy naturally seem to arise.
I’m curious about your own experience with this or the insights you may have as you ponder this through the day.