Core Resistance

Core Resistance

Australian silo art by Kaff-eine
Australian silo art by Kaff-eine

I’ve often written about energy healing, primarily from the approach of resting in source and allowing emotions to arise and heal. This is a key part of clearing the energy bodies. The result is better quality of life, setting the stage for awakening and embodying light.

More recently, I wrote about another, more somatic approach to healing: following sustained sensations into their emotional cause. The reverse process – outside in.

(I also wrote about Irene Lyon‘s similar work, from a trauma perspective.)

However, I was unsure how to process what came up here. The usual “allow the emotion” approach wasn’t resolving the contraction itself. Turned out there a process to follow.

First, there was a residual side-effect of what the Vedic tradition calls pragyaparadh or the “mistake of the intellect.” (pragya = intellect, aparadh = ignorance) Put another way, residues of the old identity.

Further, the emotion was a mask over the actual contraction, an old fear. So often, our resistances are layered. Once the identification was released, that fear was conscious, and it could be processed, releasing in a vortex.

To understand the mistake of the intellect, let’s explore it’s role.

The intellect arises from the Divine quality of intelligence and discriminates the self from other. This helps us separate from mother and discover who this person is after we’re born. What is my body and what is not? Ahamkara or the I-sense arises as a result.

However, when we forget our deeper nature, intellect becomes associated with the mind and senses. Our self-sense develops as a separate entity. Around the age of two, we also develop Asmita, the possessive self. Mine!

This confusion about who we are is the mistake of the intellect. Yet, the intellect naturally makes this mistake when we forget our real nature. What else does it have?

“In the process of experiencing the world, to know its essential nature, the seer becomes identified with the seen.
The cause of that (identification) is ignorance (of our true nature).
Removal of ignorance removes identification. This is release, singularity (enlightenment).”
– Yoga Sutra 2:23-25

When our true nature recognizes itself through us, that ignorance is addressed and our identification with the ego and the content of experience ends. The mistake of the intellect is corrected.

The intellect then comes to associate with the Self (true nature) instead. As the Self is eternally stable, the intellect becomes “resolute.” This sets the stage for Ritam.

“There resides the intellect that knows only truth.”
– Yoga Sutra 1:48

When we’re not driven by our unresolved experiences and identifications, clarity dawns. Knowingness arises.

And for those with the dharma, cognition.

Of course, purification and healing aids these.

To be clear, by healing on this blog, I’m talking of the “small t traumas.” These are the emotional challenges or common stresses we all go through, like loss, death of a loved one, breakup, and so forth.

The influence of a stressor depends on how we respond to it. That will vary by person and their history. For example, it varies widely how stressful we experience losing our cell phone.

If you’ve experienced traumas that threatened your survival, that’s a different arena. War, natural disaster, accidents, assault, and abuse are the “big ‘T’ Traumas”. Those need to be addressed before we get into the routine stuff. They may need more guidance than simple awareness.

Abraham Maslow described a hierarchy of needs. Once we meet our basic needs (food, water, air, shelter, etc.), we can pursue safety, belonging, self-esteem, and self-actualization. But like our response to trauma, our world-view and unresolved stress affects our response.

All of this comes back to the mistake of the intellect.

That core ignorance (pragyaparadh) of our true nature leads to an identified ego that seeks to control so it can feel safe. This leads to basic contractions. I’ve seen these referred to as the core fears or traumas.

The Yoga Sutra (2:3-5) describes a few core afflictions:

“The afflictions (klesha) are ignorance, the possessive ego, attachment, aversion, and clinging to life.
Ignorance is the source of the others, whether they are dormant, weak, interrupted, or active.
Ignorance is perceiving the non-eternal as eternal, the impure as pure, suffering as happiness, and the non-Self as the Self.”

Ignorance of our true nature (aavidya) is the primary affliction. The possessive ego is the mentioned asmita. Attachment relates to identification and to grasping at what we want. Aversion is resistance to what we don’t want. I’ve written a lot about this. Clinging to life is the fear of death. This is natural, but falls away when we discover our true nature as eternal being.

The common basic contractions that come to mind are:
– separation (leading to feeling lonely, alienated, disconnected, abandoned, loss)
– self-worth issues: muted or exaggerated (worthiness, esteem, ability, vulnerability, blame, anger, and shame)
– unknowing (feeling loss of control, uncertainty, hopelessness)

It’s thought that each of us has a related “core fear” that others surround. For example, we may have a fear of loss (separation). This can manifest in many ways, like insecurity about safety, resistance to making close connections, feeling lonely or abandoned for “no reason,” and so forth.

Often, individuals carry that core stress through many lives or inherit it from our ancestors. It can even be an archetype we’ve carried since the precipitous drop in collective consciousness prior to the dark age (yuga). A karmic event in our childhood (around age 8-10) activates it in this life, shifting our worldview and reengaging the related stories.

But note that the core itself isn’t fear. It’s the misconception of who we are. Even after awakening, when we’ve become our true nature, some impressions of those misconceptions can remain, quietly influencing our self-sense.

Often, our basic contractions can be in conflict. For example, if we have a fear of rejection, we can struggle with social contact, especially with dating. And yet this conflicts with our need for belonging and connection. The effects of these contractions can be overt or subtle. And they can effect other things. For example, if we pull away from others, their response can mute our self-esteem. Yet all of this is self-created.

I don’t mean we should blame ourselves for how we feel. It means we should pay attention to how we feel so we can resolve these impediments to a full life. And with them, these conflicts die too.

Because we’ve been carrying the basics for many lifetimes, and there are overlays from stressful experiences in this life, healing isn’t a fast process. But with something like an effortless meditation practice, taking care of ourselves, and learning how to heal, our quality of life will gradually improve. This sets the stage for that mistake of the intellect to be corrected and then, in time, for its residues to be resolved.

Remain curious and clarity will come. The difference that makes is astonishing.

Last Updated on March 20, 2024 by Davidya

Average rating 5 / 5. Vote count: 14

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.


  1. Michael

    Hi David!

    Really happy for you!

    That kind of healing work brings its own understandings and wisdoms and it enhances other types of healing and deepens embodiment of divine light.

    Yeah it is like frozen fragments of time and sense of self(s) that we find in this work. These parts are always protected and need some support to open up.

    Much love

    1. Hi Michael
      Yeah, I’ve been a bit of a lollipop, with the energy less in the body. A somatic approach requires a more embodied being. 🙂

      Frozen fragments of time and self are a great way to put it. Memory is part of the play.

  2. Harriet

    Really interesting post – thanks. By coincidence (probably not) I was thinking this morning about the role of the intellect, which seems to be both relative and absolute, to use those familiar old terms. What you are saying here seems to be that it is essentially absolute but becomes relative through ignorance of our deeper nature?

    1. Hi Harriet
      It’s not that the intellect becomes absolute as it’s inherently dualistic (discriminating either /or). But it comes to associate with the absolute. It’s also key in the Unity stage. It’s what recognizes what is arising in experience is also the Self, adding it to the wholeness.

      When associated with the mind, it’s relative to the ego and individuality.
      When associated with the Self, it’s relative to the absolute.

      We could say it’s relatively absolute and absolutely relative. 🙂

  3. Sharon

    I appreciate how Maharishi identifies 3 categories of pragyaparadh: delusion in the state of tamas, delusion in the state of rajas and delusion in the state of sattwa. He does this in his commentary on Chapter 4, verse 35 of the Gita and also describes the progression from one to the other. With his earlier teaching on using the 3 gunas and 5 mahabhutas to generate the 15 fundamental problems of life listed in Chapter 2, 18 fundamental problems then coincide with 18 chapters of the Gita. Very useful.

    1. Thanks, Sharon
      I looked at using that model for the above as different emotions and contractions have prominent gunas. (anger, rajas, for example) However, the reference is delusion in the context of dominant guna which unfolds on the spiritual journey. It’s not to specific emotions or contractions. The 3 basic contractions I listed don’t quite fit the gunas either.

      Great to add the model to the post though.

  4. harrison

    Wow, David there’s a lot of layers of insight in your article. The human condition is amazing in its complexity and its also amazing in the range of approaches to address this complexity from the “simplest form of awareness” to depth psychology. For many years I’ve been noticing a contraction
    and various associated emotions and beliefs that’s been mostly persistent despite the full range of these modalities. And, ideally the light of pure awareness as the observer will loosen any grip of false conditioning without the effort or strain of the personal self. Surrendering and not resisting or even resisting the resistance. Will sit with what you wrote and see what else might be indicated or called for to support the full resolution of this contraction. Thanks!

    1. Agreed, Harrison.
      Some contractions take ages to surface. The big ones often have layers of resistance to peel off around them. They can even relate to the big karmas of this life, putting them on a schedule of sorts to surface. We can’t force them out, but being conscious of the contraction does soften it, shifting that thick tamas gradually into flow.

      The one that surfaced when I initially did the somatic process became big and obvious but slow to let go as the actual contraction was under it. And it had that association with the old identity, adding another layer of stickiness. But a little patience, and coming back to it here and there, softened it up. Then it let go and poured out.

      For me, the intelligence within experience has become more conscious, so it’s a little easier to go into these details. But they’re not necessary to process whatever is arising.

      And of course, there are a few “special” ones, like the core identity that may surface near the Unity shift. 🙂

  5. Allen Dubner

    I really enjoyed this post about healing. You mentioned that big traumas need to be healed first before you can work deeply with these emotions with the methods you have been discussing. The thing is that everyone has had traumas starting possibly with the activity of birth and then we have all had our private wars in life that impact and imprint the physiology and may make it difficult to go deep with the methods you mentioned.
    I wanted to share a method that releases easily, simply the distortions that happen to our primal reflexes of our nervous system when we have trauma. I have found clearing these helps be able to do the deeper emotional healing work you have been speaking of.
    Here is a link to how to do these genle easy release exercises.
    In addition to this, another different helpful tool can be found by googling “Vagus nerve exercises.

    1. Hi Alan
      Yes, and there are big differences in how we each process a given trauma. Some will get through major stress relatively unscathed, where others will find minor influences deeply disturbing. This is especially so if we have related trauma in the system.

      A good base practice like an effortless meditation will help soften all of it. But it can be helpful to get guidance through the big ones. If we don’t have much settledness established, allowing in presence isn’t going to be possible. And if sensation awareness touches major trauma, that may be difficult. Some of my comments are basically caveats as I’m not a therapist or healer.

      I’m not familiar with this modality but it makes sense that getting in touch with our primal reflexes would be helpful. However, I’d caution anyone about seeking medical advice through Google. You want to use quality sources as there’s a lot of opinion and junk on the web. 🙂

  6. I edited the fourth and fifth paragraphs slightly to better reflect the usual process:
    1) the mistake of the intellect or identification is seen through (the binding influence).
    2) then the emotional/ energy contraction can become conscious and be processed.

    I go over this in more detail in an upcoming article “How Stress Becomes Identity”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest