noticing and allowing: “… Spiritual practice can be boiled down to two simple instructions … notice your experience and be curious about it … {and} … know that whatever you are experiencing is the right experience and therefore to allow it — to surrender to it …”   ~ Nirmala

noticing nirmala river forest

To just notice whatever the moment is “offering” … and then … without any attempt to interfere …. just allow it to simply be … apparently this approach to life leads to the absence of suffering … but can it be that simple? …

The answer, at least as per Nirmala, is yes! … though unfortunately this “simple key” tends to escape most of us 🙁

Why? … ‘course, there are many answers … but if we observe – or dare I say “notice” 🙂 – the “modern life” the answer seems obvious …modern human culture is largely characterized by “I’ll do ‘now’ later” ?! … so noticing and allowing are practically non-existent, at least for a large part of humanity.

Even so, it can not be denied that dissolving suffering is not easy – just look (“observe” or again “notice”) at the human history – both at collective or individual levels … despite “tips/techniques” offered by all the wisdom traditions

nothing personal nirmalaToday, for this post, we’ll leave aside the larger topic of “dissolving suffering is not easy” … and instead briefly explore Nirmala’s perspective on noticing and allowing through his book, Nothing Personal, that is best summed up by an excerpt from Adyashanti’s Introduction:

“… The beauty of this collection of Nirmala’s talks and dialogues is that it covers much of the spectrum of spiritual awakening, from the initial experience of one’s true nature to the practical challenges, which always call for a deeper seeing and deeper understanding of how spirit manifests as all of life and beyond. Within these talks and dialogues you, the reader, will find Nirmala to be a living invitation to look within …”

This post will, hopefully, whet your appetite to Nirmala’s views on “noticing and allowing.” In the near future, we will go on a deep dive into Nirmala’s exploration of this topic through a series based on excerpts from Nothing Personal … meantime, read on, see what you think, … and stay tuned for more …

All text below is from Nirmala’s book and is published here with his permission.

There are two simple instructions, or invitations, in satsang. The first is to notice your experience: Really notice what’s happening right now. The second is to know that it’s the right experience. Whatever you notice, whatever you find, that’s the right experience. You thought you had to fix it or improve it, but it turns out that whatever you are experiencing right now is the right experience. A friend of mine has a friend who answers every question about how things are going with “Right on schedule!”

You don’t have to wait to do these steps. You can start right now. Notice your experience—what’s happening? Bring your awareness, your attention, your curiosity to bear on your experience right now. Secondly, just allow that experience to be the way it is. Stop the endless effort to try to change it, to make it better or different or more or less. Just let it be the way it is.

noticing ocean sunrise nirmala

To the extent that you’re doing those two things, there will an absence of suffering. And, of course, the opposite is true: You will suffer to whatever extent your attention and curiosity are focused on what is not or to whatever extent you are trying to fix, change, resist, or avoid this moment.

Actually you can’t do either of these completely unless you’re doing the other, so these two instructions are really only one. You can’t fully notice your experience if you’re already trying to change it or get rid of it. And you can’t fully allow and embrace your experience if you’re not paying attention to it.

One thing that’s not required is seeking the right experience. The instructions are not to notice a particular experience or to notice an experience you’ve heard about or read about or once had that you want to have again. It’s simply to notice the experience that you’re having right now. There’s no need to seek or search for a better experience than the one you’re having.

If, however, in this moment, you are desperately trying to get a better experience or resisting the one you’re having or paying attention to some idea about how things should be instead of how they are, then that’s your experience. You don’t even have to go to battle with that. Just notice what that’s like.

What is it like when you’re lost in a juicy fantasy about how great life will be if only this or that would happen?

fantasy nirmala

Or a juicy fear about how terrible life will be if this or that happens? The invitation is to notice what that’s like rather than resisting that fantasy. Just notice what it’s like to fantasize. Include the experience of being lost in longing and searching and fantasizing as well as the content of your fantasy. What is the experience of being lost in an idea? The point isn’t to stop having ideas, which isn’t even possible, but to simply notice what that’s like. When you stop and notice, you find a lot of fantasizing going on. Most of us have an ongoing mental commentary going on about how our lives could be better or worse. What’s that like when your attention is involved with these ideas?

We’re always noticing something. I challenge you to not pay attention to anything for the next ten seconds. You can’t do it. Noticing just happens. It turns out that these two simple steps are qualities of your Being, not something extra you have to do. Noticing is always happening, even if all we’re noticing is the content of an idea. The invitation is to let that noticing take in more—take in the actual experience moment to moment. It may seem like a doing at first, but in the doing of it, it’s more like you’re being done, like you’re being noticed along with everything else.

take in experience moment sunset sky nirmala

The same is true with allowing your experience: It is also natural to your Being. Right in this moment, your predominant experience is allowing. In this moment, the vast majority of what’s happening in this room is okay with you. You’re allowing the walls of this room to be the way they are. You’re allowing the furniture to be the way it is. You’re allowing your breath to breathe the way it is. In fact, you can reject only one aspect of your experience at a time; the rest is naturally allowed. You can only resist one thing at a time.

These two simple instructions are not something you need to do. The point in speaking about them is to get you to notice that noticing and allowing are already happening. This space of allowing is already present. It’s so present that it even allows us to be in battle with what is. That’s something you can get curious about.

How much am I allowing what is and how much am I struggling against what is?

What is it like if you just allow yourself even to not allow?

~ Nirmala


You can download a FREE PDF copy of Nothing Personal  from Nirmala’s website .

Nirmala’s Stillness Speaks Teacher Page will be coming soon... a brief excerpt from his website bio is offered here: After a lifetime of spiritual seeking, Nirmala met his teacher, Neelam, a devotee of H.W.L. Poonja (Papaji). She convinced him that seeking wasn’t necessary; and after experiencing a profound spiritual awakening in India, he began offering satsang and Nondual Spiritual Mentoring with Neelam’s blessing. This tradition of spiritual wisdom has been most profoundly disseminated by Ramana Maharshi, a revered Indian saint, who was Papaji’s teacher.

“Nirmala offers satsang in gratitude for the love and grace that flow through his teachers, Neelam and Adyashanti, and for the Truth brought to this world by Ramana Maharshi and H.W.L. Poonja. Advaita satsang is offered as a celebration of the possibility, in every moment, of recognizing the truth of who we are. Nirmala offers a unique vision and a gentle, compassionate approach, which adds to this rich tradition of inquiry into the truth of Being.”~ excerpt from Nirmala’s website.

Here’s Adyashanti on Nirmala: “What is appealing about Nirmala is his humility and lack of pretense, which welcomes whatever arises within the field of experience. In the midst of this welcoming is always an invitation to inquire deeply within, to the core of who and what you are. Again and again, Nirmala points the questions back to the questioner and beyond to the very source of existence itself-to the faceless awareness that holds both the question and the questioner in a timeless embrace.” ~ excerpt from Nirmala’s website.

Images: (edited and logo added): Featured and 1) Small river flows through the rocks in the green forest by diew, 2) Stony Creek meets the ocean at sunrise by lovleah, 3) Autumn fantasy girl by Subbotina, 4) Evening sky at sunset above Mobile Bay on the Alabama Gulf Coast  by gtd7. 1) purchased from depositphotos, 2) purchased from YAYImages. All are for use only on our website/social channels (these images are not permitted to be shared separate from this post).
Nirmala’s image sourced from his website.


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