“Whatever you do, don’t try and escape from your pain, but be with it. Because the attempt to escape from pain creates more pain.” – The Tibetan book of Living and Dying.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of suffering lately. Many of people have gone through struggle, loss and up-upheaval this past year or years. Lots of healing and change and struggle is being called of us, from us, for us.
I have been un-well for some time and it’s gotten a hold of me. It’s bonded me and shackled me into the pain and discomfort and dare I say…self-pity. Here’s the bold truth…I’ve been struggling, I’ve been suffering. For some reason I have a hard time putting that out there, perhaps it feels vulnerable, the why of the matter I am unsure. I usually try and exude a positive, accepting vibe about my illness but lately…I just can’t. I haven’t been well. I’m having a small pity-party. (Or maybe a full blown romper lol).
Part of me wonders too if people don’t want to hear about suffering. We live in a society where people are uncomfortable with it, with pain, with loss, with heavy, dark emotion. We don’t like to hear about it or sit with it. Let’s face it, we’ve been taught not to talk about that stuff, not to burden other people with our problems.
People are uncomfortable with pain and often just want to offer an quick solution or idea so we can move us out of pain and suffering. The intention is absolutely loving but sometimes we just need to be held, to be offered space to feel darkness, sorrow and pain and that’s tough for many to offer because they don’t know how to do so for themselves.
So I’m aware that my pattern is that get quiet and isolate and battle with the struggle in a sword fight all on my own when I’m in pain or struggle. (This is why I’ve been quiet in my writing…sorry folks, it’s a bad pattern I’m working on). In fact, I want to own that I’m suffering and say it’s okay and that I need connection in suffering and I imagine you do to. I need to know I’m not alone and I’m learning that I absolutely am not!! And that we all have suffering, so let’s get talkin’ bout it and supporting each other while we move through it….yeah?! 🙂
What I’ve been learning and reading from Buddhist texts is that life is suffering. There will always be suffering, we all will suffer at various points in our life whether physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually and really all that we ought to do is accept this notion. There is suffering in life. Say it with me, “there is suffering in life.”
This is an easy and yet tough concept that I’ve been playing with. I’ve been trying to sit in my suffering, like really move into it. I close my eyes and settle into the suffering in my body and it’s weird…it dissipates, it softens,the edges sting less.
Perhaps it’s from not battling what is, there is a gentle release in my body. The defenses soften.
So, often when I’m “suffering” with physical discomfort or even emotional discomfort I try and battle my way out of it with thought or action or even will power. I positive affirmation out my yin-yang to try and pretend I am not suffering or to adjust out of it. I fight what is. I fight the truth of discomfort and pain while I try to cover the Truth with a lovely balmy protective salve, rather than accept and allow it. My mind and body separate, battle for control, argue and I end up exhausted, depleted and still feeling under the weather.
So the last few nights I’ve allowed my “suffering” to be my meditation. To soften and melt into it and allow the moments to be there. It is freeing! Like radically freeing. I even get a slight buzz on the inside, a elation, a joy, a meeting of sparkly truth that I can feel.
Here’s a brief summary on some Buddhist teachings (very brief) from http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/buddhism/bs-s03.htm
“Suffering is a fact of life. There are four unavoidable physical sufferings; birth, old age, sickness and death. There are also three forms of mental suffering; separation from the people we love; contact with people we dislike and frustration of desires. Happiness is real and comes in many ways, but happiness does not last forever and does not stop suffering. Buddhists believe that the way to end suffering is to first accept the fact that suffering is actually a fact of life.”
So on this Winter Solstice (in the Northern Hemisphere), and the darkest day of the year, I invite you into your own darkness, your own pains and wounds and simply let them be there. Melt into them for a few moments as a Sacred Witness to what is at this moment. Where do you feel struggle in your body? And can you just move into it, gently, softly, lovingly? See what happens. And like wise, move into your joy and happiness as it sways in your life as well. We will all move through the tides, the highs and lows of life. May we do so consciously, lovingly and with awareness and acceptance.
Simple Solstice Ritual:
On this lovely Solstice, get out your paper and pens. Light a lovely candle or two, perhaps some incense, get yourself a cup of tea and have a divine union with yourself and Creation on paper.
- What have been some of your struggles this past year? List them and underneath them, write about the gifts, the benefits, the positive outcome(s) of these struggles. What did you learn or acquire from the struggle?
- What were some of your highlights this year? What sacred and special moments really resonate in your soul and heart?
- What wishes do you have for yourself and the ones you love this coming season and year?
Enjoy this lovely day of darkness, retreat, rest, and reflection. I honor you and your path. I honor you and your joy as well as your suffering.
And so it is.
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