They are all meant to bring wisdom and contentment into our lives, but must be responded to in a skillful manner.
Suffering doesn’t just go away. It’s up to us what it becomes. The root word for suffering is, “to allow.” What will we allow it become? It’s not a fixed deal.
There are times in life when something really gets under our skin and we can deny the pain no longer. We have been pierced in a tender and vulnerable spot—and it hurts!
This pain is really birthing something new, though it seems totally unnecessary.
Suffering tells us that something within is waiting to be born. Birthing is messy, risky and painful. But it calls us and won’t wait.
It may even feel as if we are being crucified. But crucifixion is also the middle of the story—not the end. The resurrection follows!
When we are hurting, we need to find a way through this pain—and it isn’t numbing out or running away.
Transformation requires that we allow ourselves to feel all that is going on in our hearts and minds, which may require that we get under the armor that we have used for protection. This runs counter intuitive to old knee jerk reactions of fighting or fleeing from pain.
Instead we allow ourselves to breathe into our hearts and explore our fears. We feel into our heart. And we stop telling the story—our interpretation about what is happening.
Just let the feelings be what they are without trying to fix them or act them out. Simply sit with them and breathe. Allow.
We allow what is to be what it is at this moment without fighting or running from it, or thinking how awful it is and that it will surely last forever.
Interpretations and stories about the suffering are one step away from what is taking place within us, and cannot be healed from that distance.
We must touch our pain with compassion and openness—just be willing to be with what is without dramatizing it or finding reasons for it.
Just let it be, breathe, acknowledging what is actually taking place, and consciously breathe again—deeply.
In doing this over and over we will gradually feel more spacious and eventually open to something greater.
But this takes time. It takes intention. And it takes effort.
It is responding to, rather than reacting.
Suffering is turned into compassion and wisdom as we cultivate tolerance for our fears by patiently tending to our wounds.
Losses create wounds. Each loss triggers all previous unresolved losses.
Sometimes we grieve over something that seems so trivial that we consider our sadness irrational, without cause. But the cause is within us, probably unconscious. This is the shadow that Dr. Carl Jung spoke of.
The shadow lives in the dark and remains unrecognized until we are willing to bring it into consciousness.
It has arisen because of hidden causes that we paid little or no attention to until our world seemed to come apart. We have been ignoring that which is vital—our hearts!
This is not a one-time doing. We cultivate love, courage, generosity, forgiveness over time.
Forgiveness does not mean ignoring harmful behavior because we don’t know what to do about it.
Forgiveness is a practice of awareness what is taking place and finding non violent ways of responding to it.
Forgiveness includes accountability.
It includes listening with an open mind. Really listen. When we can ask what the other person fears, and hear them out without defending ourself, we may discover we have similar fears. This brings common ground.
Shared suffering brings compassion.
If the other can’t or won’t speak to us, we can (and need to) listen to ourselves to find the roots of our sadness, anger and feelings of alienation. They are within us—not caused by something outside us—and need to be brought into the light for healing.
Old survival methods of running away and/or fighting have been passed down to us, but they won’t bring a transformation.
Now is the time for a new action.
The way out of difficulty is “in and through.” We allow ourselves to feel our pain without wallowing in it.
An ongoing practice I have done in one form or another over many years is to touch my heart and speak to the child within that is hurting. I say, “Honey. I know you’re hurting. And I’m here for you. I’m sitting right here with you, and I won’t go away. You can count on me.”
I don’t have to fix, explain or pretend it will be better tomorrow. This is as good as it gets, and this moment of compassion is enough.
As I continue this process something within me knows I am being listened to. This little child doesn’t feel alone anymore.
When someone says, “It’s time to get over it. You can choose to feel differently if you want to,” This inner child knows he/she hasn’t been listened to with compassion. Instead they were judged.
No, compassion truly feels the pain of the other and is willing to sit with them, sharing their pain. It’s our pain—doesn’t belong to anyone alone. It’s all part of the quantum soup we live in.
None of us knows the future. Who would have thought the Phoenix Bird could arise so magnificently from the ashes? Who would have thought beauty and new life would emerge from this terrible pain?
No—suffering is not the end of the story.
Compassionate word by compassionate word, loving deed by loving deed, we write the end of the story.
And then something new is born!