Suffering

The intention of this blog is to pose questions that might grab your attention and also to share some of my own experiences.

Sometimes people are disempowered by their own thoughts and emotions. That is to say – they experience toxic thoughts with attached feelings that seem to be painful and cause discomfort.  The most common responses are to either (1) attempt to escape the pain or (2) indulge in it.

The escape option might turn out to be a flight into more work, shopping or Christmas activities. It could also involve using an excess of powerful substances like alcohol, drugs or food. In this context, these substances are used as a desperate attempt to get away from the mental discomfort.

The indulgence option is simply to wallow in these negative thoughts and emotions so that they ‘eat away’ at a person’s psyche.  That might generate more powerful energies such as anger and hate, or render someone neutralized – unable to move or act at all.

But what if there were a third way of responding? What if you moved right into the aggravating thoughts and emotions and allowed them to be? What if you had the courage to experience them fully? In experiencing them fully, what if space was created around them – and stillness. What if you allowed the silence that resides within to totally envelope and absorb these thoughts and emotions?

What would that look like?  Perhaps just sitting down, closing your eyes, listening to your breathing and effortlessly staying present to what was actually arising inside.  What if the disturbing mental factors became like just one drop of tea entering the Pacific Ocean? What if they were transformed into something miraculous? Isn’t that possibility worth a try?

In my own case, I often turn to food when experiencing thoughts and emotions that make me uncomfortable. When that happens, my eating is not in response to hunger. Certain foods allow me to momentarily ‘escape’ – they shift my mood, appear to nourish me and alter my body chemistry.  But invariably this approach lowers my energy. Not only that – the suffering invariably comes back later with an added burden of guilt.

If I meditate right at the moment when the cravings are most intense, the suffering can be transformed into presence and calmness. That is my practice. Simply falling back into a vast silence within and allowing the disturbing thoughts and feelings to be, without doing anything other than watching, is an alchemical process for me.  My turmoil is transformed into a golden inner sense of peace. Instead of suffering I am then more fully alive and more fully present.