In spirituality we know that the pain and suffering that arises in our psyche is not who we are. It’s an echo of the past that has imprinted on our body and mind.
This is the foundation of any spiritual practice and also the source of so much confusion and misunderstanding. The flip side is that what arises here is also not separate from who we are.
In order for this to make sense we have to put a little bit of distance between me and “my suffering”. Just the right amount of distance but not too much distance. If we don’t put a bit of distance between us and our suffering we end up identified and stuck. In other words we believe ‘I am my suffering” or “suffering is all there is”. If we put too much distance we end up cold, disassociated and numb. In other words “I am separate from my suffering” and we are unable to bridge the gap between suffering and freedom from suffering.
I like to define just the right amount of distance as the tender and attentive listening of a wise and benevolent friend.
With this little shift we change the entire experience and trajectory of our existence from suffering to one of alchemy. We are here as an expression of love through which everything returns to it’s original Source.
How does it return? It returns through us.
This is the miracle of our existence.
“The way to dissolve our resistance to life is to meet it face to face. When we feel resentment because the room is too hot, we could meet the heat and feel its fieriness and its heaviness. When we feel resentment because the room is too cold, we could meet the cold and feel its iciness and its bite. When we want to complain about the rain, we could feel its wetness instead. When we worry because the wind is shaking our windows, we could meet the wind and hear its sound. Cutting our expectations for a cure is a gift we can give ourselves. There is no cure for hot and cold. They will go on forever. After we have died, the ebb and flow will still continue. Like the tides of the sea, like day and night—this is the nature of things. Being able to appreciate, being able to look closely, being able to open our minds—this is the core of maitri [loving-kindness].” ~ Pema Chodron
To bring this into your experience today I will give you a simple little practice that you can do several times a day. It’s simple but the impact can be profound.
Even the deepest suffering will soften in your presence when you realize that you are the tender and unconditional space that pain arises in.
- Take several little pauses throughout your day.
- Create a tiny little distance by imagining yourself as a wise and beloved friend turning towards what hurts.
Listen gently. The hurt might be emotional or it might be felt in painful sensations or tension.
And simply notice what happens.
This is a shift that takes time and may benefit from the support of a skilled practitioner. There are other pieces that can be added to this practice to support settling and release of tension.
If you are curious about this but find it difficult to make the shift please reach out for help.
All of Candace’s services are Trauma, PTSD, Complex Grief, Chronic Illness and Benzo withdrawal symptom sensitive.