By: Monica Daza-Stephan
Is suffering an innate part of the human experience?
During this past year, we have experienced different degrees of suffering, suppression, loss, grief, anxiety, sadness, depression, anger or a combination of all of the above. Arriving into this planet via the painful and holy act of birth can be considered the beginning of the act of suffering. The last 12 months, we have felt an immense feeling of “global suffering” which is a different kind of sorrow we may have experienced alone, with family or as a community. This fact has impacted humanity, bringing us together beyond race and traditions, including socioeconomic status and gender differences; something that this generation hasn’t ever lived before.
Historically, after war, famine, holocaust or pandemic, society feels a deep sense of loss which brings on austerity, lack of identity, beliefs, and habits of what we once knew. This can bring new opportunities to start over again, such as beginning a new life by going back to school or changing a career path; a new vision of how to adapt to an ever evolving new world.
Can pain be nourishing?
We can agree that this unexpected pause in the global community has made us detour from our attention to our inner life. Your spiritual life is as important, if not more rich than our external life, because it happens exclusively to us. Nobody can feel, connect, see, smell, touch and taste the flavour of your own inner landscape better than you. At times, our inner life can be nourished by conflict and deep sorrow once we accept ourselves to move forward when the stormy weather has passed.
Struggles from anxiety and/or depression are an unexpected ways to process something that you no longer need. This could be an opportunity to release an old part of your identity that has come to an end and is asking for your permission for a transition to occur. If we look at anxiety and depression as strong mental states and not as disorders, the challenges that present itself can teach us resolution and healing in order to continue in our evolutionary path on Earth.
Can we invite the act of being present with our emotions, instead of rejecting them? We can lean toward them with genuine curiosity, self-compassion in a non-judgemental approach. This creates room to open up to what is there to inform us. Like in a well-needed yoga posture, if we force our way into it, our breath will be shallow, our nerve system will go into overdrive and the muscles will tighten further. With the opposite approach, we can observe and surrender our limits; consequently, your breath will lengthen, your nerve system will relax, the tension in the muscles will soften, allowing your body to transition into your well-needed posture with minimal effort.
Letting go of control of your life can be challenging. If you set this as a realistic goal, you can cross over the first barricade when you surrender to what is present for you to experience. We can lose the role of victim and stop ourselves from asking, “why is this happening to me and not to …” Embrace life for what it is as “an intelligent dynamic force, continuously evolving and this evolution happens with or without our consentment.”
Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment”.- Eckhart Tolle.
Put on your detective hat and assess your feelings
- What is my anxiety or depression trying to show me? Teach me?
How can I overcome my mental struggles instead of numbing my pain?
What is the quality of my inner life?
Can I exist beyond my anxiety and depression?
What are the things that don’t define my humanity?
What layers of life am I not?
How “Compassion” can alleviate suffering
In the recent Science & Wisdom of Emotions Summit 2021, led by most renowned scientists, scholars and meditators from the Eastern and Western traditions all came together and shared their wisdom and practices on how Compassion can be the catalyst to generate change in the field of emotions.
Compassion is defined as the innate ability to show concerns for others, we are all interdependent more than we can possibly imagine. Our suffering is the same, and we all wish to be happy. So we can turn around and offer the gift of compassion to ourselves when we suffer.
The mindfulness practice of R.A.I.N. is effective to process intense emotions.
Basically, we can tap into our emotions for whatever they feel, whether difficult or pleasant. Using RAIN, we can Recognize, Accept, Inquiring with gentleness and care, and finally Nurture with is more required from us to attend and soften.
When we open the welcoming mat to our emotions, accepting for what they are: part of the human experience, we can start to connect with our tender heart or the more vulnerable part of the self, from this place we can create a more safe container for that emotion to coexist with us without judgment but, more of an attitude of “I see you “Doubt, Shame, Jealousy, Hate, Anger, Blame” you also belong here.
You are part of my emotions, but I am not this ” anger, doubt, shame”
With Gentle inquiry actitud, we can notice, what does it need from us? What is not taken care of and attend to it. With curiosity we can investigate and connect with that part of the body that is holding that grip to it, then we can breathe in and out from that place to release the pattern that has been stored in the body.
Nurture the emotion, it’s like letting compassion and love for the self be there to flood your inner experience. If you cannot access it, it is okay to invite someone that loves you and accept you, this can be a friend, a pet or someone that you feel connected and safe with.
In a nutshell, compassion is good for ourselves, it creates more space for others.
We feel more expansive and less closed.
It allows to pay attention of the suffering of others
It creates more space to experiment our human condition
It brings purpose serving beyond ourselves expanding our narrow view
It uplifts us with more energy, purpose and fulfillment helping others
According to Thupten Jimpa. PhD, Chairman and founder of The Compassion Institute, the trembling of the heart is the capacity or the tenderness to care for others, the loving kindness to wish others well.
Compassion is not an emotion, rather is an actitud, like a seed it can be cultivated if we feed it in the fertile soil of the consciousness.
Like the saying goes” the more we practice Compassion the better we become”.
How will you practice compassion today? Tell me about your practices?