“Pain in life is inevitable, but suffering is not.” —Buddha
by Jion Sommer, Living Proof Naturally, Whole Food Plant-based Health Coach, Reiki Practitioner & Meditation Teacher
Suffering and happiness are not separate.
When we are in pain we feel the pain and suffering and we believe and accept this to be the way of it. When we are suffering we think that the suffering is now, in this very moment and that happiness belongs to some other place and time.
When we learn to see and engage with both the presence of suffering and happiness we will go in the direction of enjoying life more.
Here is a Buddhist teaching on the Four Noble Truths:
1. The First Noble Truth recognizes the existence of suffering, which we tend to deny. Resisting or denying the existence of suffering only increases it. Recognizing suffering is the first step to letting go of the suffering that accompanies chronic pain.
2. The Second Noble Truth is that the cause of suffering is clinging and attachment, especially to ourselves as real and permanent. When pain flares up we can be very self-identified and go into attachment to self and then to self-pity. In meditation, when we let go of the focus on self and the direct experience of pain and suffering, we will have an immediate relief and spaciousness.
3. The Third Noble Truth is there is relief from suffering. Focusing on the pain itself, rather than clinging to it as something unique to yourself, leads to the cessation of suffering.
4. The Fourth Noble Truth is there is freedom from suffering. Working directly with the energy of physical pain can become your path out of the suffering that accompanies physical pain. By practicing meditation and developing wisdom we can take the journey to freedom from suffering.
Try this exercise:
- Focus on the pain and breathe in to it.
- Explore the pain with some curiosity: Where is it? What’s the shape, size, color? Is it hot or cold?
- Notice how it shifts and moves — this is a good reminder of impermanence and that everything changes.
When working with pain directly we are in the present moment most fully. Our thoughts, judgements and resistance are gone and so is the suffering we added to the pain with these thoughts. In that moment we are liberated from our suffering.
May All Beings Benefit.