|The subtle suffering in our lives may seem unimportant. But if we attend to the small ways that we suffer, we create a context of greater ease, peace, and responsibility, which can make it easier to deal with the bigger difficulties when they arise.|
- Gil Fronsdal, “Living Two Traditions”
Have you ever listened to your thoughts?
I mean really listened?
Take 5 minutes right now and open Pages or Word and just type whatever comes to mind.
Or scroll through your wall on facebook.
Really pay attention to what’s there.
Do you see (hear) your thinking?
Do you see (hear) the suffering there?
Listen carefully. . . I’m such an idiot (because your computer and ipad weren’t on the same network and wouldn’t sync).
I’m such a loser (because I’m tired at work and bored with what I do because it seems so meaningless).
You’re welcome! (when the person you let go through the stop sign and they don’t wave to you in thanks or acknowledgment).
What the hell’s wrong with you? (when the person in the right lane moves ahead of you in your lane and never uses a signal light AND slows down).
I’m such a slacker (spending one weekend in pain from a root canal and the next two weekends out flat with a migraine).
Do you hear it? Does it sound familiar?
Whining about the weather being too hot, too cold.
Not having enough money and wanting stuff that can really wait.
I keep crying, I’m such a baby (or one that bugs me. . . for you guys. . . when you say or think I’m crying like a little girl). . . because someone you love has died.
We bombard ourselves with stuff like this all day, all night, every day.
Would you talk to your kids this way? Your best friend? Would you let others talk to you this way?
There is a lot of talk today about bullying. . . and we need to talk about it.
And I think we need to first be aware of our own thinking and our own speech.
We can be pretty cruel and cause ourselves so much unnecessary suffering.
Life can be filled with pain, heartache, injustice, loss, and other tragedies. . . why do we add to all of this?
He questions, at one point, if we were able to have mercy for ourselves and acknowledge these little losses, would the losses of those we love be as big and hurt so much.
A new wound is most likely going to hurt more if it is at the point of a reopened wound.
So mindfulness helps us learn to acknowledge and bring into our full consciousness that which is usually below the surface, despite how much it can impact us.
With practice, we practice having compassion for these thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Even if it feels rote or fake, we go through the process until our barriers begin to melt and we can hold our pain, our grief, our illness in our conscious awareness and experience patience, compassion, and equanimity.
This isn’t an easy practice but it is a life saving one. And our very practice helps us to strengthen this life saving tool.
Listen to how you talk to yourself about your practice. . . do you make excuses for not getting on the cushion. Do you beat up on yourself when you have a “bad session”?
Great moments to practice patience.
Maybe it will be easier to practice compassion for yourself in these moment than when you are in the midst of intense emotions or safer than situations (or people) that are really hurtful.
Life is filled with pain, danger, illness, discomfort, and other difficulties. But it is vital to learn the difference between what is inherent because of the human condition of fragility and what is our own creation . . . our own layer of additional suffering.
And then of course, as those start to become clearer, mindfulness and lovingkindness give us the tools to transform suffering into peace.
- Podcast Moments: Gil Fronsdal, “The Ten Fetters” (polentical.com)
- Stop All the Self Help and Start Self Care (namasteconsultinginc.com)
- I’d love to tell you. . . (namasteconsultinginc.com)
- Just As Strong As I … Need to Be (grannyscolorful.wordpress.com)
- “Forgiveness is not a mandate” (namasteconsultinginc.com)
- 5 Strategies for Self-Compassion (psychcentral.com)
- Eight Things I Learned from Pain. (elephantjournal.com)