“There are two kinds of suffering. There is the suffering you run away from, which follows you everywhere. And there is the suffering you face directly, and in doing so become free.” – Ajan Chah
Much of our lives are spent escaping through alcohol, drugs, T.V., phones… anything to take us away from suffering in the present moment. I say “our” because I am not above any of these vices. I love mindless phone scrolling as much as the next person (but I’m working on it).
Anyway, the truth is, no matter how much we try to escape, avoid, or dull our suffering, it will follow us like a puppy. We have to sit with puppy and rub its belly for a while before it will finally scamper off. We must embrace and accept our suffering. Otherwise it will just bark louder, becoming harder and harder to ignore.
Sitting with suffering isn’t easy, and it doesn’t need to happen all at once. Start small, embracing sadness or anger or anxiety for just a few seconds before returning to usual distractions. Next time, try 10 seconds. Then 30 seconds. Then try sitting with your pain until it lessens, however long that takes.
Suffering is much more bearable when you have a supportive person in your life, whether that be a friend, family member, or therapist. You might talk to them about what you’re feeling or going through, or you might just spend time with them, not talking at all. Experiment and discover what you need to feel better. It might vary based on the day or the extent of your suffering.
As always, feel free to take whatever is helpful from these quotations and blog posts, and leave anything that is not helpful. You are the expert on what you need. And please comment or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any feedback. I would love to hear from you.
Wishing you a mindful Monday,