There is an unavoidable, tragic aspect to life. We all suffer. We experience the loss of a loved one, we feel physical and emotional pain, loneliness, and longing, just to name a few. The good news is that we have the ability to relieve our suffering, because suffering is a state of mind.
We have the ability to change our state of mind - the way we perceive things. Our body experiences sensations, thoughts, and feelings, but our mind is what responds to these. Our mind's reaction to physical pain, for example, and the emotions it triggers in response to it, are often more challenging than the physical experience of pain and illness.
Our mind typically responds with the fight-or-flight response. This response takes place in the most primitive part of our brain and underlies our emotional turmoil. It is the mind saying no to what is happening while simultaneously trying to run away from it. The problem is that there is nowhere to run to because the perceived threat is not coming from somewhere outside of us.
One of my teachers, Bruce Tift, teaches us to sit with an unpleasant feeling; exploring it; allowing it; and not trying to change it. Instead of trying to change what we are experiencing in any given moment, we have the option to explore what is happening with curiosity. Even asking, "where in my body am I feeling this?" "Is it going to actually harm me?" "What is it doing now?" By doing this, we are allowing the feeling or sensation to fully express itself and move through us, instead of fighting it, suppressing it, getting it stuck, and then dealing with it again when it inevitably resurfaces.
Instead of bringing happiness and joy from the inside, most people seem to be seeking happiness from the outside. No one is happy all of the time. It's a feeling that comes and goes (again, based on what our mind tells us about our experience) just like all other feelings come and go.
If we decide we have a wonderful life, we do. If we decide this life is a tragedy, then it is. It amazes me that although we have the power to choose the former perception, many choose the latter. One of my favorite films is Happy, a documentary where the filmmaker travels the world, looking at which cultures are the happiest, and what makes this so. It reveals that many of the cultures that are the happiest and have lives that we would consider impoverished.
Instead of searching for happiness and peace, consider searching for truth. Truth that is within you, that can be found through your own personal experience. Not belief, opinion, dogma....truth.
Truth is a holy thing because it liberates thought from itself
and illumines the human heart from the inside out.
I write about human behavior, meditation, body awareness, and a variety of other things that pique my interest.