HOW TO TRANSFORM SUFFERING WITH MEDITATION AND MINDFULNESS
Sometimes, faced with the immensity of creation, we can contact our true eternal nature, smile and let what is superfluous evaporate, to flourish in a constant transformation.
The great secret to living in peace is recognizing and transforming suffering, not running away from it. A difficult purpose to pursue. Pain scares us and the society in which we live suggests many ways to avoid looking deeply at what torments us. There are those who use food to avoid feeling the suffering, those who get stunned by television or smartphones, alcohol or other mass distraction tools.
THE ORIGIN OF SUFFERING
Every small child who begins to manifest himself seeks the approval and recognition of his parents at the same time as a small plant seeks water, light and air.
When a quality is not accepted and recognized, perhaps because the parents want the child to be like this or there, the child is left with nothing but to modify himself, repressing or denying this unaccepted quality, because he needs their love and recognition.
This strategy has been automated over the years in the thoughts and emotions of the adult we have become, forming our Ego. So we suffer because we have an identity to protect. We are afraid because it can be threatened at any time by circumstances that you cannot control. We get angry because we don’t get the right attention from others and all of this becomes a burden that oppresses us moment by moment.
We start looking for the ego: not in others – which does not concern us – but in ourselves. Whenever we feel unhappy, mean, we immediately close our eyes: we try to find out where this unhappiness originates, and each time we will discover that our false center has entered into conflict with someone.
SUFFERING AND HAPPINESS ARE NOT SEPARATED
When we suffer, we tend to think that in that moment there is only suffering and that happiness belongs to another place and another time. We often ask ourselves ‘Why do I have to suffer?‘. Thinking that we should be able to lead a life completely free of suffering is an illusion as thinking that we should be able to have a left side without a right side. The same is true if we think we have a life in which there is absolutely no kind of happiness. Just as if there is no right there is no left either in the same way where there is no suffering there is also no happiness and vice versa.
Through constant practice we learn how to transform suffering with meditation, training our insight and learning to see how both suffering and happiness are present in every moment and understanding how to get in touch with them. Every day by meditating and deeply observing the body, senses, thoughts and emotions in the here and now we take a step forward to understand that suffering and happiness are not two separate things.
If you want to learn more about the specific techniques on how to transform suffering with meditation, I talk about it here.
MENTAL PRESENCE: MEDICINE THAT HEALS
Mindfulness is the best way to be with your suffering without being overwhelmed by it. Mindfulness teaches us how to transform suffering because it is the ability to dwell in the present moment, to direct attention in a non-judgmental way to what is happening in the here and now. When we breathe in and know that we are breathing in, this is awareness. When we take a step and we know we are taking it, that is awareness. Awareness is always awareness of something; it is the energy that helps us to be aware of what is happening right here and now, in our body, in the sensations, in the perceptions and all around us. Read more about the power of here and now here.
With awareness, you can recognize the presence of suffering in yourself and in the world. It is with that same energy that you tenderly embrace suffering. Being aware of the inhalation and exhalation, the energy of mindfulness is generated, which allows you to continue to lull your suffering. Those who practice mindfulness can help support each other in the work of recognizing, embracing and transforming suffering.
With mindfulness we are no longer afraid of pain; we can even go further and make good use of suffering to generate the energy of understanding and compassion that heals us, and we can help others heal and also be happy.
Thich Nhat Hanh
PRACTICE AWARENESS IS THE EQUAL TO PRACTICE LOVE
Loving yourself means more than just loving yourself and hoping for positive things to happen. Love for ourselves is a practice, an art and none of us have learned to practice it from an early age. Through meditative practice we train our ability to observe our own mind and to lovingly welcome our emotions to develop true love for us, that is, love for the aspects of us that we do not love, that we hide, that we try to forget, that we deny and fight.
The practice of love for ourselves opens the door to a life without any lack because when we fully love ourselves, life no longer needs to reflect the lack of love for ourselves in various situations of scarcity. The fullness of love will express itself in an abundance of joy in our life.
Here is a guided meditation to practice loving attention to yourself, a practice to understand exactly how to transform suffering with meditation: