Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Embrace Of Suffering

Everyone suffers. Some more loudly than others. Some more often than others. Some have made it a way of life and frankly, seem to thrive on it. Suffering seems to be an endless quality of humanity. A quality that makes us uncomfortable even when we are not the ones who suffer. Since happiness is not possible in every moment of a life, suffering, in its infinite manifestations, would serve us best if it was embraced.
It is the resistance to suffering that prolongs it. It is the resistance to the pain or the grief or the depression that allows it to endure. Suffering is meant to be a transition. A transition to a more refined state of self-understanding. We learn more about ourselves in a state of despair than we do when we are flying high. Or even coasting merrily along.
Suffering cracks open a doorway to our inner-most selves, the secret God-essence that few us take the time to acknowledge. Suffering is meant to cleanse and purify us. It is an alchemical process that refines our character and our soul. It leads us to an understanding of our greatest wants and needs and desires. But, because it is grossly uncomfortable, most of us seek to crush it down, drown it out, shop it, eat it and drink it into oblivion. We become addicted to the avoidance of suffering, and so it never ends.
Instead, if we could just summon the courage to sit with our pain, to acknowledge our pain, to feel it and allow it to burn, we would move beyond it at an astonishing rate. If we could just stop telling ourselves, "I shouldn't feel this way" or " I will appear weak before others if I allow myself to feel" or "oh my God, why did this happen to me?", if we could accept that we have the right to feel the pain and learn from it and use it to mold a stronger life, we would diminish our addictions and our forays into insanity. We would stop living a defensive life and start living a life that embraces. That partakes. That receives infinite bounty.
The courage to sit with, acknowledge, feel and burn the suffering comes from the breath. Next time we begin the cycle of suffering, if we could simply breathe loudly and rhythmically for 10 seconds, our suffering lessens. We consciously shift our whole selves out of the sting and at the same time allow ourselves to feel it more deeply. Breathe as loud as we can, and allow the breath to get us through it, because there is no getting around it. It is the attempt to get around it that impairs us.
Let's not avoid our suffering any longer. Let's be brave and feel our way through it. Let's use the simplest tool of the breath to aid us in our quest. Let's come out the other side more stable, more able and more compassionate towards ourselves. Let's give ourselves permission to feel and permission to heal.


  1. this is such a wonderful post
    Graciel ~ I have been through
    such suffering :) and
    made a decision on the very first
    day when it arrived to
    pay it off with grace ~ and
    I did everyday ~ returning love
    to each drop of sorrow until...

    amazingly it began to go out with
    the tide ~ not all of it of course ~
    some things are left behind...
    little shells of the experience...

    but you are so right ~ the
    only way out is through ~
    and you can choose how you go
    through that:)


  2. This is so lovely and so true. I have recently been making a concerted effort to be patient in those moments where I feel myself stumble into negative patterns, bouts of sadness, etc. Resistance absolutely prolongs the suffering...I could not agree more.

  3. I am very young, but have been through my share of suffering and I know that it is not a pleasant feeling. But this post makes me think that the suffering has made me a better person. I feel like I can endure a lot more because of what I have gone through.

  4. There is a lot of wisdom here. But my sticking point is in the suffering for which there *is* no way "through it", that is consistently present and infuses every part of your life. What do you do?


I always appreciate the time you take to comment on my blog. Thank you for stopping by. Peace from my heart to yours. xo, Graciel