If you live a life, you will experience suffering. It is inevitable. Everyone must experience suffering. It is part and parcel of living a human life. Feeling angry, afraid, guilty, jealous, grief-ridden is a part of the human experience. You will feel it. Know that any happy feeling you have now will pass. As will any suffering you’re experiencing. The impermanence of life is also part and parcel of living a human life.
We have no control over whether or not we will experience suffering. We have no control over the impermanence of life. So what do we have control over? Our reaction to the suffering.
We all have a choice on how we react to the hurt feelings, or the rush of anger or the anticipation of fear. Unconsciously, we tend to struggle against the suffering. We thrash and writhe against the unfairness, the hatred, the grief. We push it down, mask it, leave it in the dark and let it plague us as we try to sleep. We do not acknowledge it, accept it, hold it, relax into it.
The truth of our world is that we have chosen to label certain emotions as bad and others as good. And then we decided that we can only ever feel the good ones. And if we start to feel the bad ones, then we must do everything in our power to fight against or run away from them.
But suffering is a part of life. We must and will experience it. And maybe it’s not bad to feel upset or afraid. Maybe it just is. Could we possibly accept every emotion just as it is?
If we know that suffering is inevitable and we know that it is not bad to suffer, we can instead find peace with suffering. We can relax into it. When the wellspring of fear seems to be approaching, learn to be still and present to it. Breathe with the feeling, hold it in your heart, relax into it.
What you will discover is an ease that was previously impossible. Your emotions stop being an emergency. There is no longer any urgency to suffering. Suffering was never a problem that needed to be solved. There is a relaxation, the relief of a deep sigh. A sense of calmness will prevail as you relax into the suffering.
And as we relax into it, we also free up a lot of energy. All that momentum that was used to shove those thoughts down inside of yourself will be at your disposal again. You won’t be exhausted by the effort of fighting against yourself. You will have the energy to engage in the world more. Getting into a healthy routine will start to feel good. Relaxing into suffering means finding peace and passion.
Suffering is a part of the human experience, something we cannot get away from. But rather than trying to solve the “problem” of suffering, take a deep breath. And learn to relax into it.