Posts Tagged With: pain
By Leo Babauta
Sometimes, life just wallops us against the head, deals us with such a blow that it takes our breath away.
A loved one dies, you lose a job, someone you care about gets sick, your car gets totaled, or hopelessness hits you.
What do we do when the world around us crumbles, when we can’t seem to find a way out?
The times when things are falling apart are exactly the best times to practice mindfulness and compassion. These are the times we’re preparing for, in a way, when we meditate regularly with mindfulness and compassion, during the non-traumatic times.
The times when the world is collapsing are the richest areas of exploration, and when we need the tools most.
So the way to work with these times is this:
Stay with the pain. Don’t run from it, don’t try to do anything about it, but face it with courage.
Stay with the bodily feeling, dropping below your story, and smile at it, be friendly with it, have the braveness to just be with it like you would with a friend who’s hurting.
Do it in small doses if that’s all you can handle. Do it with patience, noticing that your mind wants to run. Keep coming back, and you’ll earn trust in yourself to stay with the hard feelings.
Eventually, you see that the feelings aren’t so bad, that you can stay with them and the world won’t end, that they’ll go away like a passing cloud, that these feelings and thoughts aren’t you but just passing phenomena. You’ll start to take them less seriously, see that they’re No Big Deal, hold them lightly, give them space in your mind.
When the world is falling apart, this is the time to practice.
Forgiveness is difficult; maybe one of the most painful emotions to get through. After being betrayed, bullied, abused, or forgotten, being able to forgive can be worse than the actual reason forgiveness is needed.
Here’s what I do know. Not forgiving someone, even yourself, can make you sick; physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Yes, I know you’ve probably heard that before, but I’m here to tell you that it is true. You might as well take a ‘sickness pill’ and decide that you’re ready to go because eventually it will harm you. And if it doesn’t kill you, it definitely changes you through the wall that you build around yourself.
What is even sadder about not forgiving is that the person who you are trying to forgive, many times, doesn’t even care that you have been hurt all the way to your core. That makes it even tougher to get past the pain.
With that last bit said, that’s even more reason to forgive. Realize that many times the person you want to forgive is living their life, without any thought to your well-being. They are not drinking the poison of resentment and anger, and they must not care that they hurt you because they haven’t genuinely apologized. They are living life…as they should.
Why should they be able to live without the pain or poison? Why…because that is how God intended for us to live; in harmony and in peace. Do they deserve to feel the hurt that you are experiencing? Maybe they do in your mind, but not by God. We are all His children, and one of the best ways to support Him is to learn how to forgive; in spite of a person’s worthiness of it.
Forgiveness is not about forgetting, nor allowing someone to continually mistreat you; it’s about having faith that everything works out, as it should, in the end. Having to forgive someone is to know that how someone treated you has very little to do with you, if anything, but it does have everything to do with them. Forgiving makes sense spiritually, emotionally, and physically; you are healthier because of it. Your ability to excuse someone for something they did to you means you have peace within, you are closer to God, and that you now understand the big picture of life a little better than before.
Here are a few suggestions on what can work for you:
- Every single time you get a thought brewing in your head about what you’re so angry or resentful about say, “STOP” and focus your attention elsewhere. After a short time of doing this exercise, you will see that rejecting your negative thought process really starts to work.
- Write it down on paper; to get the thoughts out of your head. This helps to move you toward something new. Some days you may have to carry that paper around with you because so much is going on inside. It will lessen.
- Write a letter to the person you’re upset. You can either choose to give the letter to the person or not. The goal is to write it down and let it go. Keep in mind, just as with notes, you might need to write more than one letter.
- After some time has passed and you feel you are on the upswing toward getting these thoughts out of your head and your life is taking on new meaning, take all of your notes, or letters, grab a glass of wine, pop, coffee (whatever comforts you), and light a white candle. Build a small fire pit so you can take the painful words and reduce them to ash; hopefully, letting go of your past issues. Read your notes one more time. With each note or letter read, tear them into pieces. With each toss into the fire say, “I forgive you.” Then, let the issue go; put it in God’s hands. Send it off into the universe.
Life is full in complications, issues, and compromises. Someone somewhere will push your buttons, sabotage your efforts, or badger you in some way. What should you do? Go through the same process of writing or stopping your thoughts. You may fall back into your old ways at times, but now you know how to get yourself back on track faster and easier the next time around. Do yourself a favor…forgive.