In seeking to understand my own struggles, and those of my clients, I often recognise suffering in others. I feel a great deal of compassion for that pain and, in the past, I have sought to alleviate the discomfort in ways that may have fostered an avoidance of suffering. If it hurts too much just move away from it! Avoid, minimise, resist, distract, justify (insert your own avoidance strategy of choice). What I have come to believe is that suffering is a great opportunity to develop your very own superpower!
There is tender beauty in suffering if we use it as an opportunity to practice compassion – compassion for others and compassion for ourselves. I had the great good fortune to study with Buddhist monks and nuns where suffering is seen as the fertile ground to practice developing helpful states of mind. Healing states such as love and compassion. With this practice we can transform suffering. It is the great connector of all human beings. We ALL struggle and compassion helps us to respond to ourselves and others in ways that help rather than harm. Over a decade after my studies I seek to deepen my practice of this great truth. I still wish we could circumvent some of the suffering, but I understand we develop some of our finest qualities in the face of it. In moving through the suffering with compassion and tenderness.
There are rich lessons to be learnt if one is aware enough to see past the surface of their misfortune. There are opportunities to develop beautiful states of mind that protect us from suffering and help to give it meaning. We can develop a depth and complexity to our character that is soothing to ourselves and draws others to us for comfort and connection.
To develop your compassion try see difficulty as an opportunity to embrace what it is to be human. There are 4 steps:
- Acknowledge the suffering without trying to diminish it, inflate it or silver line it.
- Recognise, everyone feels this way at some point. We are all in this crazy life together
- Send a tender-hearted wish that everyone’s suffering be alleviated – including your own. Practice sending whatever the suffering needs – a hug, love, comfort.
- Let your mind rest in any loving, compassionate feelings you generate.
May your develop the precious superpower of compassion, for yourself and others!