“Pain is inevitable, suffering is a choice” is a phrase that I’ve come across frequently in the last few years. Here is what I've put together so far...Pain may be physical, mental, emotional or spiritual. Suffering is being in the rut of reliving the pain over and over again; increasing the levels of pain to where one loses sense of Self, faith and hope. Suffering because we are then separated from our True Selves - our soul and our collective spirit.
Suffering is living from your head - is anxiety, resisting change, living in the illusion that with just a little more thinking the answers will appear, that we are in control (ha!)... “us or them” thinking...living from Ego only - Fear, defensiveness, protective language, confusion, panic, depression and distractions.
Suffering is ignoring one’s emotional well being (heart) and then living in abandonment, resentment, shame, withdrawing, criticizing, defending and stone walling (Gottman). If the emotional body is ignored, it will scream at you to pay attention at the most inappropriate moments and you and your loved ones will suffer. Suffering is living without setting emotional boundaries and letting your well run dry. Betraying oneself by not taking care of and valuing the sacred “I Am”.
Suffering is not allowing oneself to connect to creative spirit (gut) and play with passion, laughter, joy, silliness with child-like freedom and self-acceptance.
The key to accessing your heart and gut when you're stuck in your head is simple - gratitude.
I have struggled and failed more times than I can recall and I have suffered. Yet, I am finding that once again, I dust myself off, tend to my wounds with gentleness and kindness, recover and allow grace to repair. Allowing it to give me strength, wisdom, courage and to live in the struggle of gut-wrenching, nauseous, shaking vulnerability in order to find faith and re-commit to living a whole-hearted life.
This recovery doesn’t happen in a vacuum. I find the strength in nature, mindfulness practice and also belonging to a community of friends and family committed to a similar path of living from the heart, where I can lean in and provide support in turn, and live a life of gratitude & generosity, forgiveness & faith, kindness and compassion.
It is my dearest wish to live a life without suffering - to choose not to suffer - to live a whole-hearted, integrated life....where my Ego is healthy, with boundaries and serves my highest good. When I live from my heart, my words and actions align themselves and I communicate and behave in a different way. My voice takes on a warmer deeper tone, I am clear, I am soft, I am strong. My eyes sparkle. I feel centred, silly, joyful, peaceful and find harmony with others. I play music in a different way - my whole body resonates, I practice more and flow and deep connection are available.
Through the practice of awareness, grace and love, I build up reserves which in turn provides the wisdom and insight, courage and overwhelming vulnerability to choose not to suffer. it allows me to recover the strength from within to live from my heart, with Authenticity, Integrity and Responsibility (AIR). Living from the heart and gut is transformative and infectious. It is simple, but not easy.
These summer musings have been influenced by many people and books: "Falling Into Grace" Adyashanti, “Warrior Goddess Training” Heatherash Amara “The Buddha’s Brain” Rick Hansen, “Necessary Losses” Judith Viorst and books by Brene Brown and Caroline Myss. They have also been influenced by inspiring conversations with Heather Campbell, Leah Halvorsen, Adam Johnson, Laurie Matiation, Wayne McNab, Robert Penner, Lynda Reynolds, Christine Yole and the people involved in the Foothills Mennonite Church.