Hello, My Suffering

Hi Crazy Beautiful Reader,

Buddhist teachings say we need to change our minds to change our world.

Years ago, I learned a Buddhist lesson that has stuck with me. Imagine you are looking in a mirror, the teacher explained. Instead of getting lost in the reflected image of yourself, you can notice the mirror—maybe a dot of toothpaste—and shift from being the reflected to the reflector. Step back and understand that your truest self is the person who is able to examine thoughts from a comfortable distance. Jealousy, pain, hurt: these are all experiences we can accept and acknowledge rather than succumb to completely.

Thich Nhat Hanh writes in No Mud, No Lotus:

With mindful breathing, you can recognize the presence of a painful feeling, just like an older sibling greets a younger sibling. You can say, “Hello, my suffering. I know you are there.” In this way, the energy of mindfulness keeps us from being overwhelmed by painful feelings. We can even smile to our suffering and say, “Good morning, my pain, my sorrow, my fear. I see you. I am here. Don’t worry.”

Let’s abandon the notion that living a good life means an end to suffering. Let’s accept our suffering, notice it, and acknowledge that is part of the human condition. Let’s remember this holiday season that it’s a difficult time of year and perfectly fine to feel less than joyful.

Not only is it perfectly fine—it’s perfectly human.

xo,

Michele

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