I recently went on a weekend retreat. I treasure these opportunities because they give me the chance to break free from my routine, step back from life and make space for something new. (Yup that’s me in the pic after walking the labyrinth!)
I find it easier to slow my pace – walking, eating, talking, and even my thoughts when I consciously make the choice to do so. I practice mindfulness but it seems when I’m in “get it done mode” I’m more focused on hitting all the things on my to-do list.
While at the retreat I was able to really listen, really see, and really focus. I kept away from my phone and became present to my surroundings. But I had to keep reminding myself, “Pam – Slow down, embrace each moment.”
One such moment came while listening to one of the retreat presenters. I knew something juicy was coming when he put up a math equation. Now math was never my favorite subject in school. But this equation was something I could calculate.
Suffering = Pain x Resistance
I’ve known suffering. I’ve experienced pain. Check and Check. Ok what next?
Resistance? Now I was curious.
How did resistance factor into the equation? And the formula was not Pain PLUS Resistance = Suffering. It was Pain MULTIPLIED BY Resistance = Suffering
None of us are exempt from pain. But how often do we take painful moments and make them that much bigger by resisting them? Resistance, he said, comes in the form of denial, drama, obsessing, and even blaming.
Have you heard the saying, “Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional”?
We get so wrapped up in our story that we hide and distract ourselves from the actual thing that caused the pain. We’d rather tell our friends and family about it, complain about it, and create a dramatic story about it. The painful moment or experience starts to take on a life of its own. You can’t escape from it and that is suffering.
What if you tried something different?
What if you RESISTED the urge to flee from the pain and actually felt it? Got right down into what was at the root of the pain?
Try this instead:
- Take time to sit with the pain…alone, feel it and release it.
- Releasing it can come from crying, journaling, and/or moving your body.
- If you need to share it with someone, choose someone you trust who will listen and not tell you what to do.
- Reflect on what’s really going on behind the pain and ask “what do I need to move through this?” Then do that.
- Ask yourself, “What is this meant to teach me?”
“Tell your heart that the fear of pain is worse than the pain itself.” Paulo Coelho
By following these steps, you eliminate the suffering. You are choosing to face the pain by not allowing the fear of the pain to stand in your way.
Give it a try and see how differently you feel. Let me know how you do!