I am not saying that our lives are not awful sometimes and for some people the level of hardships they experience on a regular basis is unthinkable. What I am saying is that for most of us, the majority of the time, our suffering is a self-imposed mental construct. When we go through challenges, we are also given the tools to move through them. Sometimes we refuse to acknowledge that we are receiving greater insight and strength. But we are never truly alone and everything we experience in our lives is there to bring us closer to a more expanded expression of our bad ass beautiful selves.
In Yogic and Buddhist philosophy there are five main causes for our suffering. The first Klesha, and the one that the other four come from is Avidya, ignorance. This is based on our misconception of what reality truly is. We attach our sense of self to the material world. We base our identity and happiness on our ego, our possessions, our occupation, others opinions of us and our physical bodies. All of these aspects of the illusory world are in constant flux. Because of their transitional nature for they can’t be controlled, and we can never base our peace and happiness on them. These teachers are meant to be a fluid part of our constant learning and evolving. What we can control is our awareness of our connection to our inner selves, that unchanging part that is a direct reflection of our hearts which guides us to a more balanced and honest perception of the illusory external world.
How do we keep our minds from getting caught up in the stories that create our false sense of suffering. Well, this one is a big challenge for my intensely obsessive mind. I’ve learned to play games with myself. I try not to take thoughts that I know are not based on the reality of my present moment or what I am trying to create based on the desires of my higher self, too seriously. Whenever they pop in I try to stop them before they gain too much momentum. But when I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of my obsessive thoughts, well, fiery Joan can do some wacky things just to cast off the discomfort that mind has created. So, I make sure I do my daily meditation to clear my head and connect to that quiet, real space within myself that is in-sink with my heart. And then I have an arsenal of pleasant thoughts and creative endeavors that I try to focus my thoughts on.
When those insecurities, irrational fears, attachments and past scars rear their ugly heads, I try to sit with the feelings, acknowledge the triggers, the last thing we want to do is numb out or run away, that just makes those inner gremlins become full blown seething mind demons. I sit, and ask myself, is this something I need to work through, or is this something that I really shouldn’t give any more attention to because the more I focus on it, the more I make it a part of my present reality and my immediate suffering. Some days I have to play this game constantly in order to shift out of the mental drama I’ve created and other times I can simply observe my ever changing external world in gratitude for the strength and ever-expanding appreciation it is helping to create in my heart. Life is hard, but we don’t have to suffer.
Get out of the stories your head gremlins create and get into the paradise that is your limitless compassionate heart.