With my father's recent health scare and the constant worry and doctors visits and test results, MRI scans, lack of parking at hospitals and queues at the clinics - should I go on? Anyone who has a sick loved one will know what I am talking about.
Recently while trying to deal with real issues of disease and death and pain I turned to a great Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, his words helped me settle my thoughts and if, like me, you are going through a dark patch, I hope Thich's words help you settle your thoughts;
"The main affliction of our modern civilization is that we don't know how to handle the suffering inside us and we try to cover it up with all kinds of consumption. Retailers peddle a plethora of devices to help us cover up the suffering inside. But unless and until we're able to face our suffering, we can't be present and available to life, and happiness will continue to elude us.
Mindfulness is the best way to be with our suffering without being overwhelmed by it. Mindfulness is the capacity to dwell in the present moment, to know what's happening in the here and now. For example, when we're lifting our two arms, we're conscious of the fact that we're lifting our arms. Our mind is with our lifting of our arms, and we don't think about the past or the future, because lifting our arms is what's happening in the present moment.
To be mindful means to be aware. It's the energy that knows what is happening in the present moment. Lifting our arms and knowing that we're lifting our armsÑthat's mindfulness, mindfulness of our action. When we breathe in and we know we're breathing in, that's mindfulness. When we make a step and we know that the steps are taking place, we are mindful of the steps. Mindfulness is always mindfulness of something. It's the energy that helps us be aware of what is happening right now and right hereÑin our body, in our feelings, in our perceptions, and around us.
With mindfulness, you can recognize the presence of the suffering in you and in the world. And it's with that same energy that you tenderly embrace the suffering. By being aware of your in-breath and out-breath you generate the energy of mindfulness, so you can continue to cradle the suffering. Practitioners of mindfulness can help and support each other in recognizing, embracing, and transforming suffering. With mindfulness we are no longer afraid of pain. We can even go further and make good use of suffering to generate the energy of understanding and compassion that heals us and we can help others to heal and be happy as well."
While it is inevitable that we will, at some point get ill, it should really be our primary objective to keep ourselves healthy in the first place. Recently I came upon this quote and it really resonated with me.
In many shamanic societies, if you came to a shaman or medicine person, complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions.
When did you stop dancing?
When did you stop singing?
When did you stop being enchanted by stories?
When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence?
Where we have stopped dancing, singing, being enchanted by stories, or finding comfort in silence is where we have experienced the loss of soul.
Dancing, singing, storytelling, and silence are the four universal healing salves ~by The Four-Fold Way: Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Healer, Teacher and Visionary.
Silence, and turning inwards, is perhaps the hardest part, no doubt. But it is in knowing what lies within, the good, the bad and the ugly, that allows us to more deeply understand ourselves, and others. Have a fabulous week!