So yeah why can't life just be easy?
Wouldn't it be great...no global warming, inspiring world leaders, safe and equitable nation states, peace and harmony in all our relationships, balance in all things?
How come life isn't like that and why can it never be?
Life has been tough for me lately...and don't get me wrong, I'm talking middle class, privileged tough, not living in a refugee camp grieving the deaths of my immediate family tough. But still, life has been pushing my buttons, has been challenging me, has been bringing up old wounds, and presenting me with uncomfortable emotions.
We are in the middle of a tricky transition in our business, which has been frustrating and protracted and at the same time there have been long delays on the launch date for my new book.
I know...it's hardly the end of the world, but for some reason these events have brought my shadow back to visit me.
I have been battling confusion, self doubt, anger, sadness and grief. The good news is that these emotions are not new to me. Through being born sensitive, and recently through the death of my beloved Mum I have come to know them all quite intimately.
For the first year after Mum's death these emotions and the heavy feeling in my body that they brought with them were never far away. But after a while, the good times started to outweigh the bad again and I was able to build from a happy place instead of having to constantly excavate my way through the pain.
But that's just it, pain never really goes away because it's a large part of our experience of being a human being. We can be having a great time, and living it up large, sometimes for long periods, but pain is always there somewhere in the background and there will be times that it plants itself fully into the foreground of our lives.
So what do we do when our old pains (or new ones) come to visit us?
I used to run (or at least walk) miles, literally, or do laps and laps of the swimming pool, because lets be honest, no one wants to entertain pain unless they absolutely have to.
But that's the thing, sometimes we absolutely have to.
And so as I've got older and greyer I've decided to be less dismissive of my pain, I've learned how to be more curious about it, to sit with it and give it time to explain itself.
That sounds all very "woo woo" but its not at all. I just sit with myself and ask my pain what it wants to say to me, what message it needs to impart. And usually in the silence something will emerge.
It might be a memory, or a fear or a loss, and inside the pain will usually be tears and a deeper understanding of myself, my wounds and my world.
One of my favourite teachers the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn talks about the wounded child within each of us who is in need of our compassion and our love.
"When we speak of listening with compassion, we usually think of listening to someone else. But we must also listen to the wounded child inside us. Sometimes the wounded child in us needs all our attention. That little child might emerge from the depths of your consciousness and ask for your attention. If you are mindful, you will hear his or her voice calling for help.
At that moment, instead of paying attention to whatever is in front of you, go back and tenderly embrace the wounded child. You can talk directly to the child with the language of love, saying, “In the past, I left you alone. I went away from you. Now, I am very sorry. I am going to embrace you.” You can say, “Darling, I am here for you. I will take good care of you. I know you suffer so much. I have been so busy. I have neglected you, and now I have learned a way to come back to you.”
If necessary, you have to cry together with that child. Whenever you need to, you can sit and breathe with the child. “Breathing in, I go back to my wounded child; breathing out, I take good care of my wounded child."
I believe this wounded child is the source of much of our own pain as well as the pain in our world. When we stop running from that little child inside us we realise that pain is her way of getting our attention, and she needs that attention because she needs love, and when we can love ourselves in this broken, wounded place, we become more compassionate people.
All the great beings have taught us the same thing. My beautiful friend Jesus sits with me each time I sift through my brokenness and pain.
And it might be that this act of loving ourselves in the depth of our pain could, in some way we cannot understand, relieve the suffering of those around us.,and of the world.
Thich Nhat Hanh again:
"After recognizing and embracing our inner child, the third function of mindfulness is to soothe and relieve our difficult emotions. Just by holding this child gently, we are soothing our difficult emotions and we can begin to feel at ease. When we embrace our strong emotions with mindfulness and concentration, we’ll be able to see the roots of these mental formations. We’ll know where our suffering has come from. When we see the roots of things, our suffering will lessen. So mindfulness recognizes, embraces, and relieves."
The society we live in is allergic to our vulnerability, it tells us to medicate our pain, to run from it, to distract ourselves from the distressing cry of our child within. It is an act of courageous love to turn within and to sit with our pain, and to listen to it, and to give that child what she so deeply needs and deserves.
Maybe this is something good I can do in my privileged life to help ease both my own suffering, and the world's.
Next time pain comes calling, can you join me?
Thanks for reading my friends.