The problem itself, in its unfolding, reveals extraordinary things

If you are merely looking for an answer to the various problems, then you will never find it; you will only find a solution that is suitable to you, that you like or dislike, that you reject or accept; but that is not the answer -it is only your response to a particular like or dislike. Continue reading

Pain is inevitable – suffering is optional

6 Ways to Decrease Your Suffering

“The world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming it.” ~Helen Keller

You’ve probably heard the saying “Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.”

For a many years, I didn’t understand how pain and suffering were different from each other. They seemed inextricably wrapped up together, and I took it for granted that one was the inevitable consequence of the other.

However, as I have grown to understand my own capacity to create happiness, I noticed something interesting about the nature of my suffering.

As I reflect back on painful episodes in my life, I can recall losing people who were dear to me. I remember abrupt changes in jobs, housing, and other opportunities that I believed were the basis of my happiness.

In each of those experiences the immediate visceral pain was searing, like a hot knife cutting through my heart. Then afterwards came grief, an emotional response to loss that arose quite naturally.

But closely on the heels of physical pain and emotional grief comes something else, something that I create in my own mind even though it feels quite real. That something else is “suffering.”

As a friend of mine once said, this is like putting butter on top of whipped cream. Suffering is the “extra” that our mind adds to an already painful situation.

It is at this very point, when your mind starts to fiddle with the pain and grief, that you have the possibility of doing things differently.

If you’re in the midst of great pain right now, it might help to know that the old saying really is true: While the pain can’t be avoided—it’s the price of being a human with a heart—there are ways we can reduce this kind of self-generated suffering.

Over the years, thanks to the guidance of wise friends as well as my own meditation practice, I’ve developed six tactics that have been helpful in reducing this type of suffering. I hope you’ll find them beneficial too. Continue reading

Book Recommendation: Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes, by William Bridges

Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes, Revised 25th Anniversary  Edition 
by William Bridges

Whether it is chosen or thrust upon you, change brings both opportunities and turmoil. Since first published 25 years ago, Transitions has helped hundreds of thousands of readers cope with these issues by providing an elegantly simple yet profoundly insightful roadmap of the transition process. Continue reading

Where can we go to dis-identify with all that got us thus far ?

We lack institutions which are based on a pedagogy and offer a curriculum of un-learning. The educational programs that are available emphasize learning, not unlearning. And the religious and therapeutic centers, where such things might happen, all have their dogma which the initiate is meant to learn. Continue reading

Letter to My Grandson

Change is difficult for all of us.  The older we get, the more change we face.  All change involves loss, and whenever we lose something, we ache to have it back.  Everything I have lost in my life — big things and little things — I’ve wanted back at first.

So because we know that all change is loss and all loss is change, your mom and dad worried about how you would react when it was time to give your beloved pacifier — your “binky”. Continue reading

Book Recommendation – Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through The Storm

Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through The Storm Renowned Zen master and Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, explores the origins of fear and offers detailed practises on how to deal with its often toxic presence in our lives. Formed by a lifetime of mindfulness in action, he also shows us the path to peace, happiness and freedom that can come out of such explorations. For him, happiness is not found by suppressing our emotions but by purposefully living in a mindfully aware state. Only by practicing mindfulness in this way can we identify the source of pain that is responsible for our fear and anxiety, and cut it off from its roots so that the pain can subside. When we’re not held in the grip of fear, we can truly embrace the gifts of life.