Sit With It

I post lots of lovely, inspiring, life-is-beautiful updates, blogs, and notes. I like these one, indeed. I am reminded of how easy life can be when we sit back and let it happen. Letting go, life, and where we are headed seems so easy. It makes me feel good to do this. It makes others feel good when I do this. I feel accomplished. 

However, every once in awhile I post unhappy, truth-of-the-moment, honest, raw, and real things that are not any of those above things. 

But every time I do so, I hesitate, not because I don’t want to post them and be truthful but because I don’t want the advice that comes with those posts. I don’t want to read how I can “cheer up”, “not to worry”, “it will all work out”, and even “I’m sorry.”  I already know it will all work out. I have a lifetime of experience that has proven this to me. I also know that I will cheer up, whether someone has told me to or not. I always do, eventually - the beauty of knowing that everything changes. And I will worry so don’t tell me not to. I will worry until I am done worrying. Sorry? What’s there to be sorry about? Some of the best things in life I have learned through being exposed to suffering. So don’t be sorry that I am living life and not pretend I don’t suffer. 

Why this happens, I think, is because people are so uncomfortable with suffering that they can’t sit with it, whether it springs up in themselves or in others. We instinctually try to move away from it when we happen upon it. And when we see it blatantly in others, we are compelled to tell them to move away from it too because we, ourselves, are so uncomfortable in its presence.

Suffering is such a dirty word, concept, and feeling that people don’t even like it when we use it. We think of suffering as being horrible and unspeakable. But the reality is that many of us are suffering everyday... little bits of suffering like when we get angry at someone else for the harm we think they are caused us, the sadness we feel when something we were attached to is lost, or the cravings we experience for things that we can’t have right now.  But suffering isn’t out there. It’s in here, in us. 

And when others mention it, it’s actually invoking our own suffering, even if the other person who spoke of it, isn’t even feeling it as suffering. 

The same is true of being happy. When someone is happy and expressing deep joy or enthusiasm and we feel it too, it is because it is inside of us. Happiness isn’t out there. It’s in here, in us. Joy isn’t out there. It’s in here, in us. 

These concepts are thrown around quite loosely these days in pop-yoga and pop-Buddhism jargon, but many of us (myself included) fail to recognize the nuances of when this is happening. Meditation and yoga are not practices of being blissed out. They are practices of learning to sit with our shit. And when we practice it off the mat and off the cushion, it is learning to sit with other people’s shit too, which includes mine! So next time we feel inclined to offer advice and words of positivity in hopes of easing someone else’s suffering, may be we can take a moment to sit, breathe, and observe what it feels like to not do that. Because it is in those moments that we start to observe that true nature of suffering... and not just the one inside others, but inside all of us.  That observation is what ultimately allows us to transcend the suffering that many of us try to ignore.