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The Gift of Suffering

The lotus blooms beautifully in the thickest and deepest mud.

Welcoming our pain empowers us to grow into our highest self.

Through mud it rises

Through water it emerges

Through sunlight it blossoms.

There is a lot to learn from a lotus flower. This beautiful and sacred flower holds much wisdom about life. One powerful concept is about embracing what life has to offer in order to become what you desire to be in life – suffering and all.

Many people are afraid of suffering. We take pills and distract ourselves with material objects in hopes of changing how we feel. Some people do everything possible to shut out the negative by closing off emotions as a way to escape the unpleasantness that life sometime offers.

Well, the reality is – life is awful yet so amazing. It’s a yo-yo, the waves of intensity, the doom of “comes in 3’s”, the lows of “I am so tired of living life this way”, yet, the positive energy of life and connection to others can give you some of the greatest of highs.

Do you seek joy? Well then you must embrace your sufferings to achieve your joy. As a beautiful lotus must have the mud to grow. We must recognize and embrace our suffering. We can be overwhelmed by how we feel and stuff it down or ignore it or even worse be chastised for feeling anything at all. Our sufferings can take away our peace, our joy, our stability, our desire to eat, move about, or do simple tasks.

The key thing is that our reaction to our suffering is our way to communicate to ourselves. Just like a baby cries – we go to it, hold the baby, provide comfort and console it – that is exactly what we should do for ourselves. When we are sad, angry, frustrated - our emotions are the cries and we must embrace it in order to calm ourselves. These emotions are not our enemy. They are our suffering. In those moments we need to take good care of ourselves and be kind and tender to ourselves. We acknowledge that we are having the emotions, peacefully holding them, and give them permission to pass. They do not have to stay with us. They are impermanent. Feelings are born, take shape, last for a period, and then disappear, if we let them.

Rather than feel negative emotions, some numb themselves as to avoid the unpleasantness or because it has become too overwhelming to handle. In doing so – the feel-good positive emotions are not possible to feel. In order to allow ourselves to move from our lowest of unpleasant emotions and vibrate up to the highest of highs, we must acknowledge, accept, and move through our emotions. We are majestic beasts with limitless souls and emotions.

Our perception of pain and suffering is based on how we experience them. We sometimes see pain as something that will never end when in reality it is our choice of how we allow such to impact our life. It takes courage to acknowledge what we are feeling and finding a way to move through it. It’s about simply listening to yourself, creating space for you to feel, withholding judgment, emotionally connecting, and communicating to yourself the healing message that ‘You’re not alone and emotions are normal.’

Daring to have this courage puts us into a very vulnerable spot. It means we must show up in our lives, say we are important, and to ask for what we need. Sometimes we don’t tell other people what we’re feeling and sometimes we don’t even tell ourselves. Emotions build up within us and if we do not take the time to work them out – they can create a block to our hearts, connection to ourselves, and connection with others. When blocked, the feeling will not disappear as they are meant to. We must talk about how we are feeling and have the hard conversations. What are we really feeling? Then take the time to feel and release the emotion.

May we learn to live like the lotus in ease with muddy water. May we embrace our shortcomings, our flaws, our guilts, our “shoulda woulda couldas”, our “I’m not good enough” to see the magic that happens when we accept what is and allow the breathtakingly beautifulness to emerge.

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