Before we jump into today’s episode fully, I’m going to ask you to review this podcast. I hear from so many people how much they enjoy the podcast and how supportive it is, and I’d love for you to leave a review so that other people can find the podcast. My intention with this podcast is to help people, so I’d really appreciate your help in getting this podcast out to those who need the support. Thank you.
This strangely leads into what I want to chat about today. I want to talk about suffering. This may seem like a strange topic, but it’s really what most of us spend our lives doing. We swim around in the sea of suffering. It’s all around us and we don’t even know that we are in it because we think that that’s all there is. Just misery.
I’m speaking from my own experience for sure. I spent a majority of my life hanging out in the sea of suffering. I was a gold level member. I was so miserable in high school really up until my 30s because I thought there was something wrong. Mostly I thought that there was something wrong with me. I thought that everyone else was happy, and that I just had to find the “right” clothes, body, friends, guy, apartment, house, whatever, and then I would be happy.
You might have noticed something similar. You might think you need to lose 10lbs, get a new job, or change your life to be happy. It’s quite common. We think that the circumstance is what needs to change. Now granted, I will say that if the circumstance is not being safe, then yes. First we need safety, shelter, and food. All of that is a yes. I’m talking about the low level dissatisfaction that most people who have safety, shelter, and food feel. You might feel miserable, even though everything looks fine on the outside. You may even be considered “successful.”
What if there was a way to stop that suffering?
I remember driving with my friend when I was in my early 30s and saying to her, “I just don’t want to suffer any more,” and I meant that in the most positive way. Years before in high school, I didn’t want to suffer anymore, but it was a sort of giving up. I thought the only way out was through dying. I just didn’t know it was possible to feel better in that moment; I didn’t know it was possible to not be so sad, irritated, and annoyed at everyone and at life. I knew how to look good on the outside; some would argue that I was successful, and yet on the inside, I was miserable.
Here’s the thing: there was nothing wrong with me (and still wasn’t). I needed support. I didn’t know what I was eating could influence my mood. I didn’t know a lack of exercise and alcohol use contributed to depression. Now it’s true that there is pain in living in a human body. Yes, there are things that are painful and times full of grief. All of that is true. In Buddhism, the saying is that pain is inevitable, AND suffering is optional. Does it mean that things don’t stink? No. Does it mean that we can respond to those things in many different ways? YES.
It just means there is pain and then on top of that, we humans tend to put a whole lot of suffering ON TOP of that pain. It’s possible to just experience the pain, without the suffering. And that is what made a world of difference in my life. It was freedom.
So, you may be asking, “Well that’s great Rebecca. How do I find some freedom and stop suffering?” Well my dear, I’m so glad you asked. There are many tools to stop suffering, and believe me I’ve tried most of them and I’ve found that for me, it’s a combination of different tools.
For me, changing what I was eating made it so much easier and much less miserable to live in my body. Anti-inflammatory foods and getting rid of refined sugar changed all of my wellness bodies. All of them: physical, mental, emotional, energetic, and spiritual. It was like becoming a totally different person. The other week I had to eat white rice and no veggies and then fast for a colonoscopy and I felt just like my teenage self again; it was wild. I know what was happening though. My blood sugar was dropping and the familiar pattern of anger and depression was setting in.
Mindfulness and an awareness practice was a core part of removing the suffering. It allowed me to see that there was this really critical voice in my head making up stories about the past and the future. Believing those stories were a sure fire way of going for a swim in the sea of suffering. Becoming aware and noticing that you don’t have to believe the critical voice is so incredibly helpful. It’s all about turning your attention to the present, not what that voice in the head is saying.
When you know what that voice is saying, you can also practice what you know to be true. It’s like taking mindfulness a step further and supporting yourself with love, kindness, and compassion. Practicing a compassionate thought helps to redirect the attention to the feeling you want to have. Instead of ruminating over what you ate, or said or that next conversation.
Another way to shift your attention from suffering is to get out in nature; getting in the sun, putting your feet on the ground, or talking to a tree is another way to stop suffering. Again, it’s a tool to move your attention to something different than the thoughts that are causing the suffering.
Removing energy or removing cords is another way to remove suffering. So often there is an energy or an entity that doesn’t belong to us and that can also lead to negative thoughts and emotions, and removing that energy creates space to actually feel the pain.
Do these ideas seem simple? They are! Are they easy? Not always, and that’s why so many people benefit from support. I know when I began this work, I wanted to be with others, I wanted a guide to show me the next step. This is the work I do. I help people end suffering and move from exhaustion to wellness.
Ok dear ones. I want you to know that you can feel better; that you can stop suffering. Thank you so much for listening and take good care of yourself.