I first want to thank everyone for your incredible support and kind words with the whole “family issue” from my last post. Clearly, I’m not alone with all the pain and confusion that some of us have to deal regarding our family members. I was emotionally suffering as you read, but I turned the corner. I went to see my psychiatrist yesterday and he said something that really stuck with me.
I was telling him about how I’ve learned from studying Buddhism that if we resist pain in any form it’ll just persist. And to move through the suffering, we need to acknowledge it without all the diversions that we like to do. For me, it’s unnecessary busy work, eating when I’m not hungry, surfing the web, reading…anything that I think I can lose myself in without being gently compassionate with myself and acknowledging my pain. If I don’t open my heart up to myself, that is when suffering occurs. The more I try to deny my pain, that is when suffering occurs and the healing stops.
I know, I know too much time on my hands. But back to what my Dr. said, he said that the Buddhist Shaolin Monks who have their own form of Kung Fu and are considered to be some of the most graceful and strongest martial art’s warriors ever and that no matter how skilled and practiced they may be, there will always be blows from an opponent. (You might have seen the fantastic movie, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” which highlights Shaolin Monks and their form of Kung Fu. Granted the movie is still done “Hollywood Style” but the grace and spirit of the Shaolin Monks can be seen.)
I hate seeing my father as an opponent but sometimes our family and friends turn into adversaries and sometimes we’re our “own worst enemy.” To deflect with grace rather than hard opposition is part of the martial dance and philosophy of the Shaolin Monks. I won’t go into the history in this post or their philosophy of the Shaolin Monks, as I’d be doing them and their way of line an injustice.)
I think part of why I’ve been suffering so much is that I’ve believed I was prepared for the sadness and loss I feel whenever I’m around my family. But the thing is, I’m human (last time I checked I was at least) and that the best we can all do is to acknowledge our hurts and let it go….softly and with dexterity.
This doesn’t mean that I remain passive and keep opening my heart with vulnerability, but it’s how I respond rather than react that matters. Reacting is immediate and doesn’t always bring us the response and outcome that we want. I’m quick to react. Responding is the dance of grace, it’s reflecting and then deciding upon action (whether that’s externally or internally.)
It’s not safe for me emotionally to just confront my father because that would do both of us more harm than good. But I can learn how to protect myself more and with a kiss of compassion for myself let the pain flow through me. I can’t claim to be a full Buddhist practitioner but I’ve long been walking the path in learning how to bring about more peace and balance into my life and one of the most important tenets of Buddhism is “Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional” which reminds me that no matter how prepared I am to face pain, it’s going to happen, it’s how I choose to respond and resist or embrace my pain that makes a difference.
So, how do you let go of your own type of suffering and acknowledge your own pain?
© 2012, Wendy S.. All rights reserved.