Suffering is a signal

Suffering is a signal: learn to work with your thoughts.

What’s life without a few dragons anyway?” J.R. Rollins

Much of your emotional suffering on earth is due to believing things should be different from how things are because you want them to be. You can’t change external circumstances, but can change your mind and reframe the experience.

The distinction is that clean pain is experiencing your emotions; dirty pain is going around them and not feeling emotions.  This causes dirty pain to last longer and causes more suffering than clean pain. It prolongs the discomfort. Grieve a loss when you feel it. Let it pass through you.

The only thing you can change is how you react to external events.

You get to choose how you go through any situation. I faced the reality of my circumstances in the hospital.  I didn’t resist the fact that I was there for a long time. I didn’t talk about what should have happened. I made the best of it because I knew I could choose my attitude because of the near-death experience. I never judged my caregivers. I got to know them.

Most people don’t want to accept reality.

I embraced it. My trauma surgeon at Sharp Memorial Hospital, Dr. Kill (his real name), told us,

“Most people want to get out of here [hospital] as soon as possible, but you accepted it. You even reeled your husband back when he spun out with worst-case scenarios.”

Many people wish they weren’t in a predicament when a life event happens.

Your first reaction is often, “This shouldn’t be happening.”

You resist what’s happening because it shouldn’t be happening in your mind.

Can you think of a time when you experienced resisting the reality of what was happening?

If so, remember you’re becoming a new version of yourself as you age – you’re evolving because you know better now.  Treat yourself with loving compassion like your pet or someone you love.

When my younger brother was killed 18 years ago (it’s a cold case), the horror of the situation had my family going over and over the details, wishing we didn’t have to believe the reality upon us. It felt like a nightmare. It took me five years of suffering before I woke up with Byron Katie’s The Work (inquiry) in a small seminar in Ojai in 2009.

I realized I was in prison in my mind because I’d kept working with the detective, trying to keep my brother’s case alive. That was dirty pain.

“There’s pain and suffering,” said Gary Zukav. “Pain is just pain.”

“She left me. Someone died. My child has cancer. That’s pain. Emotional pain is part of our lives,” said Zukov.

Six years ago, after the car wreck in Baja, Mexico, when I came to consciousness and realized I was in an ambulance. I felt helpless and scared as I said silently,

God, I’m in your hands.”

I fully surrendered to the divine because I was helpless in a Spanish-speaking country and badly injured. I’d never done anything like this before, but what I experienced was miraculous.

I surrendered each time I was taken to surgery, which was six more times.

After the third abdominal surgery, I had a near-death experience (NDE).

I woke up and knew something profound had happened because I could remember it vividly. The voice of my guide telepathically asked me this question:

“You get to choose how you go through this experience. What will you choose?”

This near-death experience (NDE) made it worth experiencing the accident because I felt touched by an angel – as if my energy was much higher. This is why I healed so quickly from six major abdominal surgeries in four months.

I knew not to let my mind control my experience in the hospital. If I let fear take over, I would suffer needlessly. In other words, I would cause myself to suffer by fighting with myself over the whiteboard in front of my bed. One day, I realized I didn’t like it in front of my bed, but I wanted to manage my mind and not start a war with the board. So, I made friends with the board.

Because of the near-death experience, I was in pure acceptance of everything. The negative, repetitive, fearful voice of my ego was offline. I was in the place of my higher Self. I knew I was in a higher state of consciousness while in the hospital; I wondered if people would notice.

“I know you have to go, but I don’t want you to go,” said Princess, a CNA who helped me during my five-plus weeks in the trauma center in San Diego.  People did notice, and even Dr. Kill was intrigued because I was in acceptance of everything.

Suffering is a signal.

Suppose I had gone to war (in my head) with the whiteboard. I would have created needless emotional suffering.  I was already suffering from the pain of learning to stand and walk. That was the suffering I bore for my spiritual growth.

I wanted a more spiritual life. The purpose of the accident was to stop me from going down the wrong path, chasing money and success.

Pain is the interpretation or meaning you give to that pain signal.

It’s the internal self-talk and beliefs that drive our emotional reactions.

Suffering results from mental and emotional responses to pain.

There is a crucial distinction between pain and suffering.

“Pain for a worthy purpose is suffering, Zukav said, “So if you know your pain serves a purpose — and that purpose is your spiritual growth — that’s suffering. What could be more worthy than the health of your soul?”

We’re here on earth to learn from our most challenging lessons.

You become stronger, like the caterpillar struggling mightily to get out of the cocoon, which gives it the strength to live longer because of the struggle.

Pain is unavoidable; suffering is not. It occurs in response to thoughts such as: “Why me?!” “It isn’t fair!” “This is horrible!” “I can’t stand it!”

When you practice acceptance, you let yourself move forward, giving you the freedom to take steps to improve your life.

I didn’t trust myself to take care of myself all my life. But now, after the near-death experience, I know the Universe is kind and always has my best interest at heart.

Pema Chodron’s breathing method is beautiful to help with grief:

Pema says, “Breathe it into your heart and let it expand. Instead of rejecting the discomfort, embrace it.

Do six inhales, allowing and embracing it  – be open to it and send out a lot of space. Compassionate abiding.

  1. Acknowledge what you’re feeling physically, and your mind might be racing
  2. Recognize you’re suffering.
  3. Welcome and embrace it
  4. Locate it in your body – when you’re afraid, your body is contracted. So, make friends with the tightness or anxiety in the body. We resist uncomfortable feelings.
  5. Sit with the feelings and feel them for at least 90 seconds, breathing in and out. Let it go.

Acceptance – be with what is happening now in your body.

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photo courtesy of Robert Lukeman Unsplash

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