This past month I have witnessed a lot of suffering with friends and students. There has been deaths of a loved ones and beloved pets, illnesses, physical injuries and additionally , the catastrophic events across the world. Witnessing these tragic and painful events has taken a toll on me. Because I love and care about these people in my life, including the strangers across the globe, I suffer right a long with them. Life is constantly moving and changing and sometimes suffering is just not avoidable.
“In the Yoga Sutra, II.16 (heyam duhkham anagatam), Patanjali says that if you can accept that no one is immune from suffering and you understand the causes of suffering, then you can be prepared for the suffering that is yet to come and avoid unnecessary suffering.
You can’t change the fact of difficulty, loss, and heartbreak, and you can’t change that those things may cause you mental, physical, and emotional pain. But, with effort, you can change your reactions and your responses when life takes these turns. You can avoid destructive responses such as blame, guilt, and regret—the shoulda-coulda-woulda and the why me. (“Why not you?” Patanjali might answer; challenges, difficulties, and tragedies happen every day to undeserving people.) These responses don’t relieve your suffering; they only add to it.”- Kate Holcobme, Yoga Journal
So how do we relieve our suffering?
The first step to accept that no one is immune from suffering and suffering is everywhere. Life has a way of shifting unexpectedly and challenging us to look deep with ourselves to process these changes. So the second step is accept these changes and understand that they are not ours to control. Mourning the loss of a loved is the normal step to accepting the loss. It is okay to feel sad, cry and even angry about the situation. But harboring guilt, blame or regret only hinders the healing process. The same is true for world tragedies, illnesses and injuries of people. Sometimes awful things happen that are out of our control.
The last step is understand that each of us processes suffering differently and we all heal in our own unique way.
“Suffering is universal, but each experience is unique to that person. When you accept this, you can avoid the unnecessary suffering that comes from comparing or judging yourself or others with thoughts like, “I should just get over myself—look how bad she has it!” or “Why is he so upset? I have much more of a reason to be upset than he does!”- Kate Holcobme, Yoga Journal
Understanding that your feelings are your own and accepting them without judging yourself is an important key to your healing. Acknowledge what emotions are coming up and let them run their course. Accept yourself in the moment with love and compassion, knowing that pain will ease as long as you don’t ignore it. Yoga and meditation are a great way to relieve suffering. Spending time connecting to your mind and body creates space for healing. The physical aspects of yoga relieves the physical tension that can live in our bodies during this difficult time. The mental aspects of mediation allow your mind to rest and your heart to open, giving yourself the space to accept the situation. To know in your mind and to feel in your heart, that you will be okay.