Blatant Suffering

I went to a Yin Yoga workshop recently with a Buddhist teacher named Sarah Powers. She explained that in Buddhist philosophy, it is a given that suffering happens in life. No one gets out unscathed.

So, there is suffering. But then there is something she described as “making the suffering worse,” or blatant suffering.

Suffering is an unavoidable aspect of being alive, but then we pour gasoline on the fire of our suffering, and really run with it.

Easy example: Someone cuts me off in traffic, I suffer. Maybe it was a close call. Maybe it scared me. But then what do I do to hold onto that suffering? What do I make someone cutting me off in traffic mean? What is at the core?

-He didn’t wait his turn.

-That’s not fair.

-I’ve been disrespected.

-I don’t matter (how far back does that go)?

-Fury.

How long do I suffer over this incident? Am I still suffering ten miles down the road? Do I need to be?

~

My child has a problem at school. I suffer. I don’t like to see my child in pain. Putting wind in the sails of my suffering, I look too far ahead. Off I go, predicting all kinds of future suffering for my child (and thus for me). Berating myself as a parent. Did I not do enough of this, or too much of that? Berating the other players involved. Lamenting why the world is the way it is.

Do I need to go there? Can I just be in this difficult moment with my sorrow? Do I need to heap onto it and make it worse?

Can I make room for my own suffering, rather than run from it?

Can I meet my own suffering with humility, rather than chesting up to it screaming, “NO!”

Can I just say, “Oh…there you are,” and offer it compassion, acknowledging every other person on the planet suffers too, at some point. Even if they put on a show, pretending they are immune.

The first step is to recognize suffering for what it is. In a moment of angst, can I be present enough to pause and name it:

I am suffering. 

This would be a good time to take some breaths.

And then might I ask, How am I making it worse?

More breaths.

~

Pain in my shoulder roused me from sleep this morning. It’s chronic, off and on, but mostly on. In those moments between sleep and awake I noted it as suffering. 

Lying there in bed, in the dark, eyes closed, I didn’t resist. Silently, I whispered to my shoulder pain, “There is room for you.”

Breathing,

breathing,

lifting into consciousness.

By the time I was fully awake,

it was gone.

Yoga Stories – Tibetan Bowls

I love teaching yoga. There is a new story every day.

One of my playlists features Tibetan singing bowls. People generally respond well to them. One of the ladies in one of my classes LOVES them. Any time I play them for shavasana, she is so happy. She tends to set her mat down in the back of the room. Sometimes just for final resting pose, I move my portable speaker back there, closer to her, knowing how much she enjoys the sound.

But, it turns out there is a guy in class, that hates sound of Tibetan singing bowls. After I’d played them lots of times, he took me aside one day and told me they hurt his ears, making shavasana feel like fingernails running down a chalkboard for him. I was glad he told me, and glad I’d at least been moving my speaker to the back of the room, since he usually parks his mat more toward the front, and on the opposite side.

What to do? What to do? I don’t want anyone to be miserable in my class.

Being ever so helpful, I decided to gift a CD of the bowls to the woman that loves them. If she can’t have them in class, at least she could play them on her own. I told her only to play them at home, never in the car, they might relax her too much. Hardy-har.

It was a few weeks later, when I noticed them leaving together in the same car.

Turns out they are a married couple.

I inadvertantly sent the singing bowls home with her, to torture him at home.

Oops!

If you want to check out Tibetan Singing bowls to see if they resonate with you there are lots of sites on You Tube. Put some headphones on, and notice the effect they have on your body. Even closing your eyes for five minutes and listening to the bowls can give the worry- weary brain a needed rest or re-set. Or, try playing them as background noise and notice if they have a calming effect on your mood.

If you don’t like them, I promise not to send them home with you.