“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” –Leo Buscaglia, author (1924-1998)
Suffering and pain are such a part of life, and yet our response to these states in ourselves and others is often ripe with confusion and discomfort. How are we with the pain that occurs on a regular basis? How present can we be with the discomfort in ourselves and others so that we can move to a deeper level, find resolution and relax into acceptance and being available to ourselves and others.
We tell ourselves we are fine and brush off the “I’m fine” in others in order to avoid a dialogue with ourselves or with them, or to avoid the possibility of moving into a deeper connection. We’ve all experienced a sigh of relief when we speak to someone and feel listened to and understood, as though we could sink a little deeper into whatever surface on which we sit, the jaw drops, shoulders relax, toes uncurl. Superficial discomfort and confusion disappears.
Emotions, even the very painful, become less uncomfortable and more tolerable, even if there is a temporary escalation in discomfort . Suffering dissipates. Turning inward, observing from that same unconditional part of ourselves, totally present for the emotional reaction of current or past experiences, offers that same sense of being understood. Taking a small step back from being overly identified with thoughts and feelings offers an opportunity for the pain to loosen and let go.
Self-regulation is this relaxed alert state from which the embodied states of suffering can be calmly witnessed. Rather than judging, evaluating or pushing away these reactive feelings and thoughts, allow yourself to observe, soothe and calm these parts of you. Make room for the feelings and thoughts you or others experience, for the the human experience. Contain these feelings within a state of compassionate understanding.
See these experiences through the eyes of compassion and with the ears of understanding. And next time you see suffering in the eyes of another or sense suffering in the eyes of some younger part of you, take a breath, be present, and become part of the transformation process, offering a little kindness. Move towards rather than away from the pain and watch calm replace fear and suffering.