“Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before–more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle.”
Ahh pain. Suffering. What is it? How do the two differ? How are they the same? Today I injured myself giving a Thai Massage. Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. Pain and suffering are not the same things. Pain is a physical sensation; suffering is how we choose to experience it.
Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote,
The Buddha compares being afflicted with bodily pain to being struck by an arrow. Adding mental pain (aversion, displeasure, depression, or self-pity) to physical pain is like being hit by a second arrow. The wise person stops with the first arrow.”
“Same same but different” echoes the ethereal voice of my Thai yoga teacher in my mind. Slowly, slowly. Arms straight, back straight. “I did this massaging someone” the thought invades my mind, carrying with it grief and disbelief. I know exactly what I did. Lift, twist – from the core. Bandhas engaged, breath mindful. Intuition at the beginning of the massage telling me to go easy. And yet – in that last moment – I felt it clearly. I gently let go.
Knowing and Honoring my body, I saved myself from more serious injury. I’m certain of that. I’m also certain and grateful for my yoga practice which created this inner wisdom.
Five lessons I’ve learned from pain
- let go
- be where you are, no escaping
- suffering is optional
- there are many things to be grateful for
We learn the most powerful lessons during our times of greatest suffering.