Suffering is everywhere. We see it in people’s faces, hear it in their voices, see it on the news. As we attempt to pay attention to suffering we can hear it in our own thoughts, feel it in our bodies and see it in the face in the mirror. Often people balk at this practice because they believe it involves too much exposure to suffering in its most extreme forms; eg the death of someone you love, or children who are victims of war. Why after all would we go looking for such a thing, when it is bound to visit us in the future at some point or other.
However as this task evolves and we become more aware, we begin to discover that there is an ever-present spectrum of suffering – from mild irritation and impatience to anger and overwhelming grief – that is an integral part of our experience, of what it is to be human.
As you go about your day, pay attention to the phenomenon of suffering. How do you detect it in yourself and in others? Where is it most obvious? What are the milder forms? What are the more intense experiences of suffering.
When you notice suffering, particularly when it is within you, try to bring some compassion to your experience and say gently to yourself…it is OK, let me be with it, as best I can, in this moment.
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Image courtesy of spratmackrel