“Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.”
I heard this quote for the first time recently, and it summed up a truth I had only uncovered after years of suffering.
Pain happens to all of us through life. Suffering is how we perceive the pain, how we choose to process it, and how long we choose to wear the label of pain.
It’s a choice.
The words of Joseph Campbell further expand on this concept:
“We’re in a freefall into future. We don’t know where we’re going. Things are changing so fast, and always when you’re going through a long tunnel, anxiety comes along. And all you have to do to transform your hell into a paradise is to turn your fall into a voluntary act. It’s a very interesting shift of perspective and that’s all it is… joyful participation in the sorrows and everything changes.”
How to create this shift in perspective? How to find joy in sorrow?
Practice. The shift happens subtly, in stages, and not the way you think it will or on your timeline. It starts when you meet yourself where you are.
In order to do that, you need to ask the question: Where are you?
And you have to listen deeply so you can hear the truth.
Once you know where you are, take a seat. Don’t just meet yourself and run off to find your better self.
Settle in here. Rest here. Be here.
Stop resisting your own emotions. Invite them in. Your fear, your doubt, your sorrow, your joy.
Not the story of these things, but these things themselves.
One of the things I learned in the yoga teacher training I attended recently is to start your practice from where you are. Your [yoga] practice will meet you there.
Your life will meet you here, where you are.
It reminds me of when I started surfing. I would chase the waves down and wear myself out so that when the best wave came, I was in the wrong place or was too exhausted to catch it.
People would tell me, “Let the wave come to you.”
So I share this powerful first step with you. I took this same step for years. One day I looked back and realized I had come farther than I’d imagined possible. It wasn’t by leaving myself behind. It wasn’t by pushing myself, breaking myself, or demanding of myself.
It was by meeting myself Here and taking the small step from Here. That’s how I got Here, by starting from Here.
Meet yourself where you are.
There is peace Here. From this place of peace you can choose to embrace a different perspective.
You can choose to shift your perspective. Choose to see the paradise in the hell. It’s there, buried under the suffering.