I find today that by taking my concerns and difficulties to bed with me last night only kept them close to me when I awoke this morning. I suppose I thought that my acceptance of my circumstances would allow these feelings of dread to pass away as I slept. But no such luck! Here they are, just as I left them yesterday.
But a few things are happening this morning that I am trying to observe and be mindful of. First of all is the physicality with which these feelings affect my body. Tightness in the chest, a dull headache, shallow breathing, and muscular aches and pains. I see that my body is completely responding to the disturbing emotions in my mind. This is not my body, I do not own it or control it.
Secondarily, as I read the morning news online, I became aware of the hardships and difficulties that are effecting so many others around the World. Earthquakes, storms, tornadoes, and numerous personal tragedies. One very powerful new story that I read involved a 6-year-old little boy who was helping his Dad clean up branches in the yard. The Father turned away for a moment, and the little boy got pulled into the wood chipper.
My mind could not even fathom the horror of this event. I cannot begin to comprehend how the Father and the Family must feel, or how they will find a way to deal with this and accept it.
And then I returned to awareness of my personal difficulties and saw instantly that nothing I am dealing with is of any significance compared to this.
So is the realization of others suffering a way to ease our own, and diminish its significance? I don’t think so. It may serve as a reality check, but this is not mindfulness with clear understanding (sati-sampajañña).
And don’t most of us easily become absorbed by our own problems? Feeling anger, sadness, desire, fear and numerous other emotions that seem totally personal and exclusive. And are they ever eliminated by witnessing the suffering of others? For me, the answer is no. I feel compassion for those who are suffering, and send them loving kindness in my thoughts. But I see that this will not eliminate their difficulties or lessen my own.
But perhaps these other human beings are my teachers right now. Teaching me that my desire to be free of my own difficulties is no different from having a desire to eliminate their hardships. The root of this dread lies in my ego and the desire to end suffering. It’s not about me, and it’s not for me to control. Again I remind myself of Bhante Sujatha’s message of accept, be mindful, and cultivate.
And it is with this reminder that I will attempt to return to a place of gratitude. And isn’t that where I belong.
May you be well, happy and peaceful.