Recently in my life, challenges have appeared. My friend’s dad suddenly passed away at the early age of 52. A colleague's husband lost his job, forcing them to put their house on the market and down size. An acquaintance lost her 13 week old baby. Personally, I didn’t get accepted into graduate school, for the second time. Disappointments, obstacles, hardships, whatever you call them, life is full of suffering. I’m usually a pretty positive person, but when so many difficult situations present themselves, I have to take a step back and try to listen what the Universe, God, Allah, the Divine, the higher power, is telling me.
Thich Nhat Hahn, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace advocate, authored a text entitled No Mud, No Lotus. A lotus grows in muddy ponds. Despite the struggles the flower goes through in the deep, dark, murky waters, it blooms into a beautiful lotus. Floating effortlessly on the water, none of the mud appears on its petals, just pure beauty. Like the lotus, we weather dark, difficult times that challenge us to grow. If we move through the struggle, work through the setback, we, like the lotus, will transform into something special, something truly beautiful on the inside and out. In his book, Thich Nhat Hahn recognizes the key to happiness is not to run away from suffering, but rather to practice techniques that help us transform our suffering into happiness. The practice of yoga, meditation, contemplative prayer and silence (just to name a few) train the mind, body and soul to find true happiness. How, you might ask? The awareness of the breath is the first step. It causes us to reduce the multitasking mind (a skill the world values and demands) and directs our focus into the present moment. The ritual of practice creates muscle memory in us, it makes us strong. So when we are living our daily life, we are able to quickly retrieve our mindful techniques and put them into practice. The application piece is key. When we choose to tap into our training, in the moment of conflict or arousal, we transform our suffering into happiness. It could be in that moment of haste or panic when taking a simple breath is all we can control. For, it is within this breath-taking moment, we choose to respond rather than react. Creating space between our thoughts allows us to choose our intention behind our words, behind our thoughts and behind our anticipations.
Whoa. Big stuff, philosophy. Just come to a yoga practice, it will all make sense, haha. :) To wrap it up, life is wonderful; it is because of these suffering moments that build us, prepare us and allow us to enjoy the “sweetness” of life.