It's been more than 30 days since I've been homebound during the COVID crisis. The world is experiencing a pandemic, and operating on one of the lowest frequencies I've ever been able to witness. So, when I get a new booking for trauma or spiritual coaching I am almost certain that it is Coronavirus related. I fire up my Zoom and stare back at the face searching mine for some type of peace, because they're in the midst of their suffering.
Suffering, is a fact of life and no matter how monastic ones life is, suffering will be a part of it. However, suffering can be transformed into happiness. In fact, Thich Nat Hanh states:
"The essence of our practice can be described as transforming suffering into happiness. It’s not a complicated practice, but it requires us to cultivate mindfulness, concentration, and insight."
Let me tell you about this...in October of 2019 my father transitioned from his physical body into the spiritual world and although, I practice non-attachment my heart was consumed with heartache and suffering. Still, I had to pull through, plan a service for him, execute it, and returned to work in less than two weeks. My grieving was done with being able to acknowledge, embrace, and understand my suffering, and in doing so, I suffered much less. Acknowledging, embracing, and understanding ones suffering does not equal minimizing it. Quite the contrary, it simply means to obtain clarity about our suffering so that it can liberate us from afflictions such as jealousy or anger, and allow true happiness to come.
Fast forward to the present, on March 23rd I felt tightness in my chest, mucous build up at a rapid rate that constricted my breathing. I immediately became frightened and feared that I had caught and showed symptoms of the coronavirus. I started to panic, and anxiety set in. I was suffering, at home alone with my daughter and started to think ahead as if I were going to transition due to the virus; so much so, that I started looking for my life insurance policy to lay it out on my desk so that it would be easy to find for my loved ones. I was suffering and didn't know how to handle it in that moment, I became overwhelmed by my suffering. I then remembered my spiritual practice of mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the best way to be with our suffering without being overwhelmed by it. Mindfulness is the capacity to dwell in the present moment, to know what’s happening in the here and now. In this moment I acknowledged that it was difficult to breathe so I got into lotus position and became aware of my breath. I stopped thinking about the future and whether whatever I was suffering from was going to make me transition. I stopped worrying about if I had coronavirus because in that moment I could not find out. But in the present moment I could become one with my breath, and practice yogi breaths, and attempt some pranayama breathing. I meditated for over 20 minutes, became one with my lungs and breathing. I am an energy healer so I started to treat myself as if I were one of my energy healing clients. I scanned my lungs to find the source of the problem, asked my lungs what it needed to be healed. I sent love and compassion to my lungs, and practiced deep breathing as best as I could. I also imagined myself healed, and sent golden light to my lungs while I breathed. This all took place on Saturday night, by Monday morning I called my doctor and went for an appointment where she diagnosed me with a respiratory infection, gave me medication and sent me on my way.
When we breathe in and we know we’re breathing in, that’s mindfulness. When we make a step and we know that the steps are taking place, we are mindful of the steps. Mindfulness is always mindfulness of something. It’s the energy that helps us be aware of what is happening right now and right here—in our body, in our feelings, in our perceptions, and around us. With mindfulness, you can recognize the presence of the suffering in you and in the world. And it’s with that same energy that you tenderly embrace the suffering. By being aware of your in-breath and out-breath you generate the energy of mindfulness, so you can continue to cradle the suffering. Practitioners of mindfulness can help and support each other in recognizing, embracing, and transforming suffering. With mindfulness we are no longer afraid of pain. We can even go further and make good use of suffering to generate the energy of understanding and compassion that heals us and we can help others to heal and be happy as well.
With mindfulness we are no longer afraid of pain. We can even go further and make good use of suffering to generate the energy of understanding and compassion that heals us and we can help others to heal and be happy as well.
I was able to generate mindfulness by stopping and taking a conscious breath. I stopped to focus on the part of my body that was suffering. I was able to send understanding and love to this area to go inward to listen to my body so that it could tell me what it needed. In doing so the entire day of Sunday prior to going to the doctor on Monday I nurtured and focused on my lungs and my breathing in the present, with each breath. In doing so I suffered well. If we do this in our lives we will alleviate a lot of our pain and suffering about what happened in the past, or what might happen in our future and we are able to suffer well. When we suffer well we can help others who are in the midst of their suffering, in our communities, in the world. In doing so, I came right back home on Monday after the doctor and took Zoom coaching appointments, cooked for my daughter, and no one had a clue about my suffering.
We can condition our bodies and minds to happiness with the five practices of letting go, inviting positive seeds, mindfulness, concentration, and insight.
Letting go is the practice of detachment. Detachment is about releasing our need for the object of attachment. We still try our best and give it our best go but not being entangled in fear and anxiety. Consequently, detachment means more involvement, but without being attached to the outcome.
Positive thought is what's needed in a time filled with negativity surrounding us. It is the art of changing our tape of negative talk and replacing it with positivity. I spoke positively to my lungs, and also visioned my lungs healed. If we are to obtain happiness we must ensure our thought pattern is positive.
Mindfullness-based joy is having joy in the present, no matter what you're doing. I could be doing the most menial task but I do it with joy. I think about what a joy it is to be alive to be able to complete the task instead of negative thoughts consuming me. Doing it with joy sends happiness to the forefront.
Concentration is key. I am writing this blog, giving it my complete concentration. I won't allow myself to stop every 5 mins to check my text messages, social media, nor email. Give your tasks your complete concentration. Concentration is steeped in mindfulness.
Insight is seeing what is there. It is the clarity that can liberate us from afflictions such as jealousy or anger, and allow true happiness to come. Every one of us has insight, though we don’t always make use of it to increase our happiness. If mindfulness and concentration are there, then insight will be there and we can make use of it to swim away, free.
Happiness is something that we must nourish and cultivate in our lives with mindfulness, non attachment, positive thought, mindfulness-based joy, concentration, and insight even in the worst of times. Happiness is obtainable by suffering better. Although, you will suffer in life, you can practice the art of suffering and tap into your joy and experience true happiness.
*Some excerpts from No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering, by Thich Nhat Hanh. © 2014 by United Buddhist Church.