The Art of Suffering

Handling our suffering is an art. If we know how to suffer, we suffer much less, and we're no longer afraid of being overwhelmed by the suffering inside. Instead, we should fear not knowing how to handle suffering. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Happy New Year Dear Ones!

The new year is a time when we tend to reflect on our lives, and like you, in 2017, I’ve had many joys and sorrows. The political climate has been painfully charged and divisive for the nation, mirroring the crippling environmental devastations experienced throughout the world. I’ve lost two sisters, married my beloved on our tenth year anniversary, partnered in launching the 6th Dedicated Practitioners Program at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, became an active member of the Sounds True family, taught the dharma and Mindful of Race program across the nation, and completed my second book. I’m gratitude for good health, dear friends, a deepening practice, and a global sangha.

In mindfulness practice, we discover that happiness and suffering are two sides of the same feather, blown by the winds of change. Neither is our enemy or our savior. Each helps us know the depth of the other. We ripen our capacity to humbly experience the nature of complexity, chaos, and uncertainty, and we recognize that nothing in life is personal, permanent, or perfect.

Collectively we are sacred geometry, extensions of each other. What we do or don’t do has impact—this is the interrelated truth of our existence. Understanding the basic laws of our existence affords us a beautiful opportunity to examine our experience from a wider and wiser lens and to respond with an understanding of our responsibility and impact on others and future generations. Imagine that our only job is to mirror each other’s goodness.

There is never time in the future in which we will work out our salvation. The challenge is in the moment; the time is always now. ~ James Baldwin

The freedom we seek is not dependent on whether we can control external circumstances. The freedom we seek is subtler and more in our control. This freedom can be known even in a sea of ignorance and suffering. This freedom depends on us cultivating the mind and heart so that we bring wise awareness and compassion to the certainty of suffering and put an end to it from the inside out.

If you are irritated by every rub, how can you be polished. ~ Rumi

For 2018, don’t be afraid of getting your heart broken. Do your work, say your prayers, then do your best. Grieve, rest, keep hate at bay, and join with others for refuge and resistance. Don’t get too far ahead of now! This moment is enough to digest. Sit, breathe, open, and don’t be a stranger to moments of freedom that may be flirting with you. Allow suffering to teach you how to be more human. Sit in the heat of it until your heart is both warmed and informed, then make a conscious choice to be a light. ~ Ruth King

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