Let’s answer the obvious question first, “Why would anyone want to learn how to suffer?” Wouldn’t we rather learn how to avoid suffering instead?
Well, not exactly.
We spend so much time avoiding suffering that it ends up running our lives. If we learn how to dive into it and full experience it as it is, then it will no longer have that power over us.
It’s the act of running from pain that creates the experience of suffering.
It’s not just mental either. The spine and nervous system connect to parts of that body that “lock in” the experience of suffering. It’s like a fuse box in your house – sometimes things are too much for the circuit, so the switch flips to disconnect the circuit to avoid the overload.
But avoiding pain is only a short-term strategy
This is a great short-term strategy to close the circuit while something is happening that may cause damage, but if we don’t flip the switch BACK and fix what’s wrong with the circuit, it causes different problems than those it prevented. It’s like stubbed toes if that circuit went to your lights, rotting food if that circuit went to your refrigerator, or complete insanity if it powered the Wi-Fi!
The same thing happens in your body when the spine and nerve system are distorted by trauma, stress, and toxicity – the bones are like the fuses and the nerves are like the wiring.
Now, imagine if someone came in and did all the necessary repairs, but you kept turning off the fuse? This sounds totally crazy, BUT THAT’S WHAT WE DO! We have habits of avoidance –”I won’t go there or I’ll keep my guard up just in case it happens again”– that keep us stuck, sick, and in unnecessary pain. This is SUFFERING – we keep running from something, fighting something, being afraid of something, even when doing so causes us more pain. Pain, even intense pain, comes and goes when we fully experience it, and allows us to actually heal.
Why do I mention this?
Most of these habits that perpetuate suffering are things we’re not aware of! When someone leaves my office with an amazing spine, and comes back with the same mess they were in before, I know that they have a habit of creating suffering that, if they only knew what it was, they would stop! So my job in this article is to show you simple things you can do to suffer really well. In case you actually are in a place of suffering, committing to all of these will actually move you through it fairly quickly (seconds to minutes, maybe a couple hours). If it’s not fast, and if you’re just stuck in a habit of suffering (which is far more common), this will show you ways that you may be accidentally perpetuating suffering, so you now you can do something about it.
The recipe for suffering well
1. Make the suffering huge and all-pervasive, so that it completely fills the foreground of your mind. “It’s everywhere. It’s everything.”
2. Make the suffering seem permanent and unyielding. “It’s always there. It will never end.”
3. Take it personally. “It’s my fault.”
4. Have no options or choices. Believe you are helpless to change it. You are powerless. “There’s nothing I can do. I can’t control this.”
5. Attempt to do anything to avoid the experience. Run from it, cut it off, minimize it – anything other than feel it. “It’s terrifying. If I feel this, I will die.”
6. Maintain the experience of suffering in one solid, permanent location. Give it a name or find out exactly “what it is,” so you can make it solid, and therefore keep it forever. “It’s this thing. It’s right here. It’s mine.”
7. Feel separate. Withdraw from the world. “I am alone. No one could relate to this.”
We call this a “success strategy” because no matter what, when you put these pieces together, you will successfully create suffering. Whenever you’re feeling miserable, look at the above list and see how many pieces you’re using. Any one of these can begin the process of suffering – even using words associated with them, “always”, “never”, “mine”.
From this perspective, when we’re working with your spine in our neuro-spinal approach, we’re helping to achieve a “reality check” – a part of your body and nervous system that is stuck in a dysfunctional pattern of pain and suffering. So as long as the body is stuck, it sends signals to the brain that make you recreate suffering over and over. This is why when we work with the spine, long-term suffering changes.
When it doesn’t, that’s when you see which one (or more) of the above “success strategies” you’re using to rebuild the pain and suffering. Realizing that any one of the above list isn’t actually true, breaks down the stuck experience of suffering, decreasing its hold, and giving you better results than before!
To take this deeper, read “Stage 1” in Donny Epstein’s book The 12 Stages of Healing.
Align yourself, even for just a moment, with the underlying suffering, and surrender to the rhythm. You’ll be amazed how quickly it changes into something better – suffering only sustains when we keep it at bay! As the saying goes, “pain is a part of life, suffering is optional.”
If this is something that intrigues you or something that you’ve experienced, we’d love to speak with you further. Contact us today to schedule a complimentary consultation!