In Buddhism, suffering refers to a dissatisfaction with what is, or conversely, an attachment to what isn’t. And, to release ourselves from suffering, we must recognize that life is impermanent, and relinquish attachment to a certain want or result.
In Christianity, the concept of faith plays out by relinquishing control to God. Putting faith in the fact that God has a plan.
When it comes to physical pain, we often make matters worse by creating additional suffering. The Buddha compares being afflicted with bodily pain to being struck by an arrow. Adding mental pain (aversion, displeasure, depression, or self-pity) to physical pain is like being hit by a second arrow. The wise person stops with the first arrow.
There are tales of Buddhist monks with cancer or other chronic illness that are in pain and yet, they experience serene peace.
I tried to test this concept of ‘letting go’ on myself when I was sick recently. There were moments when my head hurt really bad, or I was upset about being sick, or angry with my body and the hand ‘I’ve been dealt,” and I tried to melt into the emotion and sensation, become one with it instead of fight it. However brief, the pain lessened as I gave up the struggle with what was actually happening physically.
It’s the emotional equivalent of unclenching your fists. Try this: physically stiffen everything in your body, make fists, squish your face, hold your breath. This is struggle. Now, let go. This is surrender. Which one feels better, more at peace?
Surrender can take many forms: prayer, meditation, emotional release, expression, forgiveness, and acceptance. Sometimes just saying the words out loud, “I surrender,” can help.
All pain can teach us something, we just have to be willing to try and find the opportunity for faith and healing instead of firing another arrow at ourselves.
– Your Charmed Yogi
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