So much of what matters in life actually has nothing to do with the thing in question, but rather our relationship to it.
Pain and suffering
While cliche, it's quite true that pain is different than suffering. Think about when you're feeling a great deal of physical pain, or even when you've got minor body aches. Are the sensations often the only problem? Or is there something else at play?
In my recent experience, I've been dealing with quite a bit of abnormal pains throughout certain areas of my body. Enough to get me to see various specialists to figure out what's going on. But the physical pain has not been the hard part. For me, the challenge has been the story my mind has created around the pain, each and every time my body sends the signal.
Here I am, in this body, with this mind, paying attention to a body that's hurting, and a mind that's creating stories. The only question becomes, what is my relationship to the pains and stories? How do I be in wise relationship to the pains my body is producing, and the thoughts my mind is fabricating?
These are the questions that, when pondered and examined, bring richness to life.
When you look at or think about your significant other, are they perfect to you? If you don't have a significant other, imagine your best friend or a very close family member.
If you're in a honeymoon phase, you might say they're perfect. But after some time, most people would chuckle at the thought of their significant other being perfect.
But guess what. They are perfect. And so are you. What isn't perfect is your relationship to them. Specifically, I mean your relationship to the story you have about them.
Chances are, at some point or another, they've gotten on your nerves. They've said something insensitive, they've insulted you without knowing, or they've blatantly betrayed you. Whatever happened, they did something that didn't sit well with you.
Something completely out of your control happened, no different than the explosions on the sun happening right now, only this time, you got upset.
Now, the only question is, how did you handle it? Did you fight back, get revenge, or break up with them? In other words, did you deny the pain they caused, and run from it by acting out? Or, did you allow yourself to feel the deep, intense pain that they triggered inside you?
While tremendously difficult, allowing ourselves to simply feel heartbreak or immense emotional pain is really the only way through it. Otherwise, we end up creating more suffering along the way.
It's never what someone says, does, or what our minds say about them. Instead, how are we going to relate to their actions? How are we going to relate to our thoughts? These are the real questions we ought to be examining every day in our lives.
The present moment
Similar to how pain and our significant other are not the real problem, but rather our suffering attached to them, we can also examine how we relate to the present moment.
First, what most of us do, is to constantly resist what's happening. Someone says something we don't agree with, so we have an urge to fight back. Our favorite store is closed, so we throw a tantrum. Our car shows a check engine light, so we go into denial and act like it's not there.
Resistance shows up in many forms, but at the end of the day, it comes down to not being able to handle reality.
When we can't handle reality, it means we cannot accept what's happening. A lack of acceptance means that we cannot work with things. We're now operating off of a story in our minds, because what happened out there was too much for us to handle.
Since we cannot control reality, our minds make up a story that we at least have some control over. This story brings us away from the present moment, such that our relationship to the now has been tainted.
In fact, no matter if we're talking about pain, our significant other, or whatever, it's all about how we relate to those things in the present moment. If we can learn to cultivate a wise relationship with the present moment, and hold whatever is happening in awareness, then our ability to live life to the fullest is now a possibility.
Life can only be fully lived now, so we ought to form a healthy relationship with our only beloved, sacred moment - right now.
Live with substance!