There is a wonderful quote that I encourage you to contemplate:

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”

This quote doesn’t talk about physical pain, but emotional pain. Emotional pain can manifest as insecurity, discomfort and discontent, in addition to the more obvious sadness, longing, rejection or frustration. But you don’t have to suffer when you’re in pain.

In her interview with Oprah Winfrey, Tibetan Buddhist nun Pema Chodron explains how we can bring an end to our suffering using a beautifully simple exercise you can do anytime! Here’s the video:

One of the key elements of eliminating suffering is to accept the situation – to accept the pain in the moment, instead of trying to push it away. The situation IS, no matter how much you try to wish it away, and your resistance to the situation is one of the causes of suffering (for example, if you experience a breakup, you may spend a lot of time wishing that things could be different, but since they aren’t, you suffer far more than you need to).

Pema Chodron also explains the benefits of breathing in the situation to accept it, and how this marvelous exercise influences your physical state by releasing the awful knots in the stomach or pains in the heart, physical symptoms that remind us how real emotional pain is (this influences your physiology and makes you feel better right away).

Accepting the situation is something you can practice in meditation. You can start with less emotionally charged situations to familiarize yourself with the technique, and then apply it to situations that are more emotionally painful:

End Your Suffering With The Practice Of Meditation

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Relax into a meditative state… focus your attention on your breath to calm your mind… when your mind is calm, breathe in the unwanted situation and just sit with it – let it be in your space, in your experience. It already is anyway, so stop resisting it and let it in. KNOW THAT THIS IS SAFE.

how to end your sufferingOkay here is the situation. Right now, in this moment, just breathe. Inhale and accept, exhale and feel the words, “Thank you.” Inhale and accept, exhale and feel the words, “Thank you.” Do this as many times as you need to. Saying thanks makes it easier to accept the situation because just saying thank you implies that the situation is, or can be, beneficial to you. That, in itself, releases suffering. Yes, it still hurts, but you can shift your focus from “poor me” to gratitude for the hidden benefits of the situation.

Try this exercise anytime you feel pain (and yes, you can use this for physical pain too, as a way to feel better emotionally and easing your pain by shifting your attention on to something positive).Free 8 Minute Deep Meditation

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Share your thoughts on this blog post below...

    3 replies to "How To End Your Suffering Now"

    • Marilee Gabriel

      I learned of this practice years ago, but it took a while before I understood that it wasn’t about heaping more suffering into my heart. It’s about recognizing what you’re feeling, what already is, and breathing through it. I also use these moments to visualize wherever there is suffering in the world or world leaders who carry the lives and welfare of millions. It doesn’t matter if my heart hurts to pray for them. Our higher self can translate our prayers. My prayer is to spend a few minutes or longer, sitting beside that person or group in their human vulnerability breathing for them. I used to be conflicted about who or what to pray to. With this practice, this conflict has also dissipated. One thing is, that the language of breathing in suffering and making it bigger is confusing for former Catholics, therapists, and people in recovery. It needs to be framed differently. If you can figure it out, it’s a wonderful practice. And Pema is a wonderful teacher. I hope she does reframe it somehow.

      • Project Meditation

        We more than appreciate you choosing to share your thoughts here Marilee.
        There’s no doubt it’ll inspire others too.
        Namaste – The PM Team 😉

    • Marilee Gabriel

      P.S. I think Oprah tried to clear up the “masochistic” sound of the instruction, and I’m sure she has heard this from others. As Pema said, we have to use our own words. But the gist of it is to recognize your emotional state and settle down with it. Breathe in, Accept it. Breathe out, release it. And do some loving kindness for yourself and others who are suffering…maybe even more than you are.

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