By Shefa Ali
Last week, I spent a couple of days in the hospital, I had to undergo surgery. It was my first time to go into an operating room, the whole thing was unwelcome, frightening and painful, but it also had revelatory power. It got me thinking about pain and suffering.
A funny thing happens when you spend a few days in pain, it becomes a master class on suffering. You get to spend countless hours in concentrated agony. In that time, I discovered something fascinating: 95% of the suffering existed only in the stories I told myself. Everything begins and ends in the mind. When I’m able to drop the stories…there is profound relief and the simplicity of this moment. Without the stories…there’s no problem. Anytime you’re suffering. Anytime you’re in deep pain. Check yourself and see where you are. Are you here, in reality? Or are you in thought land?
Last week pushed me to my limit and revealed a lot about myself. I was reminded of the frailty and failure of the flesh, but also how sophisticated and beautiful our bodies are and how gracefully they can also heal themselves.
The most important part of my experience was that it forced me to consider what is important and what is trivial. Now that I am healing, I feel blessed with new clarity and focus.
Healthy or not, no one’s life is without bumps in the road. When the going gets rough, instead of blaming yourself for your difficulties, try to see them as an inevitable part of the human experience. Then take that best of medicines: self-compassion. It will give rise to the healing sense of peace and well-being that accompany treating yourself as kindly as you’d treat a loved one in need.
I believe painful experiences wallow us to empathise when someone tells us about what they are going through. When someone speaks to me about their pain or suffering, I don’t just nod my head and feel sorry for them, I feel deep within me what that actually feels like – because I’ve touched a version of that pain myself.
And that’s allowed me to connect with people in a deeper, more meaningful way. Interestingly, the more situations in life we experience, the more deeply connected and plugged in we can feel to the humanity all around us. That’s a true gift.
* The author is a consultant and coach. Instagram handle: @miss_shefa, Website: missshefa.com
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