Monday, December 27, 2010


It feels important to write about this today.  When I write, I am able to gain more clarity for myself, and for some reason now is the time to examine 'suffering' just a bit.

There are two kinds of suffering: 'legitimate' and 'non-legitimate'.  As human beings we experience both, but we often don't know the difference.  I know I didn't - until I did.  And each type of suffering must be dealt with differently, to truly be resolved. With legitimate suffering, you recognize it for what it is, 'have it', take care of the symptoms, and take action toward physical healing/change.  With non-legitimate suffering, you recognize it for what it is, apply forgiveness, and identify underlying issues and clear them.  Physical healing/change then happens, as a result.  Let me give some examples to explain what I mean.

Recently, a good friend of mine had gout in his foot. He said how painful it was, and how extremely frustrating too, because he'd just begun a vigorous exercise routine to try to lose some weight.  Now, he couldn't exercise, which would also have helped his gout to heal.  He was in such a double bind.  As he shared with me, I recalled when I'd also had gout years ago, in my right knee.  It hurt.  Nothing I did with either traditional or alternative medicine seemed to help.

I was more naive then in the ways of understanding how 'we create our own reality', consciously and/or unconsciously.  As I suffered from the pain in my knee (legitimate), I also suffered (non-legitimate) in the feelings of shame and guilt.  As the result of my own fledgling studies, I believed that we each have a part in creating our own circumstances and experiences in life.  I applied this principle incorrectly, however, when I blamed myself for creating my own painful gout, for which I'd found no relief.  My 'New Age' friends drilled my blame even deeper with their comments of how I wouldn't be in so much pain if I had identified and cleared the issues that had created my condition.  Their words were of blame only, not helpful in any way. There was no compassion, only judgment and accusation.  I felt wracked with thoughts  (non-legitamate pain) of: "I should have know better", and "I should be able to heal myself", and "Why haven't I already taken care of the problem".  The most difficult thought for me was, "If I have caused this myself, I must have 'wanted' it.  Thereby, I must be a person who deserves no sympathy, no kindness, no compassion.  No, not for me."  Hopelessness reigned

Forgiveness was needed, and compassion - for myself, and for others.  Without full understanding of a principle, a little knowledge can do more harm than good, especially when applied with an air of judgment.  I had indeed been looking within myself to find possible connections with old personal issues that might show up as gout in my knee, but I was unclear.  .

At this point, gratefully, the awareness began.  Did I want the pain?  No, of course not. Nobody does. But on another level, I want learning, awareness, and understanding - the kind that only having pain can yield.  Pain is my teacher in that way.  With intention, pain can help bring to light much that has been hidden away in the realms of the subconscious.  In my case, I came to the awareness of a neediness I'd been struggling without knowing it.  As I hobbled around with a sore knee, 'being so brave', the reactions I received from family and friends were often expressions of sympathy.  There was a power in gaining attention and the sympathies of others. Having that gout in my knee had 'perks'.  I got sympathy, a sense of power, and attention which I mistook for love.  Those 'perks' helped fill a neediness within me, because I didn't yet know how to fill it myself.  The results weren't totally safisfying, but it was at least 'something'.  Now that those personal issues of 'neediness' or more clear, and I've found true personal power and love, the need is filled and the neediness has disappeared. 'Need' is one thing.  As human beings, we all have needs.  But 'neediness' is something else.  That's issue-based.

Years have passed since that time.  I was able to apply forgiveness  - to myself for harboring self-punishing thoughts and judgments, and to others as well.  I took care of my symptoms, and continued in my internal investigation of where metaphors might show what had helped create the gout in my knee in the first place.  Healing happened, the gout disappeared, and has not returned to this day.  Looking back, I see that I learned much from that whole process.  I had to forgive myself first, and then I could better focus on caring for my physical symptoms.  Then, and only then, could I really look at causative issues.

As my life continues, I see that some issues are more 'core' than others, showing up more frequently and in different ways.  Many issues seem to manifest themselves as physical illness, and for that I am grateful because the body is such a good messenger.  When there is a physical malady connected with a persona issue (or two...), it's easier to connect the two and actually work to clear the issue itself with so many of the 'issue-clearing' tools available in our world right now. 

The first thing I do nowadays when I find myself in suffering is to acknowledge the pain itself.  "It hurts".  And to really look at it - 'Have it', if you will.  As I do that, I am better able to see what to do next.  And too, then the legitimate aspects of the pain run their course better, and sometimes I need to nothing but care for myself as best I can in the process.  Then I ask, "What parts are 'legitimate', and which parts might be 'non-legitimate' (or, issue-based).  Then, before I even begin any investigation into issues, I forgive myself first, knowing we each do the best we can in any circumstance, at any moment  Only then do I investigate issues I might have been unaware of.  For help in the process, I ask a higher source than my own intellect and understanding for more clear sight, understanding, courage, and for patience.  (I have such a tendency to want to have all the answers right now!  No crystal ball here, that's for sure.)

I must admit, that to see more clearly those connections between my own actions and what's happening in my body (and other life experiences), I must consciously access that quiet inside and really listen, with humility, knowing that I may now really 'know'.  Answers come only within that quiet.  When judgement, doubt, even conclusions happen, they must be banished.  Only in a void can that still, small, hint of a 'voice' be heard.  When I follow that, the 'non-legitimate' suffering vanishes completely, I'm better able to care for myself in the 'legitimate' suffering, ease the symptoms, and my body is much more supported in a healing process.  Interestingly, I've found that 'legitimate' suffering is also easier to bear at the time, and there is more learning from it, afterward.  With legitimate suffering, I can now better allow the attending emotions to flow through, consciously breathing to help them on their way, and eventually the situation resolves itself , becoming a memory only.  Clarity ensues.  And peace.


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