Suffering For What?

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming.”~~Helen Keller

Suffering is defined as “the state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship.”  We all know the feeling well.  Suffering sometimes feel like nerves or the brain on fire.

Sometimes it’s difficult to target what really makes us suffer–the person, that thing, that situation, or the WAY we see or perceive the person, thing, situation…

Go ahead, take the liberty to contemplate this question.  Really give yourself permission to get deep into it.

Yesterday my niece and I were strolling around the cemetery district on Canal Street in New Orleans.  If  cemeteries are places where you get your consciousness on, you will be more than satisfied with what you find at the end of Canal Street.  “The Historic New Orleans Cemetery District is comprised of the oldest Jewish cemeteries, two Masonic cemeteries, three Catholic cemeteries, three cemeteries owned by fraternal societies, and Holt Cemetery owned by the city of New Orleans. The official New Orleans Katrina Memorial is located here in the former Charity Hospital Cemetery on Canal Street.”

Indeed when I am at a graveyard, even if it is in the middle of a busy and high traffic place, I unconsciously lock out the world (so suffering, no pain, no folks bugging the hell out of you, no bill-collectors).  Do you know what I mean? Suddenly, you have “clear” state of mind… well, it is how I felt.  And, in moments like those, I tend to put everything into perspective,

Running helps me clear my mind and gets me into the moment of contemplating what is important.  The workload placed on my body may be viewed by many as suffering.  Sometimes I feel agony, especially when trying to take the last few steps to complete the last mile, but when I put things into perspective, take my mind off the hurting toe or whatever else is screaming at me to stop, I put my mind into WILL-POWER mode, remembering why I run (for my fitness and health, and for yours too), then it’s a done deal!  Serious run of a sentence there, eh?  Whehhh!

Suffering is a word that has “suffered” much attention lately.  It’s all you hear in the news, especially in these rough and trying economic and diseases-running-rampant times.  Lately, we’ve been straining every nerve to hear a word of hope or an expression of good news.  My mother was recently very ill and I’ve done my best to be there for her.  Having a bit more advanced knowledge of illnesses and complications of illnesses due to my nursing training has caused me to suffer a bit more (I think) than some folks in the family.

I had to come to term with the impermanence of many things: me, people, life, places, situation, etc.  This I do know and have to remind myself–suffering is everywhere.  Everybody suffers.  This is not the end of the deal, though.  It is more important that one realize that even suffering is impermanent, and the best tools to cut through suffering may very well be training your mind not to be attached to what is impermanent.  And when it all comes down to donkey dung, thoughts are a great place to start cutting. That’s the knife you can start cutting your suffering with.

OYE!  This two cents I just shared may not be enough to scrape together to add up to a dime, but it’s all I have, and it’s how I try to overcome my suffering when I realize I am suffering.  I put my head above the clouds, hand the thoughts of suffering (’cause that’s really what makes us suffer…our thoughts) as a prayer over to the SPIRIT, and I breathe.  Being at a cemetery, running, meditating, praying, all these instruments help me cut through the illusion of suffering.  These I found to be “full of overcoming.”  While we are at it, there are millions of people suffering unnecessarily from chronic diseases: heart problems, high blood pressure, diabetes, some cancers, etc–most of which preventable by adopting a diet rich in whole (live and unprocessed) foods, regular exercise, decreased stress, Vitamin D (good ‘ole sun exposure), quality sleep (and rest) etc, etc, etc…