Something happens that is painful. We have this in common. The details may differ but we all know what it is like to suffer. What happens next?

We could be with it. Allow it to be noticed, to be fully felt and experienced. Remind ourselves that there is nothing wrong with us or life because we feel pain. It doesn’t mean we deserve it or shouldn’t have to experience it or that if we were more evolved or better at the Living Inquiries that we wouldn’t suffer. We don’t take it as proof that our deficiency story is true. We actually feel the sadness, grief, fear, anger;  whatever is present. We reach out to others. We give and receive support. We feel it and it moves through.

Intellectually we all know this is the option that holds the least suffering. Why don’t we do that? Fear plays a big role. We may have been afraid of our minds our whole lives. It may be we don’t believe we would survive our direct experience. Beliefs that may have been necessary protective mechanisms as children may still be running the show.

Distraction and addiction come to the rescue. You go shopping, watch Netflix, eat ice cream, or shoot crack cocaine. You give yourself a break, a time out, a reduction in intensity. Depending on the severity, you might be causing yourself great harm yet even knowing the consequences, can’t give it up. The behavior or substance provides temporary relief from the emptiness, panic and pain and that’s good enough for now.

Some people avoid feeling the emptiness within by lashing out. Distress builds up and you relieve it temporarily not by numbing or harming yourself but by hurting someone else. You project your suffering onto someone and say things you later regret. Call a friend for the latest juicy gossip. Systematically target that person at work who names what you cannot allow yourself to see. Uncomfortable with your own sexuality? Maybe you harass or beat or kill that young gay man who dares to flaunt his own.

We are all here because we suffer and we have a sense and hope there is a way out. Through the Living Inquiries we can, perhaps for the first time, fully experience our lives. The Velcro and triggers dissolve as we see through the unworthiness or unlovability or whatever we previously assumed to be true and who we are.  Through Natural Rest we dip our toe in the water of being present, of allowing the possibility we can be at peace. That we don’t have to avoid ourselves. Through community, we are supported in this journey. We don’t have to turn on ourselves or others. Another possibility opens up.