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HAPPINESS INCLUDES PAIN



Image taken from https://mindfulled.com/spiritual-bypassing-self-avoidance-instead-of-self-realization/

Most of the literature on well-being tackles getting rid of pain so you can enjoy a life mostly full of happiness. This is a radical mistake from a spiritual point of view and therefore counterproductive. In many spiritual and indigenous traditions such as Buddhism, Taoism, and Sufism, happiness or an inner sense of contentment is not separated from painful experiences that might cause profound sadness or grief. Pain is part of the human experience, and painful experiences such as sickness, old age, and change are unavoidable because they are part of the display of life. The problem is not the pain itself, but our intense desire to resist or deny the existence of our pain. We create so many things in our heads to deny this experience (mentally, emotionally, and psychologically) that we feel trapped by our own attachments of wanting to escape.

Compared to a traditional psychological approach in the west, healing, from a spiritual perspective, is attained by working with pain rather than trying to make it go away. Therefore, the person (sooner or later) has to be confronted with their traumas, painful experiences, and misinterpretations of reality that are creating excessive suffering. In Buddhism, for example, particularly in the Tantric school of Tibetan Buddhism, practitioners are interested in seeing their attitudes and responses towards pain, as these responses will determine how content the person is in his/her life.

The most powerful healing techniques in the west are those that do not promote well-being at the expense of pain. Gradually, through genuine and honest inner work, the person realises that there is nothing transcendental or relevant in wanting to fix chakra energies or predict the future. Rather, they start cultivating those qualities that we already have: mental sanity, non-harming, patience, generosity, vigour (energy), contemplation, and wisdom. These are called the six perfections in Buddhism. Therapeutic approaches such as Family constellations might also work from this premise (depending on the facilitator and its level of awareness, of course!). Rather than letting go of your family history and all that you'd like to reject, we become stronger individuals who are courageous enough to face life with pain and beauty. This work is based on pure contemplation at the core of life: impermanence, change, and the fact that pain will never go away.

But, how do we cultivate courage? by practice. The person, through meditation and contemplation practices, awakes to the idea that we barely live our lives; we mostly conceptualise our experiences. We are so accustomed to eating more mental rumination. From this inner space, the person can build openness in the heart and mind, which finally affects their immediate reaction to escape pain.

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