But what if we were to go into it instead?
Often we are told to “suck it up”, “grin and bear it”, or “move on”. Western culture is typically not comfortable with suffering. Skipping over or suppressing pain is often the advice we are given when asking the question: “How can I be happy?”
Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, suggests another pathway. She speaks to times in her life when paying attention to pain helped her to heal, stay connected with herself and the world, and find delight while in the shadowlands. She states:
In times of pain, when the future was too terrifying to contemplate and the past too painful to remember, I learned to pay attention to what was happening right now in this moment. Each moment, taken alone, was bearable [and] I began to notice that each moment was not without its beauty. 1
But how do we pay attention without becoming overwhelmed by pain? How do we know what to pay attention to? How can we pay that much attention to all those moments and still get anything else done?
One way that seems to help many folks is Mindfulness-Based Meditation (MBM). This non-religious practice of deep breathing and thoughtful awareness is proven to reduce stress, pain, depression, and anxiety and increase emotional well-being and quality of life.2 While MBM may not be something every person wants to try, paying attention to pain in a safe, supportive, and compassionate environment has helped many manage some very difficult moments (and days).
In counselling sessions at Second Story, some clients have found that beginning a session with MBM reduced their emotional distress and increased their self-awareness and ability to focus. Extending this practice to manage difficult emotions and situations at home and work has also proven to be effective.
Mindfulness-Based Meditation might be one of the tools you could pick up in counselling. Although no one is claiming it is a cure-all for every problem, it is recognized as one way to help people “get over” their pain at a pace—and within a space—that honours their struggle and hope.
Peace be to you and your household,
Shari van Spronsen, MC, RCC
Second Story Counselling
1Cameron, J. (2002). The Artist’s Way, 53-54.
2Greeson, J.M. (2009). Mindfulness Research Update: 2008.Complement Health Pract Rev. 14(1), 10-18. http://1.usa.gov/1iR1YtO