Mastery through Misery

We awaken through suffering. It’s true. We also awaken through beauty.

But more often suffering.

It’s our misery and our desire to be free of it, that compels us to seek the deep pool of calm within. We discover inner resources. We develop resilience and depths of compassion and empathy for others in similar situations of suffering.

We fortify our core as we become the source of our strength, power and peace.

I had this weird mashup of archetypes in my early 20s. Super head-strong rebel combined with the ever-vulnerable victim. Not a good combination.

This combo made bad relationship choices.

I had the doctors stumped with my weight loss and intense abdominal pain. I blamed it on school: the starving student was an easy target.

Funny thing. When I left that relationship, the pain left.

And this is the tricky part. When clients come to me and speak about their physical struggles and health issues, we always talk about what was happening in their lives when the issues arose. There is often a trigger to our health issues. It can be a slow build over time, or a sudden onset, but I find that adults inherently know the root of their suffering. When we start talking about it, the cause typically surfaces in their minds and our conversation.

So… to leave or to bear.

I have a Shaman friend. One thing I find fascinating about him is his ability to leave any situation he doesn’t enjoy. He told me he once attended a group meditation and the facilitator was terrible. So he walked out.

I laughed out loud. Partly because I could see him just up and leaving somewhere between “envision a purple cloud of light” and “be the cloud.” And partly because I would love to have that courage. My style is more stealthy. I’ve been known to sneak out of events I don’t enjoy. Polite Canadian? Afraid to offend? Opportunity to transcend?

Courage to leave or courage to stay. When to do which?

We must leave toxic situations. Dangerous situations. Demeaning situations.

We must also understand what situations and relationships trigger in us that creates our suffering.

Otherwise we will live in a constant state of the grass is greener, searching for Utopia outside of us rather than the source of calm, strength and love that abides within.

When we witness our triggers and trace their source, a moment of insight into our mind, our conditioning and our pain body reveals itself. When we allow the rising of this trigger, accept the emotions that ensue, breathe with them and understand that it is not us – it is not happening at this time, it is not the true self – we move into mastery of our experience.

Such awareness we must have, yet caution of narcissism: too much focus, too much energy on the self.

Do we create our suffering as a condition to evolve?

I’m certain I’m guilty of over-analysis. But the mind likes to play.  I’ve considered every angle over the years of my spinal issues and resulting pain. It’s funny. The mind chases its tail like a puppy. Meanwhile, maybe the cause of suffering wasn’t even important. Maybe what we do with the suffering, how we move through it – transcend it -is the important part.

I can’t begin to list the myriad of ways in which life has changed for the better because of my altered course due to my spine. The depths of contemplation, practice, investigation, creativity, insight and openness you will plumb while in the grip of pain, you would not have otherwise explored.


I have to remind myself

Don’t create misery to achieve mastery.


2 thoughts on “Mastery through Misery

  1. This was amazing and so what I needed to read today. Although I don’t often have time to respond, I want you to know I love everything you write ❤️ Keep sharing!

    Xo E

    Sent from my iPhone



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