Turning Pain into Compassion
Yesterday was a complete roller coaster ride. I woke up later than I'd have liked to, and I was still exhausted. To top it off, I was having the worst case of the mean reds since last August's spinal surgery (for a definition of the mean reds go to this link or, better yet, go out and rent Breakfast at Tiffany's).
When I say I was having the worst case of the mean reds, what I mean is I was in a very dark area. In my Getting Out of the Blue Funk post (see link above) I spoke of a thick cloud-like sensation hovering around my heart area. I had this sensation once again, only worse. It felt crippling. I know I have all of the tools needed to dissolve this depression, yet I just couldn't connect to any of the practices; they all felt so foreign, so far away from me. In fact, at one point, while laying in bed, I felt like I was so disconnected from the Heart Center, from the innate bliss that's there for us at all times (although, in my experience, it's sometimes more difficult to find than others).
I cried a little; however, I knew it was an 'O, poor me' cry. It was an "I'm so helpless: my arm doesn't work right and is always in pain, I'm on all of these meds (which I can't stand to be on, but they are helping my spinal injuries heal, so I think I'll keep taking them!). I remember feeling like such a child, laying there with my eyebrows knitted, pouting. Then it hit me. Bang! The REAL crying began. For what seemed like three minutes, I lay in bed with my mouth wide open, my stomach clenched in as far as possible, and just cried. It was an involuntary cry. I didn't breath for the entire three minutes. The tears rolled down my face. It was a fantastic purge. I felt renewed; rejuvenated, and I could breath again. Although I was still in pain, I didn't feel any pity towards my condition, and I didn't feel unfortunate to be alive. I mean, come on, I could have easily been paralyzed before, during, or after my surgery. I can live with a little arm pain. I felt so happy that I went downstairs and worked on the computer. I've learned how to add pictures to my blog. (They look pretty cool, don't you think?)
So, lesson number one is: it's okay to cry. I truly believe that last night's cry released some major toxins from my body. Grace in action.
Now on to my next experience: how I turned the 'pain in vain' into compassion for others who are suffering. First of all, you may be wondering what I mean by 'pain in vain'. Well, I noticed that while I was in the throws of yesterday's depression, I kept wondering why I had to suffer so. What's the point? It seemed like such a waste of energy. I am a believer in karma, and I understand that what I am experiencing--both physically and mentally--are a part of the fabric of karma and the experiencing of samskaras. (For a GLOSSARY OF TERMS, click on the Siddha Yoga link on the Sidebar to your right, and click on their Glossary link found at the bottom of their homepage.) I suppose what I didn't understand was what lesson I was supposed to get from this suffering.
Before retiring to bed, I walked over to my bookshelf and just stared at the books. I always pick up the right book that I'm supposed to read at any given time (haven't you experienced this too?). I picked up H.H. Dalai Lama's Healing Anger. I haven't read one of his books in awhile, but, as fate would have it, I opened right to the page that I needed to read. In this text, the Dalai Lama outlined the meditative practice of tong-len. My great spiritual teacher, Sally Kempton, had introduced this practice to me about a month ago, but it hadn't resonated with me until just last night.
Here's an example of how it worked for me:While in bed, I laid down in Savasana pose (Yoga's Corpse pose). I centered myself into the pose, and just became aware of my breath. I followed the breath in and out. Then, I began to repeat to myself a variation of the meditation the Dalai Lama proposed in his book: "May I, by experiencing this, save all other sentient beings from having to undergo this same pain." I did this over and over until I fell asleep. And I must say, I had a lovely sleep! This has a lot to do with the belief in Karma, but I suppose it would benefit anyone who tries it. Basically, what you're saying is: "May my suffering be enough so that others don't have to suffer. May I experience other's pain so they don't have to." In this way, you're offering the world your compassion. You're not trying to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders, you're trying to lighten the world a bit by offering your compassion to others who are suffering. You actually feel yourself turning others suffering into love. It's beautiful.
Right now I feel like I've been detailed, like a car! All of my carpets have been shampooed, my windows are clean, and the paint has been polished. It's a brand new day!
I guess I learned a wonderful lesson yesterday: Pain doesn't have to be in vain. It can become an opportunity to realize that you're not the only one suffering. It becomes the perfect time to offer compassion to the world.