We all have our ways. We all manage to live one way or another in spite of a tragic shadow that haunts us named fear. There is no shortage of fears, and I am proud to welcome a new one into my life to sit at my ever-growing Halloween table. After some digging, I learned about the fear of suffering.
However, just because I finally see this fear for what it is and what it can do to me, doesn’t mean it will take over.
“You are not the pain, you are not the suffering” he would say, as he helped me through one of my initial mindfulness exercises. The practice is called “Gapping”. It is the process of separating your spirit, the inherent you, from the body, the physical form, and the mental and psychological aches or troubles you might be suffering from. The practice is liberating but it also is heavily wakeful. You can never unsee what you come to find in the space between the outside world, the avatar of you and the real you. What I am writing may sound like gibberish to you, but that is ok. Allow me to tell you why.
It is ok because I have found a way. See, for me to have a series of practices that work, save me from feeling like a victim at certain points and to certain people. Once the victim is no longer there, the entire balance of things shifts from blame to insight. It is ok for me to have a process of anchoring on wonderful experiences and choosing to put on some rose-colored lenses when the world has gone incredibly dull. It is Ok because I need myself to be that way, and I need to be that way for the people around me.
I scroll through my Facebook, and all I can read is news about the ongoing terrors in Yemen, the toxic food we are eating in Lebanon, and the mindless acts of shaming and abuse that people go through. I see the suffering everywhere, and I know how easy it might be for my mind adopt it as its own. I leave the house to find that people close to my heart are suffering deeply for numerous reasons and at some point; you cannot but ask “What in the world is going on?”
But before I jump into the victimhood pond of dirty treacherous waters, and before I treat the world with the same contempt I think it’s treating me, I put on my rose-colored glasses; not out of naivete but because deep down I know that there are layers upon layers of blessings that we cannot see. I choose to first count my own blessings, then I start looking at the positive things happening in the world, I take a look at my cat and the wonderful world of happy lucky children, and I cannot but see.
Not everything we see is real, and not everything we believe is true. My rose-colored glasses are as real as my black ones if I really want them to be. There is wisdom and there are lessons to be learned, sometimes from the experiences of strangers. I have come to reason that this life, my life, your life are not singular experiences although our egos lead us to believe that they are. When I suffer, it does not mean that I deserve it, it is almost always never about me, and most of the times there are no real reasons whether good or bad. Sometimes things just ARE the way they ARE. So when I do my gapping exercise which I would love to pass on to anybody interested, it becomes easier for me to experience the inherent truth beneath all the “good” and the “bad” layers. I get to overcome my feelings and thoughts about the external situation and simply be free.
The choice becomes viable, either get free from all the exquisite mind traps or get sucked into the vacuum of it all and swept by guilt, regret, and blame.
It hurts my heart to know about all the suffering, and I do wish that it wasn’t so. But we are humans, after all, we do act on convictions that make us vulnerable at times, aggressive at other times and completely blind to the surrounding humanity and its essence. The real issue eternally will be, what will you do about it? How far can you extend yourself outside and inside of yourself to really be a force of good in a world that appears to be so bleak at times? How well can you make your friends and family feel? How beautiful can your presence be to those around you? It all comes down to a question of operating equally well in the dark and in the light. Beauty is still beauty whether it exists in a dark room or in a wonderfully sunlit one.
So despite that fact that we may at this point in time be living in a dark room, it should not stop us from being desperately and unflinchingly beautiful.