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  • Atsuko

Embrace your Pain and Sorrow

(Thought from the recent meditation retreat)

On the first day of the retreat, my mind was surprisingly cooporative. I managed to watch my breaths mostly. Then after the second or third sitting of the day, I started feel sad.

There is big sadness in my life, as in many people’s lives. But I learned to manage it. I can cope. I keep up my work and keep the family together. Everyday life is going as smoothly as it can.

While I was sitting there, I started feel the sadness intensely, and realised how much suffering I had taken in my heart. How much I was suppressing and hiding from myself. The sadness didn’t lead to any other thoughts. I just felt the sorrow deeply and that was all. I tried not to think about it and kept the focus on the breath.

I struggle with the feeling for the rest of the day.

Next day, the programme was the same, many sessions of meditation and walking meditation. I just sat and watched my breath as the previous day. It was peaceful. Nothing amazing, but it felt as if there is a comfortable space in my heart. I was just calmly watching my breath without struggle.

Then I realised, I wasn’t thinking about my sadness any more. I could think about if I wanted. It was still sad but the intensity was gone.

It has been over a month since I came back from the retreat, and it is still the same. The issue is still there but the raw emotion is gone. I can just be sad without the drama.

Yesterday jut by chance I stumbled upon Thich Nhat Hanh’s video titled ‘Embracing Your Pain and Sorrow’. It was a wonderful encounter because it perfectly describes what happened at the retreat.

He gives an example of pebbles on a boat. Pebbles sink to the bottom of the river if you put them in the water, but if you put them in a boat, the boat floats and can carry the pebbles.

He said our hearts are like the boats. We may have pains and sufferings in our lives but with mindful awareness we can learn to be OK with the feelings. We can still be happy while carrying the suffering inside.

I have been meditating for over 25 years on and off, and even teach in my yoga classes, but I have to say this is the first time I actually experienced the effect of meditation on my emotional life. I vowed to myself that I will be more ardent meditation student.

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