Suffering Is Optional

Lauren Forbes

The Dalai Lama said, “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”

Something I have been thinking about these days is suffering. I have suffered a lot in the past and I am sure I will in the future, but right now I am not. I attend a regular meeting for what I consider personal healing that is called Al-Anon. It is for those of us who have suffered due to relationships with alcoholics or addicts. My guess is that many of us have. If you haven’t heard of Al-Anon,  it is (in my opinion) so profound a tool/guide that it should be made part of the high school curriculum. One of the approved writings in Al-Anon says in part, “watching fellow human beings slowly kill themselves with alcohol is painful…” and it is. People like me want to fix it, make everything better—we can’t.

When I was called on to share at my meeting last week, I was struck by how many people are currently suffering. It brought me right back to that feeling and how hard it was, how debilitating. And then that feeling transformed into gratitude for where I am today. I know things can change on a dime and right now, I really don’t want them to.

While I relish the joy of the present, this contentment has in some ways caused me to get lax on my daily routines and habits, including my meditation practice that used to be a focal point of my day. Interesting how that happens. My brain thinks, “things are so good now, I can let down my guard…stop doing 'the work'”. Upon this realization, the next day I set up a beautiful new meditation zone in my bedroom (pictured above) to refocus and reboot. It calls to me every morning and I love it. And just like that I am back in 'the work'. Grateful to be aware.

Happy August

- Lauren


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