How to apply mindfulness in dealing with our suffering
Edited from a Dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh
Dealing with our suffering using the usual “fight”:
We try our best to get rid of it our suffering. Psychologists like the expression, “getting it out of your system.” which is venting the cause of suffering. Some psychologists say that when the energy of anger arises in you, you should ventilate it by hitting a pillow, kicking something, or by going into the forest to yell and shout.
People who use venting techniques like hitting a pillow or even shouting are actually rehearsing suffering because they are using some sort of fightback approach thru resistance non-acceptance and even attempt to suppress.
Zen calls this, dealing with aggression. This is a dangerous habit because not only the cause of suffering usually will persist but any attempt to suppress it is, by itself, a source of
1) Suffering and 2) Negative energy from consumption of it while fighting suffering and causes.
Dealing with our suffering using mindfulness-based acceptance:
Mindfulness-based insight is paying attention / observing our suffering w/o an analytic purpose. It has the power of liberating us from the self-inflicted trap.
Mindfulness does not fight suffering and its causes, it observes and accepts it.
It is used to recognize/being aware of it in the present moment and then to accept it as it is.
The approach is opposite to the previous one since there is no tentative of resistance or suppression.
Therefore the practice of mindfulness creates, by itself positive energy since no energy is used to fight but instead abound of unity becomes a source of positive energy
When it is cold in your room, you turn on the heater, and the heater begins to send out waves of hot air. The cold air doesn’t have to leave the room for the room to become warm. The cold air is embraced by the hot air and becomes warm—there’s no fighting at all between them.
Mindfulness works like this hot air.
In Zen, the practice of mindfulness meditation should be the practice of embracing and transforming what we dislike, what we resist to, what we refuse and not of fighting.
How to make good use of suffering:
To grow the tree of Awakening, we must, first, make good use of our suffering.
It does not mean to become masochistic since a masochistic one is searching pleasure from pain or the more pain the more pleasure, which has nothing to do with Zen practice.
Using suffering is like growing lotus flowers says Thich Nat Hanh.
We cannot grow a lotus (serenity) without mud (suffering)
Practitioners of mindfulness meditation do not reject their suffering and do not transform themselves into a battlefield, good fighting evil.
We should treat our afflictions with the acceptance and compassion of an observer rather than a victim.
Mindfulness recognizes, embraces then relieves us from suffering at least partially.
It helps us to look deeper beyond our ego-driven emotional reflex of fighting suffering.
Becoming a non-emotional observer of our suffering, you become the subject rather than the object of it. This is the Buddhist practice of taking care of suffering and its causes. Every time you give your internal pain a bath of warm positive energy of mindfulness, the knot of pain in you starts to loosing up. If you know how to generate this positive energy of mindfulness, it will act as a healing tool while facing suffering every time it pops up.
Mindfulness does the work of entangling our knots of suffering. You have to allow suffering and its causes to circulate freely and not be afraid of nor fighting again. If you learn not to fear your knots of suffering, you can learn how to accept them with the energy of mindfulness.
At this point, the emotional pain will evaporate. Thank you.