Today I discuss four powerful ways that will help you deal with stress and suffering more efficiently. Often we are mentally unprepared when stress hits us right in the face. It makes sense to know what to do and practice it on a small scale before bigger problem surface. That way we can gradually build our resilience and our ability to deal with adverse situations in more constructive ways.
Now that’s what we are usually already quite good at – at least some of us. We are mostly doing OK(ish) at anticipating, avoiding and solving situations that are potentially tense and unpleasant. When we have a headache, we might take a painkiller. We shift our posture when it is uncomfortable and run for distractions when boredom invades our mind.
Now there are some situations where it is wise to “run” or practice avoidance. It is wise to avoid bad company and it is clever to take medicine when you are ill. At times it is also very advisable to seek out entertainment and distraction when we are in emotional turmoil. That’s all a good tactic that helps us deal with suffering. However, the downside with this approach is the fact that it doesn’t really end stress – it simply shifts it around or temporarily “puts it to sleep”.
That is a slightly more difficult approach as it requires a mindset that aims for a solution more than for avoidance. When you decide to actually deal with a harmful situation and turn it into an advantageous one you are practicing the second approach. The peacock is a great example here. It ingests highly poisonous plants such as the Himalayan Wolfsbane or venomous snakes. Tibetan and Indian folklore sometimes states that the venom makes the peacock’s feathers shine more brightly. Thus they use this bird as an example for turning adverse situations into empowering ones.
Whenever problems make us more patient, forgiving or kind we are practicing at this level. Sitting down and finding a solution is often more difficult and requires more resilience. That’s why many feel like the problems stick around with them. When our mind is well-trained in the ability to find fault in situations it often becomes paralyzed and can’t find a way out. Changing our perspective, seeking understanding and forgiveness, listening and cultivating kindness are the skills we need to hone when working at this stage.
Sometimes there’s just nothing you can do. Even after trying for hours, days or months it’s impossible to avoid or change the issues. The universe has its ways to show us that ultimately we are not in control of things and we can’t have it all. We might get very ill, or have an accident or have to helplessly watch how friends or family members keep harming themselves and others. All these situations might leave you feel vulnerable and helpless and the only thing left to do is tend to your own pain and wait for it to pass.
It’s like life has pushed you up to a wall and you can’t move in any direction. Let the ancient wisdom of “this too shall pass” guide you within and guard your light in the middle of this storm. It’s through these heavy fires that you can forge your true powers such as endurance and forgiveness to perfection. Hardship and pain have created some of the most inspiring and interesting stories ever. Often it’s exactly these stories that help Millions to find and guard their light through the dark times. Always remember that your shadow can show the way towards your light, and your time will come!
At the base of all techniques is the great mother of wisdom. Transcend stress by knowing it clearly, seeing it’s origin and letting it go completely. The heart of all methods points to your greatest power. Most people are far from their greatest strength because they don’t really know themselves deeply. To cultivate the last way of dealing with stress we have to turn to the light of awareness itself.
Clearly knowing things as they actually are is liberating. As the old saying goes: “Truth shall set you free”. This saying points toward our ability to become self-aware. It also shows us that once we are self aware we are free. Free from what? Free from all conditions such as birth, death, body, mind, time and suffering. This practice goes beyond the intellect. It can be done and as a result your eyes will open. But you cannot “understand it intellectually”.
This insight happens gradually as a result of desire (you don’t get there if you don’t want to get there) and proper guidance from someone who has experienced this truth. There’s not much I can say about this step as it is a matter of practice more so than a matter of words.
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