My fourth article in the Estonian Sensa magazine. It was published in December 2013.
Here we go again! What am I going to share with you today? The previous articles have been about happiness, so I was thinking that maybe I would write about something else today. But when I started writing this article, I soon realized that there are still topics around happiness that I could get into, topics that I have shared with people in my workshops and lectures, topics that may be useful for many. I do have plans of write about health, diet and active lifestyle, but today it's about pleasure and pain, and how they are related to happiness. Yes, that's me. I always have to talk about pain and suffering, when I talk about happiness. :)
If you read my previous articles you know that I don't think happiness is "out there". It's within us and we can find it when we learn to let go of control and learn to listen to our inner wisdom. This we usually don't do. We tend to look out to the world of form, for pleasures to give us a feeling of satisfaction. I can hear you think: "pleasures are not bad!". I agree. Everything is good, as long as you can enjoy (healthy) pleasures without becoming attached to them. If you have difficulties letting go of something, then you are attached to it. Attachment will lead to fear. Fear takes away freedom, and life without freedom is an unhappy one. (From my previous articles)
The confusion is that we subconsciously think that the pleasures of life equals happiness. This causes a problem because those pleasures also contain the other side of the coin, pain. The pain of not having enough, the pain of having too much, the pain of loosing it, etc. The pleasure and pain connection is one example of how this dualistic world is built around these opposites. We try to avoid pain and experience pleasure which is very understandable, but this approach will not lead to happiness. Like you know from my previous articles, we can't control this process, this movement of the opposites. We can observe it and let go of the control, and find a natural flow where life is not a struggle but we can't force pain to not happen. If you resist it, it will persist. If you focus your energy into pleasures you will also add pain into your experience.
Is pain bad? No. It's not better nor worse from pleasure. It's an experience that we can't escape from. However "perfect" our life would be, pain is certainly going to be part of it. No people, I'm not depressed or experiencing anxiety. I just see the "negative" aspects of human life, like pain and death, just as any other experiences in our existence. They just come and go. Like death has the power to give us the experience of life, so does pain give us the experience of its opposite, pleasure. This roller coaster of opposites is what gives us the experience of being a human being. The key is to not get stuck in any of the opposites but just to let them come and go without resistance. If it's already here, no use of resisting it. Accept it. Embrace it. And be grateful that you have the possibility to be here and experience it all.
In the previous articles, I wrote about happiness in a more philosophical way, about the level beyond the ego. Now I'd like to talk more about this dualistic world and how to make it a little more manageable.
Resistance and acceptance
Pain is inevitable. Suffering is a choice. You are going to experience pain, even if you are not seeking for pleasures. It's part of this roller coaster ride. You will hit your elbow to the corner of the tabletop, sprain your ankle, break your iPhone glass, loose a loved one. Pain can be physical and emotional and it can give birth to many different emotions like anger and sadness. All of these emotions are part of the ride and when you accept them fully you will avoid suffering, which is just the outcome of resisting that which is. When you can't accept that which is, the result is suffering. Now it's very important that you understand that I'm not talking about avoiding negative emotions, I'm not talking about positive thinking. I'm talking about fully accepting all emotions and not trying to escape from them. Resisting negative emotions, which seems to be the goal with many spiritually inclined people, is with 100% certainty going to bring suffering to your life. Pushing emotions down to the subconscious will lead to physical and emotional imbalance and if it's not taken care of, the result is disease and more suffering. This is not very complicated. This is common sense. Resisting that which already is, is as foolish as trying to convince yourself that you are not going to die. If you are reading this article, in this magazine, I'm assuming you are not a child anymore. If you are interested of spiritual matters, I'm assuming you are at least approaching adulthood. So let's get real. If you are angry, you are already angry. Thinking about unconditional love and other "more appropriate" thoughts is not going to change the reality. Accept that you are angry, accept everything that you are experiencing, keep the mental noise low and allow the emotion to go through you. That is the only way you can release it. Am I saying that it's ok to feel raged over something? Of course it is. If it's already here, you have no other choice. Denial is NEVER the right approach. Criticizing yourself for having "bad" thoughts and emotions is even worse.
Become still and embrace it all
The mind generates thoughts. Positive and negative ones. The body experiences emotions. They are two separate things but they are also very connected. The mind thinks and the body feels. When I say "keep the mental noise low and allow the emotion to through you", I mean stop poring gas to the fire. We tend to get stuck in certain emotions, not having the power to get rid of them. It's because we haven't really even gotten into them. We use thoughts as gasoline to fuel the emotional fire, but we don't feel the emotion. The emotional fire feeds back to our mind that will generate more thoughts that resonate with the emotion we are having (but not really properly experiencing). The vicious cycle has been created and it seems impossible to break free from. Fear based thoughts feed the emotion of fear, which again fuels the mind to generate more thoughts of fear.
How to break from the cycle? Feel the emotion, fully! Don't avoid it mentally, don't feed it with mental noise, just simply feel it. Let go of any resistance or any mental process, like analyzing it, and just feel it. Allow the energy of the emotion to flow through you and let it go. An emotion doesn't last very long. It comes and it goes... if we let it. If you feel that you are stuck in a certain emotion, it's because you are feeding it with mental fuel. Feel the emotion, don't think about it.
Yoga and the subconscious
When you practice yoga, the goal is not to not feel these "bad" emotions anymore. The goal is to become more aware. More aware of everything, like what type of emotional issues you are actually hiding in your subconscious. Yoga and spirituality is not just about feeling good, it's about getting real. When you shine the light of your consciousness to the darkness of your subconscious, you see what's there. When you truly see it, you also realize that it has no real power. It's not real. It feels real but when you look at it from another perspective, you know it's an illusion created by your mind, your ego.
Pleasures will not give you happiness, however much you experience them. Find happiness (which I often call freedom) within and you are free to experience pleasure and pain without unnecessary suffering.
Tweet me to say hi or to ask any questions: @jockesalokorpi.
Free from suffering,