What frees us from static suffering? 6 steps toward change – July 2015

What frees us from static suffering? 6 steps toward change – July 2015

What frees us from static suffering? 6 steps toward change

 July 13, 2015

Sarah Peyton

I spent the first 43 years of my life thinking that I just needed to find a way to live in peace with my daily suffering. Then I was surprised by empathy. Pain that I thought was never-ending started to shift. And all kinds of things began to change, including learning to support healing in others, so that they, too, started to come with me into the present moment, into peace without suffering.  Lately there have even been almost unbelievable moments suffused with deeply satisfying and quiet joy that come from just being present, without thought of past or future.

It is hard to find the words to describe the movement from an unchanging and painful struggle to the more fluid experience of a world that has a little empathy and resonance in it.

But over the last 10 years of this journey, the steps along it have become more and more clear: change and healing happen:

  • Neuron by neuron

  • When we see our brains with compassion

  • When we listen to the voice of our body

  • When we let ourselves be loved by humans

  • When we receive and give empathy

  • When we practice guided mediations

  1.  Sometimes change happens all at once in the brain. Moments of insight are examples of this. Mostly, however, change happens gradually, neural connection by neural connection. Every time we have a new idea, we are creating new connections between our neurons. For example, whenever we bring up the idea of warmth at the same time that we are in our sense of self, we are inviting new neural links.

  2. As we start to see our brains with compassion, we make room for ourselves to exist. Something very interesting happens when we start to look at our brains as “just brains.” As we see the similarities between our brains and the brains of other animals, we begin to notice the previously invisible structures that have innate relationships with one another, and we start to appreciate the “beautiful constraints” that we live within.  Human beings are a marvel of infinite essence, suspended on the webbing of our neural connections.

  3. Listening to the voice of our body, we leave our static conceptions of self behind, and we move into fluidity. We gain access to our direct experience of life, and to how the world really affects us.

  4. When we have a sense that we can count on people to be solid and loving, we can import them into our brains, and their care for us is integrated into the web of connections between PFC and amygdala. This can be tricky, though, if the human race has been a source of pain and distrust.  When this has happened, we may automatically reject people’s warmth for us as untrustworthy. Contrary to a lifetime of expectations, it may actually be true that people like us, are inspired by us, relax when they are around us, and appreciate our gifts. And at the same time, people are flawed: they get irritated with us, they suddenly disappear when we wish they were there, they say they’ll do something and they forget or get overwhelmed and can’t show up the way they wish they could.  Then it is possible to write them and their warmth and love off entirely, and not bring them inside us to become part of our team. This is why it is important to let ourselves be loved by human beings.

  5. Whenever we listen more deeply to others, or we are ourselves listened to deeply, so that whatever is arising from within us is actually heard, rather than working with the face value of content, we move toward fluidity. (i.e., “I hate Angelina” is the content.  A mother might say, “Don’t say hate, honey,” missing the deeper meaning, which might be, “There is a group of girls saying things to me that hurt, and one of them used to be my best friend.” ) This might be important information to have about what’s happening in the life of a child.   It also allows what is really meant to be known and shared, so that movement can happen.

  6. As guided meditations invite our attention to enliven different parts of our brain simultaneously, new and healthy neural connections are formed between these previously disconnected areas. Additionally, mindfulness meditation creates brain integration, improved bodily functioning, and ease, especially when it is infused with warmth.

The journey toward a life that has meaning, freely moving and balanced emotion, richness, and small bubbles of joy is right here. Reading this newsletter invites your brain into this space. Working with empathy buddies changes the brain. It is also enriching to do this work in community, which makes it even more important to get involved with the workshops and programs to take advantage of the delight of watching yourself heal.

No Comments

Post a Reply