I was reminded today that even if everything on the surface seems calm, if you are able to carry on with life, with just a little bit of pressure on the sweet spot, tears will overflow and a small cry can escape.
It happened twice to me today.
Once at the physio for my follow up appointment, where I turned up smug and happy that I was free to move again and free of crippling pain. Until he applied that little amount of pressure and I realised that while there had been positive progress, there was nowhere to hide and no where to run from this and the little cry escaped.
And again, this morning. I still suffer from the PTSD and aftershocks caused by just any small trigger – a name, a word, an event, an act. Those little pin points of pressure find any sign of anger or grief just below the surface and again, there is nowhere to run and nowhere to hide and a small tear appears and a little cry escapes.
In both cases, I have learnt to shut my eyes and breathe through the waves of emotional pain. And to talk. Talk as a distraction from physical pain and talk as a way through the emotional pain.
As I baked a cake for what I thought was the bake sale tomorrow at school (a diary mis-entry now means we have cake at home much to everyone’s delight), I listened to an interview with Thich Nhat Hanh. Just his voice is soothing and brought me out of the hangover of a PTSD episode this morning.
And his words were beautiful. ‘Happiness and suffering, they go together like good and evil, left and right….mud and the lotus flower.” You cannot have one with out the other.
He goes on to explain that you cannot grow a lotus out of marble, only from mud. That suffering is needed to grow in understanding and in love and therefore bring about happiness.
Maybe these pin pricks are meant to be the beautiful ‘sweet spots’ of suffering to remind me of how much I am growing in understanding and in love. Understanding and love of myself and therefore, the same of others.
‘Thich’ also spoke of beautiful mantras that he uses and I will do well to remember those and use them either in my head to form the right words to show love and to be compassionate to another, or to say out loud when I am in pain and longing for empathy:
Show someone you are present in their life by saying, “Darling, I am here for you.”
In response, to recognise their presence is important to you, you would reply, “Darling, I know you are there and that makes me happy.”
In times of despair, sadness or suffering, you can empathise and show compassion by saying the words, “Darling, I know you are suffering and I am here to help you.” And here he talks of ‘deep listening’, a way not to advise, but to be present and hear what they have to say, so they can share their pain as a way of alleviating their suffering.
And in the case where you believe someone you love did something to hurt you, he advises that rather than seek revenge or to hurt in retaliation, be brave and strong enough to use the words, “Darling, I suffer. I am trying my best to practice. Please help me.”
I am so fortunate, that while I am brave enough to speak up and ask for support, I get the response, ‘Darling, I know you are suffering and I am here to help you.”
I am also fortunate, that the same is true in reverse. I strongly believe that even without having read this until now, we are where we are by doing this intuitively. And out of the suffering is rising happiness, out of the mud, the lotus will bloom.
I wrote this earlier today and this evening I am watching the breaking news of the terrorist attack in London. May the mantras above be spoken all over London to help those suffering loss, grief, shock, pain and devastation. And may we all be strong and brave enough to say the words of peace to the terrorists, to respond with compassion and understand why they have acted so violently and in anger.