Unhappy thoughts, unfulfilled desires, physical challenges, loss, disappointment, fear, stress - the endless upsets that punctuate every life.
Suffering can dominate us and become so overwhelming the only release we can imagine is to dull the pain in any way possible, or even consider leaving our life.
Why do we suffer like this?
Do we have to?
The answer is yes - but to nowhere near the extent that we usually do, believe or fear we will.
We all recognise that the mind creates the suffering to a large degree.
And this is the key - recognising this fact.
Once we can habitually recognise the thoughts that rush into our minds when we see the possibility of something bad happening, or we experience fear or pain, we create the possibility of being real about the actuality of the situation, rather than creating more suffering for ourselves.
When we do this, it usually happens that the first experiences of this are like brief moments of release, as if we step out of stream of thinking, into a place that is more authentic and realistic.
This 'place' is somehow one step removed from our thoughts and feelings. It has a quality of stillness that is behind our day-to-day life experience.
Once we have had a first taste of this, we want it again. We want to experience it more often and more deeply.
In the early stages of this 'awakening' our difficult thoughts, emotions and feelings continue to arise strongly and still take us over. When this happens, we find ourselves already immersed in them, but now we know there is a way out. In time, through repeated trips through the process of getting taken over and then waking out of suffering, we come to a point when we begin to automatically 'sense' our suffering as it comes over the horizon. Then, rather than being unknowingly captured by it, we learn how to prevent it from taking us over. We recognise what is there, become aware of it, allow it to be, but use that moment as a trigger to step back from it.
This action gradually becomes a habit - a conscious mental habit. We say to our self - ah, there it is - but I'm not getting into that - instead I'm going to retreat from it and watch it from the stillness of my inner self.
As we become more and more able to do this the sizzling energy of suffering from bad memories, regret, fear and pain begins to lose some of its hold on us.