Suffering, blame & responsibility

This morning this quote caught my attention, it was discussed on another blog that I follow and because I'm in the midst of meditating on this subject for my yoga practice and in my personal life, I decided to share my own thoughts about it.

“If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself, tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches; for to the creator there is no poverty and no poor indifferent place.”

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Blame yourself for your poor life. I don't think I would ever say that to someone... Although I know I said it to myself more than once. It seems rather harsh and uncompassionate to blame ourselves for the things that happen to us. It can't be true that suffering, physical or mental illness, trauma, disasters, or poverty are all our own fault. To just say: "Well, think positive and all will change", that's just not right, is it? To deny the existence of suffering by only focussing on and sprinkling light and love on everything is a way of spiritual bypassing and avoidance of the pain. And however I feel blessed in so many ways, and most of us are, nobody can escape suffering.

The truth is, we ARE the creators of our lives. Although we can't decide what happens to us, we can choose how to feel, what to think or how to (re)act. In every bit of suffering also lies a gem. Sometimes it's very very small. Seeing the smile of a child after losing everything. Feeling the warmth of the sun at a bedside window of a sick loved one. Remembering the one time we felt truly held. Noticing a flower grow on the ruins of a burnt down home. Helping someone in a troublesome situation.

Those are the things that make us truly happy, that enrich our lives.

This is often forgotten in our world and herein lies the greatest source of suffering. Because deep down we know that we are the directors of our lives. But somehow, we feel disempowered, small, weak, sick, fragile, victimized. And we know deep down we are not to blame for life happening to us as well. So we choose to seek the cause of the suffering outside of us and not changing perspective. This is where we give our power away.

Instead of 'blaming' ourselves for not changing our reactions to the suffering we experience, we turn our blame towards others and make them into the very source of our suffering. This is polarity and this leads to separation, disconnection, and conflict.

We shouldn't blame others for what life throws at us. However, we are permitted to set boundaries when we are treated badly or when the behavior of other people is hurtful or leaves us scarred, shattered or destroyed. Likewise, when we are the blamed and made guilty by people who are seeking a perpetrator for their drama or life events, boundary setting needs to happen. This is key to protecting your sovereignty and your personal power. You don't have to take everything in out of gratitude for the lessons that are learned. To protect yourself and out of self-love and self-care, you shouldn't be forcing yourself to look for the gem in a garbage bin. 

We don't have to blame ourselves for what happens to us like there is no sense in blaming others. Both lead to more suffering and separation. But we can blame ourselves for only looking at destruction, pain, negativity, difficulty and lose track of the things that really matter to us, which is very personal and can't be defined by conventions, myths or societal rules.

When caught up in drama, caged by rules, not free to change direction or perspective, hearts close. We lose love and connection, to self and others, and that loss is the greatest suffering of all.

To heal from this, it is necessary to change perspective, see the gifts and express gratitude for what you have in your life, and to set boundaries to protect your sovereignty.

That's how we can be the poet to call forth our lives' riches.

Screaming silence

Many positive things can be found about meditation and its effects, in fact so many that it seems to be the solution to everything. But for me, it wasn’t, not naturally, when I ran into a complete burnout. I wanted to meditate and tried many times but I couldn’t do it when I got stuck and it became an impossible task when I was in the depths of the abyss.
The months prior I felt that something needed to happen and I tried to calm myself with meditation attempts. What I didn’t know was that I was already so stressed out that being still in meditation caused the volcanic pressure to rise and overwhelm me. Yoga and relaxation exercises drove me crazy due to the anxiety and stress that came to the surface, causing the opposite to happen. I found myself in a chaotic mind, my thoughts sounded like 6 symphonic orchestras playing in dissonance, a cacophony of noise. I felt like a total failure ‘who couldn’t even meditate’ and I began to skip my weekly yoga classes to prevent myself from going down the vortex of chaos.

When I had to have emergency surgery, the carefully strutted house of cards came down. My body forced me to a stop and for a few weeks, I was only a shadow of myself.

Now, 3 months later, the physical signs of my completely disrupted stress-system are subsiding, and I was able to pick up simple daily activities. I now meditate daily, to tune into myself, feel my body, experience my emotions. This is of great value because I am able to connect to my feelings and act on them. To set boundaries, or allow things to happen, to rest or do something. So much is happening inside of me at this moment that I can’t even begin to describe it all. After 2,5 year in survival mode, it’s so freeing to be connected to my body, my intuition, my emotions. Some things are a recognition of something I once had and lost, other experiences are new and a beautiful discovery. What opened the door to improvement is meditation.

It is not easy for me to explain how my brain went into overdrive every time I put my body in a resting state. What is do know is that it is really important is to be gentle and soft. The system experience disruption, don’t make it worse by overwhelming yourself with something new or strenuous. When you start yoga or meditation or you come back to these practices after a long time or in a state of confusion or overstimulation, be nice to yourself. Don’t practice for too long, 15-20 minutes at most. When you bring awareness to your body it will begin to tell you what is wrong, sometimes it’s traumatic to feel all those things all of a sudden. Remember to be gentle and loving towards yourself and to ease down your practice. Start with 5 minutes of meditation when 15 is too much. Don’t go to a full yoga class but practice just one or two poses for 10 minutes and go from there.

Meditation, yoga and other spiritual practices are possible and provide healing, although sometimes you have to go through the chaos first.