The Skills Necessary to Deal with Anguish
Apr 26, 2023-- I think many of us have a skewed idea of what "accepting" a catastrophic situation actually is. If you have the idea that coping well should look something like the proverbial "grace under fire," then you think you should summon the sheer grit to plaster a big cosmic grin on your face, no matter what horrors are being visited upon you. I don't think this is helpful. Actually, just the notion of "accepting" pain sounds to me too passive to accurately describe the process of successfully dealing with chronic pain or mental anguish that lasts for a long period of time. Because it fails to convey the tremendous amount of energy and courage it takes to accept physical pain as part of your life. Truly accepting pain is not at all like passive resignation. Rather, it is active engagement with life in its most intimate sense. It is meeting, dancing with, raging at, turning toward. To accept your pain on this level you must cultivate particular skills. Then after you have developed some proficiency in these skills, dealing with pain feels much more like an embrace, or the bond that forms between sparring partners, than resignation. Resignation is too passive." Darlene Cohen was a Zen priest in the lineage of Suzuki Roshi. Her life's work included helping people work with pain, a subject she was intimately familiar with as someone living with rheumatoid arthritis. More in this valuable piece (2522 reads)
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