This last year our family went through a series of painful life events. Sometimes we don’t quite catch our breath before another occurrence shakes us to our core. Its amidst the storm of those challenges that we see ourselves for what we really are. We see our fears and vulnerabilities in a new way. We find our peace or we let our peace be taken, either way, we come out different. Our experiences as a family drew me to want to understand suffering and the way it changes us. No one is immune to pain. If we’ve lived more than a day on earth, we’ve experienced pain on some level in our lives. As mothers we spend most of our time healing the pain of our children, but healing our own pain is the first step in being able to love others deeper.
I recently heard an analogy about transforming our pain that was really meaningful to me. If we pour a cup of salt into a glass of water and we taste the water, it’s really salty (take my word for it, its gross). On the other hand if we pour a cup of salt into a river and we taste the water, it’s still sweet and drinkable. The salt in the analogy is our pain and the glass and river are our hearts. If our hearts aren’t large enough to hold the suffering we have, then they’ll be overtaken with the pain. If our hearts are large enough, then the suffering isn’t felt as much. The visualization of a fresh river moving and flowing creates a sense of freedom that the glass doesn’t offer. The glass symbolizes a self-centered, enclosed, uncaring practice of the heart while the river feels open, compassionate, and giving. When our view on ourselves and our world is narrow, our pain is greater. We feel more anxious, overwhelmed and the pain seems to take over us. When we open ourselves up to being present, feeling connected to others, and letting our pain circulate and heal, we have less pain in our life. When we feel pain about the past, are going through presently, or anxious about a future endeavor, we can think about our hearts as a river, full of compassion, gratitude, and the positive things that still exist in life. There is always something good in the present moment, even if it’s just that we can breathe. Meditating on the space of our hearts makes room for all the joy life wants to fill us with. There is always so much beauty for us to explore. We can choose to practice cultivating an open and connected heart that creates space for happiness. You have so much good in you. Don’t let the salt overpower all the beauty you have to offer.