Should We Avoid All Suffering?

Hand and feather

I don’t know about you but the start of work in September hit me like a truck. It went from pandemic – literally no work, to a very mild pandemic schedule, to the summer holiday, to pretty much business as usual. I feel like I’ve only just been able to find my feet juggling a full-time job with my passion for yoga and helping musicians.

My Little Meltdown

The other day I was having a bit of a meltdown about this with my coach. I’m too busy, etc., etc. She was very understanding but, once I finished with my rant, she pointed out that challenges are actually needed for one’s happiness. Moreover, we’re capable of more than we realise AND sometimes we exaggerate the nature of the struggles we go through in our own minds.

Well, suffice to say this was exactly what I needed to hear

Sukha vs Dukha

In the system of yoga, this relates to the concept of sukha and dukha. Sukha meaning “happiness/relaxation/comfort”, on the other hand, dukha stands for “suffering”. So which one do we choose? Waving my Czech flag here a bit but bear with me as I share this excerpt from the Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera:

But is heaviness really terrible and lightness beautiful?

The heaviest burden crushes us, we sink underneath it, it presses us against the ground. But in the love poetry of all ages, doesn’t a woman want to be crushed with a burden of a man‘s body. The heaviest burden is therefore at the same time the image of the most intense fulfillment of one’s life. The heavier the burden, the closer our life is to the earth, the more true and real It is.

On the other hand, the total absence of a burden causes one to become lighter than air, to fly high away from the earth and earthly living, they become half-real and their movements are as free as they are insignificant.

What should we then choose? Heaviness or lightness?”

What’s The Answer Then?

The answer is, both. We choose both. Why? Because a total absence of struggle would make you just as unhappy as too much of it. Challenges are part of the human experience, they make you grow and become stronger. At least that’s the mantra I try to remind myself of when the going gets tough: “Challenges are good for me”.

A Little Story

And, just to drive it home, here’s another little story for gaining perspective. The other day I spent close to 2 hours on customer helplines being ping-ponged from place to place in order to get my passport so that I could go on tour with the orchestra. I was getting pretty desperate when one of the answering machines sounded:” If you’re from Afghanistan and trying to get refugee status…” Well, I thought, I think I’ll be ok after all.


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