Yoga & Meditation

May I not suffer


When I thirst, may I not suffer
When I hunger, may I not suffer
When I itch (when she’s a bitch), may I not suffer
When I suffer, may I remember the breath
May my suffering be brief
When my suffering continues, may I remember the breath

When the mind wanders, may I not suffer
When there is pain, may I not suffer
When ill, may I not suffer
When I suffer, take care to observe and forgive the expressions or repressions

When relief comes, may I not suffer
When the pleasure is so brief, may I not suffer
When I long for more, may I not suffer
When the door closes, may I not suffer

When I suffer, remember the breath
Breath is the link between worlds
What does this mean? There is a world in reach, we all agree
Turn my attention to something within,
………..there is a world there
Turn my attention to the surface of the skin,
………..there are sensations
For these sensations, may I not suffer

And when I suffer, may it be brief

Consider that we all have an “I” within, and allow the words to wash over and through.

Italics – thoughts / internal dialogue / poetry
Square brackets – [action]
Quotes – “words spoken” or “referencing”

// – an aside

How do we suffer?
Much I have learned from sitting in Vipassana retreats and from the words of S.N. Goenka. He shared that suffering comes in two forms, both related to the sensations on the body:

  1. There is pleasant sensation. Oh great! How wonderful 🙂 easy breathing, expressions of “haaaahhhhhhh.”
    1.  Oh no, it’s gone! Oh please come back!
    2. Pleasant sensation returns. “Haaaaahhhhhhh..hmm….yaaa….” Please last longer.
    3. So these two things: wanting the pleasant sensation to come, or wanting it to last longer. These two things relate to craving.
  2. There is an unpleasant sensation. Ah f*ck
    1. Please go away, Leave me in peace.
    2. Time to express this and spread it everywhere! [Bang bang!] [Making loud noises.] Hey did you just touch me!? “Get out of my way!”
    3. So when these unpleasant sensations come we may react and become hostile in thoughts, speech, and/or actions.
    4. We may want the unpleasant sensation to stop and never come again, and so there is aversion.

Keep it Simple
There is craving and aversion, and these relate to suffering. We suffer by our reactions, our relationship to these sensations and to the world outside of our self.

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The two shores of bliss
“Ignorance is bliss” → a common expression; that’s one shore.
Example: there is an ant biting the heel of my foot, but my heel is so thick I have no idea. There’s no need to suffer for it, and so if bliss exists then it continues. A person is said to be ignorant because the person just doesn’t know.

Enlightenment is bliss → I suppose that is the other shore. I’m not sure that I’ve ever touched it, so I don’t actually know.

In between we can imagine a river. Awareness allows us to step from the shore of ignorance and begin swimming in the river.

How to stay alive in the river? A friend once shared “Whatever happens, just keep breathing”. I apply these words when it is unclear how to be in the moment, or if I begin to feel too much inside or there is too much extreme outside.

To me, this word is what links the two:

  1. When I thirst; and
  2. May I not suffer

In Vipassana we are taught one way how the breath can be our ally. We begin observing the breath. Close the mouth, and breath in through the nose, breath out through the nose. Does the breath pass through the left nostril? The right nostril? Both simultaneously?
“If it is the left nostril, then it is the left nostril. If it is the right nostril then it is the right nostril. If it is both then it is both. Just observe.” – Loosely quoted from Goenka’s words.
I thirst. So I thirst, this body is experiencing a craving for water, or something to quench the thirst. Maybe I am reacting to this. So I am reacting. If that is what is happening, then that is what is happening. If I am suffering because of this reaction, maybe I am judging myself for being reactive to a feeling of thirst, then I am suffering. So come out of the suffering. It’s like entering a room. Turn around, come back one step. Come back to the reaction, remember that I am experiencing thirst, that I’ve reacted, that I am now suffering, perhaps due to a judgement.

Thirst → Reaction → (Judgement) → Suffering
Suffering → Thirst

Jump back to the sensation. To this feeling of thirst. Observe it. In the present moment of observing, the reaction and whatever else happened becomes a part of the past. Like the left nostril, or right nostril, or both, this is what happened. It happened, it is passed, maybe it is still happening, whatever, come back to the sensation.

How is it for me?
People sometimes ask me if my mind still wanders in meditation. They see me sitting for one hour without changing my position, depending when they watch it may seem that I never move a muscle, and sometimes for one hour this is true actually. They may begin to wonder How come I can’t do that, or How can he do that?. Is it what he eats? Does he do yoga? Blah blah blah. ← → haha, actually that’s just me being reactive to the curious mind of others’… 😛

Whatever happens, I come back to the sensation. The mind wanders. That’s what it does. I’ve been practicing acceptance of this, and Goenka’s words have helped greatly here. Seeing that the mind wanders, and accepting that this is what the mind does, and smilingly returning to the sensation of the breath or sensation on the body.

The meditation can become more difficult when I begin thinking things like: The pain has been here a long time, I want it to go away. It gets easier when I begin thinking things like: The pain has been here a long time, I’m going to concentrate on it and see what else is happening around it and maybe even find the center point. The curious mind makes things easier.

Continuing equanimity
Being equanimous is having neither craving nor aversion.
Become aware, then be equanimous with what I have become aware of.
The solution is always to become equanimous. Even when I become aware that I have a craving for something else, or an aversion to what is happening, still become equanimous to that craving or aversion. That will allow me to approach being equanimous with what I originally became aware of.

See how the same solution can be applied to remove the reactions and aversions? It’s the [insert equanimous action] solution. A little more depth: the action isn’t [to remove the reactions and aversion or craving]. Seemingly, this action will not carry the desired result. The desired result is that the reactions and aversion or craving are removed. This is done by applying the equanimous action solution.

Acceptance and tolerance and curiosity are versions of this equanimous action.

What equanimous actions do you use? Please share among the ‘Comments’ below.

May all beings be happy
May all being continue being happy
May all beings dwell in the ‘continuum of happiness’

May I develop silence.



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