Embracing Your Life – ALL of It!

We have all had those moments when we wish something different happened — small little annoyances, and major tragedies alike. The latter are profound and often beyond the pain that words can describe. The former–bad breaks, missed opportunities, people in our way and problems of all sorts–are numerous, often trivial, by comparison, but bother us too. During the course of time, our lives are shaped not only by the events and circumstances themselves, but perhaps more so by our response to them.

Particularly in the wake of tragedies, such as unexpected accidents and illness, it is hard to imagine that we have choices. Grief, as an example, is a natural and completely understood response to the loss of someone we love. But, there is more to it, and since our lives continue after the moment, much of how we do will depend on how we manage our way through the pain.

In another context, you have heard me speak of the “inflammatory response” and how that interferes with the physical healing that we seek when we are ill, for example. In this context, when one is additionally angered and frustrated with their condition, the physical phenomenon of unwanted organisms, broken bones and invading tumors is aggravated by the cascade of endogenously generated inflammatory chemicals that respond to such emotion. In other words, we activate the fight-or-flight response, aka the sympathetic nervous system, when we go to war with our condition — which is why I advocate something other — finding peace with it.

In all ways, then, when we find peace with simple hardship, or profound challenges, we avoid this caveat. And though this doesn’t completely mitigate all the pain that might follow, it certainly does contribute to a better outcome; and not just on the physical level, but emotionally and spiritually as well — the totality of our being depends on it. One day, perhaps, when we do get the chance to look back, we see that the lessons our soul needs to learn waits in this balance–the growth that either does or does not follow.

I know this first hand. Thirty-seven years ago, this month, I experienced the inexplicable and tragic loss of two dear friends. I was young, and not fully prepared to deal with the grief, and feelings of responsibility. It took decades of time for me to even look at it all. I did the natural thing which was to build walls around it. Slowly, and eventfully, I was guided by grace to peer inside, and see all that was there: the love and the loss, of course, but, the beauty that was born out of the fire–my three amazing children, Malcolm, Benjamin and Caroline, my wife, Robin, and my newfound appreciation for life.

It may be hard to embrace some things for sure. But, the alternative–to fight against something that already is–is to add energy to it; ultimately empowering the force of its negativity in our lives as well.

They say that time heals all wounds. Maybe. From my own experience, wounds heal only when we give them space; space and time, long enough to come around to be able to see, accept and honor the relationship of love with pain. To understand and appreciate the reason why they hurt so much has a lot to do with the fact that we loved as much as we did in the first place. And who would prefer, in their attempt to avoid such pain, to avoid love? So, embracing your life, all of it, offers the relief and the ability to actualize the growth potential that results from profound pain. Of course, you need to do that in your own time. But be certain, the path is through the obstacle.

Mitakuye Oyasin,
Michael

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