According to the Dalai Lama, the purpose of life is to seek happiness. Many people mistake pleasure for happiness.
Wearing my health educator cap, I say the first step to happiness is having an optimal state of health. That is more than ‘freedom from illness’. That would simply represent the ability to perform day-to-day biological functions without the help of another person or a pharmacopeia of medication. An optimal state of health creates in you the power to choose from many possibilities. It gives you a sense of hope and purpose that minimizes suffering. Assuming you have a reasonable state of physical health, suffering is the biggest hindrance to health and happiness. So let’s examine the concept of suffering.
Say I prick you with a pin. You reflexively respond by withdrawing your hand and saying Ouch. Did it really hurt? Probably not. Your body responds only to the physical sensation of the prick. But because of conditioning, your mind anticipates suffering—a negative emotional reaction—before the actual sensation of pain.
Close your eyes and imagine I am about to touch your cheek with a red hot poker. You feel the heat as I move it closer and closer. You know if I were to make contact you would feel the most excruciating, burning pain. Even with just this written description, your mind accepts and prepares for the pain. That is how mental expectation can cause you to suffer even though, in objective reality, there is no pain. Perception becomes reality.
It works the same way in reverse. Take for example some Indian Hindus who, during special religious rituals, go into a trance and walk over a bed of burning coals totally unscathed. They condition their minds to feel neither pain nor suffering. And it is not only a mind game. Their bare feet do not blister or burn.
Energy medicine suggests that emotional suffering brings on physical pain. Physical pain is a projection of one’s conscious awareness of discomfort. In other words, you are consciously aware of something (injury, illness, or even a social situation) that you ‘know’ is supposed to be painful; so pain becomes a psychic projection rather than a response to sensory input. The mental expectation of suffering intensifies the suffering. The challenge is to change how you respond to conscious awareness. Change the expectation of pain to the expectation of comfort. The energy shift is from vesting it in a physical feeling of comfort rather than physical pain. That makes hypnotherapy an effective tool for dealing with pain control. In effect, you can bring about anesthesia without chemicals.
Behavior is a function of beliefs ingrained in the subconscious over time. Fundamental beliefs fuel perceptions and behaviors that produce suffering. Yet, as the Dalai Lama has noted, “Pain is part of life, but suffering is a choice.” You can choose to reframe perceptions and beliefs in ways that reduce suffering. This reframing allows habitual responses to life’s challenges to be re-scripted, in turn changing behaviors.
Suffering can be described as feelings of hopelessness or rejection, even a sense of abandonment. It’s a feeling of being unworthy, unlovable and a failure. Suffering arises from feelings of guilt, anger, depression and despair. Suffering is tolerated because there seems to be no choice. Yet, it creates a feeling of silent desperation screaming inside your head. Suffering is: pain so intense it cannot be soothed, a fire so hot it cannot be doused, an itch so tingly it cannot be scratched. Suffering is that feeling of emptiness. You are so alone, even in a crowd. Suffering is no fun at all.
On the other hand, because suffering is an emotional response, you will know people who have pain and choose not to suffer, just as there are those who suffer intensely with no real pain. For many, the suffering without pain is the more difficult to endure. When you cannot tolerate the suffering anymore, you are ready to change; hypnotherapy can help.
Suffering is an emotional experience spawned from fear. Life is all energy. Energy can be manifested in either love or fear. All behaviors are therefore derived from either fear or love. Fear is
exhibited in the form of anger, anxiety and depression. Anger is a bubble of fear burst open.
The power to choose is everyone’s God-given gift. The power to choose is a mostly neglected and unused talent. Most people are blinded by fear to see the many options before them. They are so afraid to make choices that often they fail to make choices for themselves; they give over that power to others to choose for them. Who is better qualified to make choices for you than you? Are you afraid to take advantage of your own power? How sad that so many lack the courage to accept responsibility for making their own choices!