Finding Joy in the Midst of Pain
By Elgin Quan
Vulnerability, a Divine Condition.
In our current age of fear, ambiguity and despair, a facade of grief lingers on the surface of everyone’s faces. If roses thrive on thorns, can joy and grief be two sides of the same coin?
What if authentic joy can be found? What if we believe like Freud says: that in spite of pain “grief is a miraculous gift which is given to help heal that pain.” What if what the Chinese word for “crisis”: Weiji, 危机 whose characters mean on the one hand, “danger”, 危 and on the other hand, “opportunity” 机, holds the mystery to authentic joy?
If everyone grieves, everyone suffers pain, should we not make effort to learn how to receive pain well and be open to learn lessons from its ubiquitous partner, grief?
** The Physical Factor: Breathing**
A clear mind is a like a deep well. Drink deeply to live fully.
Countdown to calm down.
To remove mental fog and emotional toxicity, learn to breathe. Correct breathing involves counting, taking deep coordinated breathes.
It can be as simple as putting into practice the 4-7-8 breathing technique:
• breathe in through the nose for a count of four
• hold the breath for a count of seven
• part the lips and exhale loudly for a count of eight
Steps for 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise:
• Sit with your back straight throughout the exercise.
• Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth. Keep it there throughout the entire exercise.
Exhale through your mouth around your tongue; pursing your lips slightly.
• Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
• Hold your breath for a count of seven.
• Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whooshing sound to count of eight.
This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for total of four breaths. The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time. Exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation. The time you spend on each phase is not important; the ratio of 4:7:8 is important.
Purchase a home pulse oximeter. Use it to help check your blood oxygen levels. According to the NHS, the optimum level of oxygen in your blood is between 95%- 100%.
**The Emotional Factor: Feelings
As part of the human race, there are distinguishable stages of feeling that should be managed and processed well. These emotional stages should not be by passed with trite or easy answers. Emotions should be allowed to run their course or be directed to find someplace or with someone with whom to share. Woven into Hebrew Scriptures, we find Job moving through In Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ well-known stages of grief and dying: denial, anger, bargaining, resignation and acceptance. The first seven days of Job’s time on the “dung heap” of pain are spent in silence: the immediate response of denial. They he moves to the second stage, anger. “This so- called life I have is not really life. It is death? So why should I be happy?” Job has lost his health, family, possessions. Devastated by his losses, some of us may have been there, we can echo Job’s cry about the day he was born: “May that day be darkness. May murk and deep shadow claim it for their own. Make it not a day of light but darkness.” (Job 3:4-5).
There’s a part of each of us that feels and speaks that sadness. Not every day thank goodness. But if we are willing to feel and participate in the pain of the world, part of us will suffer that kind of despair.
Like Job, we must go through the stages of feeling, not only to the last death, but all the earlier little (not so little) deaths. If we bypass these emotional stages, surrender to easy answers, all they do is take a deeper form of disguise and come out in another way. - depression, irritability, addictions, misdirected anger. By allowing your emotions to run their course, in allowing yourself to move from stage to stage, your experience of grief can restore and can become both whole and holy.
* “Grief is a natural process that should not be tampered with”*
Considered a foremost expert on grief and loss, David Kessler, introduced a sixth stage of grief: meaning. In his book, **Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief ** he describes his own personal experience with tragedy. Kessler believed that finding meaning beyond the five stages of grief can transform grief into a more peaceful and hopeful experience. It can be the antidote to the secrets of living a fulfilled life, even after life’s tragedies. www.grief.com. Like Job’s experience, grief can overwhelm. It can feel like a wilderness. But Job found meaning after horrendous loss. Kessler notes it is in this wilderness we find the keys for healing, discovering and knowing our own stages and spaces of grief.
You don’t have to experience grief, but you can only avoid it by avoiding love.
Love and grief are inextricably intertwined.
The Spiritual Factor: Transcendence
What is authentic joy? What is that kind of joy that can take us through our pain, not under it, not over it.
*Art (of Joy) enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.
The entire human race is called to embrace the whole cycle of life - birth, passion death, afterlife. Healing power of joy lies in the midst of pain. Just as there is pain in the labor of birthing, pain in the labor of dying, pain in the labors of hard demanding work, authentic joy awaits those who seek it.
Choosing to let joy in is a radical act. It is not wrong to desire it. What is wrong is to seek it outside when it is inside. It means to look a little closer to find out what is truly inside our heart. It means your journey will transcend the ordinary, what the mortal eye cannot see. Finding joy gives us energy to go through the crisis however long it may take. Authentic joy that leads to inner peace and a transformed heart can be found by those who truly seek life and living.
Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that
everything in this life has a purpose.
We live in tragic times. But it does not have to be this way. There is a better way.
Look for peace. Look for joy. Look for love. Peace Joy Love -- three whole foods that combine to form a balanced wholesome diet. One cannot exist without the other. Peace gives over to joy. Joy enables love. Love returns to peace. Members of this trio work together to restore and return us to everything good and beautiful, the mysteries of life.
Your soul will arise
Like Job, when you uncover the mysteries of life and living, your soul will arise. You will know your life has purpose and your pain has meaning.
Approached in this way, finding joy in the midst of pain, by the spirit of **Weiji, 危机 , ** greater opportunities will arise, if you allow it.
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