Dukkha, the first of the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, broadly refers to suffering, or an unsatisfactory/ painfulness of mundane or unmindful living. We have all felt this way at some point in our lives, some more strongly than others. Personally I feel this way when I am having an inauthentic interaction, stuck in thoughts of how things should be, or pushing an agenda based on personal desires. No matter how this manifests in each individual’s life, the attributes or signs remain constant. These include feelings of anxiety, distress, frustration, unease, and dissatisfaction. Any time you experience these identifying traits, remember they are telling you something; to do something different by making changes in your relationships or habits, pushing you back on the path to living happy and fulfilled.
Consider this.. You are hiking along, it’s bright and sunny outside, and you’re enjoying the scenery along your path. You continue hiking. As time passes you find yourself lost in thoughts; thinking about the past, the future, planning, reviewing, creating fictional
happenings or conversations. Then, you wake up! Becoming aware of where you are and realize you are no longer on your path. You might feel you’ve neglected your needs moment by moment (mindfully living with intention vs. unmindfully living). Waking up in the moment, you find yourself surrounded by bushes, vines, encapsulated by the shadowy darkness of big trees. You might think, “Whoa! How did I get here?” Or “Shit! What do I do now?”. These thoughts could also manifest as a physical sensation such as a pit in your stomach, a tightness in your chest. To emerge from, or recognize, thinking is the first step to living a more fulfilling, present life. Recognizing our unmindful thoughts as suffering, allowing them to be there, investigating with kindness, and finally, nourishing with what you actually need in the moment. This essential practice allows one to navigate back to the path. You’ll be basking in the sunlight of an open trail, on your way to living a fulfilled life.
When anxiety, distress, frustration, and dissatisfaction arise, use them as a signal, a glowing neon sign, pointing you to practice R.A.I.N.
Start with the R, recognize, and move through each of the letters sequentially. Take time and don’t rush. Each time you practice you are one step closer to getting to the roots of your suffering, leading to enjoying life more fully, more present.
R—Recognize what’s going on (thoughts, emotions, feelings)
A—Allowing: Breathing with what is (thoughts, emotions, feelings)
I—Investigating with kindness
N—Nourish with what you need in the moment
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