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The Art of Growing Pains


As I embarked on my most recent travel trip I set out with expectations. Not on the trip itself for that I'd left it completely open. Yes ok I had googled, Instagram'd, pintrest'd the s**t out of places to visit, things to do and see, I am a planner, a doer, I expect nothing less from myself in that aspect. But I set expectation on myself regarding my emotional state, my mental state that with in less then 48 hrs of stepping foot off the plane, I realised I had set myself up for total failure. These expectations were fuelled by the emotional turmoil I have put myself though the last 18 months. I have convinced myself that I could park all my problems in Thailand, leave them there and come back problem free. I know how silly that sounds now. I've been feeling stuck I am still consumed at the stage of grief. A terrible emotion to grieve the loss of something or someone. It seems to embed itself deep inside where we either cover it up and hope it goes away or it just generally seeps out when we least expect it. When you are more aware of how you feel, it can be just a relief to feel anything at all. Feeling numb has also been an emotion I haven't been able to shake. To fully experience any emotional pain is very painful, it is part of us as humans but we do resist it. Dukkha is a Buddhist concept translated as suffering - Resistance to pain, our reactive mind is in itself the source of our own suffering.


Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.


The Yoga Sutra by Patanjali outline this in a different way. The disturbances in our equilibrium from feelings of disquiet, unhappiness, heartbreak, upset, anger, anxiety, sadness or devastation is described as Duhkham. The cause are as follows:


First is Parinama or Change - you suffer when your circumstances change in a way that negatively affects you.


Second is Tapas/Tapah - Longing. You suffer when you want something you don't have.


Third is Samskara - Habit. You suffer when you knowingly or unknowingly repeat patterns or behaviours that don't serve you or cause you harm.


Fourth is a little more complicated, Gunas - The ever fluctuating balance of the energies in the body. An example, when you find yourself wide awake in the middle of the night and yawning at noon, we have all experienced that one right?


No one is immune to suffering but we can learn to suffer less. Suffering is created by wanting things to be as they were, changing a habit can soon turn in to longing to go back to the original pattern. As soon as we come to terms with how they are now and stop the war with reality we balance out and suffer less and less.


Once we learnt that we suffer because we are resisting pain we can let ourselves feel the pain fully, as painful as it can be, go though it to get to the other side. If not we will suffer and suffer for longer from our own resistance. I have been running away and that is to resist the pain. I have suffered so much because I have chosen to suffer to punish myself. Part of me believed I deserve this suffering.


Our lives are a manifestation of where we put our energy. This energy has no idea where to go. We have to invest our energy in to the area of our life which we want to grow. So if you put your energy in to something negative that will grow, if we put it in to something positive then that will grow. But how do we manage this energy? First we stop, then we consider and we accumulate. Take the accumulated energy and invest it in to what you want to bring in to your life, simple or so it seems.


All I had been doing was just causing more suffering for myself as I was putting all my energy in to that suffering. I distracted myself with suffering to stop the pain, to run away from my problems / situation and then hoped I could dump it all somewhere and dust off my hands on the way out.


Distraction a very normal human process. And oh we as humans are great at it. How much procrastination can we all accumulate on the energy spectrum? We actually achieve this without being conscious of it, distracting ourselves from situation, problems, jobs from anything if we really don't want it, we will resist it and use distraction to do this.


When you understand the mind and the mechanics of it, how it all works, you can then create what you want in your life. Monks have been using this philosophy for thousands of years. Your not the mind just pure awareness moving though the mind.


When change occurs in life, regardless if it was through choice or not we have to break a pattern. At a moment in time your mind is shaped a certain way. For change to occur and for the next version of events to happen you have to break the mould, heat it up and reshape it. Within this process is where the pain occurs, where you start to resist and say you don't want to, you want things to go back to the previous mould, but then you become comfortable in the new shape, the new pattern, the new mould.


So the pain I felt was me breaking the mould of a version of myself and my life. As I resist it I suffered, "this is painful, I don't want to do this", then it reshaped again, my mind got comfortable in the new mould. But for me to move on to the next version the mould had to be broken again and the pain returns, resistance and suffering follows. This is what growth feels and looks like.


To get to the best version of yourself this process happens many times and we can get stuck if it becomes to much. Growing is painful but if we resist, suffering is caused and growth will stop.


So Thailand did send me back as a different person, a different version of myself and the realisation that some of my pain is because I miss versions of my life that now no longer exist. Instead of leaving all my problems there I instead shredded part of me and grew in to a different version until its time to grow again.


Here is to more pain, less resistance, no suffering and an abundance of growth.


Here is to the new me, the new version of me, the me of today.


Miss Kate Sexton x

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