"Mommy, You're Suffering"

A few weeks ago, after watching one of the Star Wars episodes with David (my 6yo), he asked me what "suffering" meant. (In the movie, Yoda tells young Anakin Skywalker that he sensed fear in him, and "fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering". Deep stuff that I'm still not completely sure I understand, but I do get the suffering part :)))

I rolled up my sleeves and gladly explained to my little yoda what my current understanding of suffering is (stemming mostly from buddhism teachings I think?): how we can have pain in our lives, but that doesn't mean we need to suffer. Most times, suffering is caused by our own mind's interpretation of what's happening, and wishing things were different than how they are.

We don't like pain - physical pain or emotional pain. So when we feel either, our minds get agitated and try to figure out how to stop it or control it... instead of just being with it.

David thanked me for my (much more in-depth than needed!) explanation and we moved on.

Cue the next morning - a typical hectic Monday getting out of the house a couple minutes later than I'd like. As we were waiting to turn off of our street & onto the main road, there was a lot of traffic and the car in front of me failed multiple times to take the opportunity to jump out and turn into it. So, I got frustrated/ said something like "ugh, this guy is driving me nuts, just go already!". To which my backseat yoda (a.k.a. David) responded "Mommy, you're suffering".

Well hot damn. If that didn't snap me out of my mental misery in a hot second...

Yes, I was making myself suffer. Yes we were running late, but instead of just being present/ letting it be what it is, my mind tries to exert control over everything around me in an attempt to ease my pain. In doing so, I'm just constantly wishing that things were different. I'm ruminating over what we could have done differently to get out of the house on time. I'm mad at the traffic. I'm mad at the guy who doesn't want to take a risk and jump out so I don't have to sit here and watch the seconds tick off the clock, as we get later, and later. No real pain, just more suffering.

David's comment helped me become conscious of how far away I'd gone into my mental story. And so I chose to come back to the present. I laughed at my 6yo's wisdom and apparent comprehension of this concept that I'm still learning. I breathed, looked at the sky, appreciated everything in that moment just as it was. And alas, my suffering was gone (even though we were still running late, and the guy ahead of me didn't move any faster :)).

Ever since, we've had fun calling each other out on our suffering (David catching me probably twice as often as me catching him :)). Any time we notice the other is really fighting the present moment - either b/c we're stuck in our minds worried about something that might happen in the future, or just fretting over how things are going down right now - we just say "you're suffering!" and that little prompt is usually enough to bring us out of our misery :)

It's kind of crazy when you notice just how much we create suffering in our everyday. Because it's so human, so normal, and also so unnecessary/ insane. Even if you are in actual pain, or in a really crappy situation, pausing for a few breaths to notice the story you're telling around it/ the resistance you have to it/ how much you want it to be different, can really make all the difference to how you move forward - either choosing to continue to suffer, or coming out of your mind and just being with the experience (& acting from that place of presence vs. suffering). These are 100% my #MindfulGoals 😌 - glad I have a 6yo to help me with them :)

(PS, I'm thinking I should create & market a dummy passenger/ "backseat yoda" that just says every 10mins or so, "Alert, alert. You are choosing to suffer. You are choosing to suffer!" 😄)

May you enjoy the rest of your day friends, and have some fun noticing your own suffering :)

Love, Shannon

Shannon Funt