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Suffering Can Be Our Greatest Teacher

by Swami Sitaramananda

Yoga is a scientific method to alleviate suffering and help people find the Truth and Essence in the teachings of all religions.

Understanding Emotions

Emotions are a major cause of human suffering and are the root causes of many kinds of diseases. Emotions come from deep samskaras (imprints in the mind). The mind carries these emotional grooves and habits.  Some examples are:

  • Deep experiences of attachments and losses, and as a result we experience the consequent emotions of grief, fear and sadness.
  • Habits of desires lead to the consequent emotion of anger when the desires go unfulfilled.
  • Memory of the insecurities of the past and our built-in survival instincts bring about anxieties, competition, greed, and jealousy
  • Repeated mistake between love and lust brings in emotional confusion and fear rather than trust and causes swinging patterns between hatred and love.

These experiences are written in our subconscious mind and they repeat themselves, becoming imprints. These imprints project themselves out, making the mind restless.

The emotional scars and traumas cannot be resolved through talking them out or replaying them in the mind.

We need to go deeper than what they are and change the paradigm, no longer basing ourselves on our ego/self but switching to the Atman/Self — our pure core consciousness that has no scar or imprint and is completely free. 

Suffering can be a stepping stone to spiritual breakthrough.

Yoga practice such as the 5 points of yoga comes in handy during times of suffering by offering systematic methods to get out of the box and move into a new paradigm of consciousness. As Einstein once said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that has created it.”

Healing Emotions

In addition to the numerous medical benefits of Yoga, we can find through Yoga a spiritual approach to healing the psyche and the emotions. Yoga understands and explains the ups and downs and highs and lows of the mind, the samskaras, and the deep karma they come from.

In Yoga philosophy when we talk about suffering, we talk about karmic lessons, and we are talking about samskaras or karmic imprints.

Suffering in our lives can point out the areas or tendencies we need to focus on to evolve so we do not repeat the same mistakes. In other words, we “work through the karma“.

We can be proactive instead of reactive as we take up the opportunity to alleviate our suffering by using the scientific and systematic methods of Bhakti Yoga and Raja Yoga.

These methods will calm the mind, convert the emotions and allow us to experience the Truth about ourselves. Patanjali, the father of Yoga, said in the Yoga Sutras, “The misery that has not yet manifested should be avoided.

Thus devotional practices and meditation practices, initiated by suffering, can blossom into awareness of our own karmic tendencies and samskaras and our willingness to transform our emotions by practicing pure love.

© Swami Sitaramananda 2018 – No part of this article may be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the author.

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