During these times of intense changes – globally & personally – you may be feeling as if many deep issues are rising to the surface to be healed, or perhaps you’re seeking clarity on patterns in your life that are causing you pain. I share this insight in the hopes it helps you as profoundly as it did my path. There are 2 sections — how I came to have the Insight, then the core Lesson below.
I have spent time over the last several years in the Amazon jungle and around Peru, continuing my training and path as a shaman. During one night in the Amazon jungle we went deep into ceremony with the Curanderos – the medicine men – for healing, for awakening, for truth, and for a deeper connection to the greater world in which we live, both seen and unseen.
My specific intent on this night was to learn about Divine Love and the release from suffering. But at one very specific moment, I was begging to be released from the pain I was experiencing. In ceremony the pain can be overwhelming: I went between states of total bliss and divine love to overwhelming pain – physical, emotional and energetic. I felt true Divine Love in moments of complete ecstasy, understanding what it meant to live with a pure heart and light soul. But in contrast, I also had moments where my physical body was twisted and contorted in a heap on the floor, wretched in pain, my heart and mind overwhelmed with grief and my clothes drenched from tears (or, on the rough nights, from vomit while I released all of the heavy energies).
It’s not always fun, but the lessons are profound.
While I was experiencing these extremes of pain and suffering, a very strong image of the Virgin Mary came to me, followed by an image of Jesus. At that time in my life I had not felt connected to these figures, as I had held the belief they were part of a religion I no longer embraced in the form I knew it to be. Regardless, I listened and stayed open to what it was I being shown, even if it was just my imagination.
One thing I have learned about the spiritual path is there is a thin veil between imagination and spiritual insight. One often requires the other.
So in this moment, I trusted what I was being shown.
What I was shown in detail was Mary’s life journey and evolution. She showed me that her process to become “pure” was a journey of the Heart, a purity of her Soul. She was not born that way but chose the path and worked to get there. The “immaculate” part of the conception, as it is referred to in some religions, was not about the act itself but that she herself was immaculate – her heart, her soul, and her mind were free from suffering and held only pure energy. Her very Being and essence were pure light. She held no hatred, no stress, no worries about future, no pain from the past, no heaviness in her heart. She showed me how she was free from the heavy energies that weighed people down, and as a result she was able to reach a place of Divine Love that enabled her to create a lineage of the same purity. She had reached what Eastern practices would called Enlightenment – true lightness of one’s Being at all levels.
As I tried to understand the process of her life’s work, she “introduced” me to her son. This was Jesus. I was shown his own journey to have a pure heart and a complete, whole, Soul. I was shown an image of him on the cross, and that while it was physically painful, his Soul did not suffer. His Soul was complete, intact, and light. He was able to stay in that place of purity despite any atrocities around him because of his Soul and the true place of pure light he held at all levels of his Being.
I was then shown in my own life where I had pain but where I was also letting my soul suffer needlessly. I was shown how I could release myself from suffering for the rest of my life — no matter what pain came my way — if I maintained a pure heart (always coming from unconditional love) and a whole and intact soul (one that is healed from all past wounds and no longer holds on to heavy energies).
Mary then showed me that this was one of the biggest challenges of people today:
It is not the pain in the world that harms us, but the suffering we hold on to.
I was shown that pain can be a part of our journey as humans at this time, but suffering is something we choose. They had both chosen their lives to be free from suffering, and in turn helped others to do the same.
So what is the difference between “Pain” and “Suffering”? These two words are often linked, and seemingly one principle. Isn’t suffering always painful? And doesn’t experiencing pain – be it emotional or physical – cause suffering?
Think of the suffering you may have in your own life: Relationships that no longer nurture you yet still wreak havoc on your life; on-going fights with loved ones or co-workers; beliefs you aren’t thin enough or smart enough or good enough that continually play in your mind; or perhaps traumatic events that continue to affect you, be it abuse or illness or addiction.
So are Pain and Suffering always connected?
Pain is a part of life. It’s something we all must face. Physical pain from an accident or illness; Emotional pain from the loss of a loved one or from a fight with our partner; Energetic pain from allowing ourselves to be drained to the point of exhaustion. Unfortunately we cannot always escape pain in our lives altogether, its currently part of our human existence.
But the thing is, Pain ends. Like childbirth, it can be extremely painful during the moment, but if you hold on and push through, focus on the end, the pain will eventually stop.
Suffering, however, is everlasting. There is no stop and start. The physical pain can end, but when you stay attached to the pain you cause yourself suffering.
We have all witnessed collective Suffering as a result of Pain inflicted years, decades, or even centuries earlier — such as to native/indigenous communities, to a particular religious group of people, to women, or perhaps even within your own family lineage. This collective suffering transcends generations and is passed down through families or communities and is perpetuated in thought, conversation, stories, or patterns, despite the actual Pain of the original trauma or incidence being long gone. The Pain is different than the Suffering.
How many times have you had something happen, say hurtful words someone said to you, then you replay it over and over in your head, holding on to each word, feeling the heartache for days, weeks or even years? Or like a splinter in your finger — if you leave it in there, afraid to pull it out (like I’ve done!), so it gets red, perhaps infected, and causes more pain over time. If you chose to remove the splinter quickly – although painful in that moment – the healing could begin, the pain would soon stop, and you could move back to a state of balance.
So Pain may be inevitable in your life once in a while. But if you knew there was an end to the Pain, and you did not have to Suffer through it, could that give you the courage to push through the Pain faster, knowing it will end? What if it only required a bit of fearlessness and courage, whatever small amount you can muster, to face the Pain and cycle through it quickly?
This was made clear during a painful conversation I had with a loved one upon my return from the jungle. My heart ached, I was upset, tears streamed down my face between sobs. As I sat on my bed in a heap, I was engaged in the suffering and was overwhelmed with grief, thinking of the weeks or months of hurt I will feel. I stopped myself mid-way through and thought “ok wait, this conversation is painful, but I don’t have to suffer, this is not the path I choose”. I realized at times I suffer out of guilt, thinking I should suffer, as if that made it easier for the other person. But that only added to my pain. So I caught myself and thought “Get through the pain, it won’t be too much longer. My Heart and Soul is intact, there is no need to suffer”. I stayed focused on unconditional love, an open heart, and seeing my soul as whole and complete. I felt a deep stillness within me as I faced whatever painful conversations I had to have. I could deal with the pain if I knew I would not suffer. My ability to process through that incident and come out the other side lasted a few hours. Not days, not weeks, not months. My heart felt whole and I knew I had walked through the Pain but let go of the Suffering. As a result, I was able to stay present to the lessons in the Pain and learn from the situation.
So think of something in your life that has, or is, causing you pain at this very moment. How long have you suffered with it? Do you continue to hold on to the suffering with thoughts, words, emotions, actions? And is the true Pain of it still happening, or are you blurring the lines between Pain and Suffering?
It may not always be easy, but next time you’re faced with a painful situation, take a moment to ask “Am I feeling Pain? Or is my heart & soul truly Suffering?“.
If it’s Pain, know it’s only temporary and you do have the strength to push through it. Stay centered in your heart, feeling it whole and complete, and be open to the lessons the Pain is there to teach. If it’s the latter, ask for guidance from your Guides, Spirit, God/Goddess, or your Higher Self how you can release yourself from the Suffering, then let go. Trust. Surrender to the process of Pain, the natural cycle that it holds, as you’ll soon come out the other side and experience its opposite: Love and Wholeness.
The faster we can learn to let go of Suffering and be witness to the lessons Pain brings, life can be a much more beautiful journey. That is, one of pure heart, pure light, and eternal Spirit.
In love & light,