Retreat 2023 “Thriving Beyond Sufferings”
Individually, and as a community, a lot has happened between our 2022 and 2023 retreats. Life's like that!
An awful lot can happen between one year and the next.
As Friedrich Nietzsche so succinctly put it: “To Live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.”
And so it was, that the subject of our workshop this year, was LIVING BEYOND SUFFERINGS; How To Find Pearls of Wisdom in The Depth Of Our Sufferings And Ways To Live Our Best Possible Life With Renewed Hope.
Needless to say, we all understood the meaning OF SUFFERING, because we were all alive, but many of us, were still grappling to find some meaning IN THE SUFFERING, and thus survive. No! Better than surviving, we were seeking to thrive from it. Surviving is a wonderful thing, but better still, is to thrive and enhance the present experience, with the jewels of wisdom that have been gifted us.
Not five or twenty years later, after surviving, but still carrying the pain and suffering with you. In other words – throughout the experience. But instead, most of us were still lugging past sufferings with us. Hurts and griefs and regrets that we had silently harboured for years, from situations that no longer belonged in our lives.
Unfortunately, though, what many of us have done after suffering from the initial blow – be it natural disasters, accidents, intentional harm, losing loved ones, being diagnosed with an incurable illness and more – is for whatever reason, we decide to go it alone. We suffer in silence for fear of being dismissed, fear of being judged, or feeling shameful. However, we forget that we are communal beings, instead deciding to isolate our wound, and in doing so, harm ourselves even more.
Our suffering impacts our lives in so many ways:-
· Our Health: Physical, Psychological, Emotional and Spiritual suffers from depression, suppression and oppression.
· Our Growth and Development: Stagnates through unhealthy Social Connections and Toxic Relationships, including our relationship with ourselves.
· Our Purpose and Passion: Wither on the vine, clinging to Unhealthy Behaviours and misconceptions.
Pairing off, and later as a group, we discussed the different ways our own painful experiences have affected us, and as you would expect, they were many and varied: Quiet and Withdrawn; Overeating; Alcohol Abuse; Diarrhoea; Anger; Self Sabotaging; Over-work; Unrelated expressions of emotions, and so on. Humans have an enormous reservoir of ways to inflict pain and damage on themselves. And all the while, our ‘managing behaviours’ become so entrenched in our lives, we don’t even recognise them as our survival mechanisms, until we either hit a wall, or someone manages to open our eyes to them. And then the digging and sorting can begin.
But it’s all choice. Many of us will choose self-denial, or continuing more of the same, because the task of unravelling our lives, more specifically our sufferings, feels too great an effort. Sadly, we unconsciously choose more suffering for ourselves.
For others, there are many ways to treat their sufferings, but understanding the causes and symptoms is the initial thing we must all do, in order to create management strategies like:
· Spending time in nature, the outdoors.
· Finding emotional support through healthy social connections.
· Exercising the mind, body and soul, through meditations, yoga, prayer etc
· Improved eating and sleeping regimes
· Medication or counselling where needed.
All of these things bring healthy ways for dealing with suffering, and at the same time, open our Awareness to recognising the Pearls of Wisdom, that are our gifts for the taking through the experience. Taking the necessary Action by responding, not just reacting to the situations, and finally Appreciating and Celebrating our small wins, and thereby validating ourselves and renewing our hope to go on living beyond sufferings.
Choice. Choice. Choice! This was the loudest most vibrant thread running through Tisiola’s Workshop.
“Life is a balance between holding on and letting go”. Rumi said,
We always have the choice, to accept we will never be the person we were X years ago, or we can mourn that fact and waste the remainder of our lives, never to reach our full potential. We can cling to past failures, griefs and hurts, or we can let them all go and choose to embrace new and better ways of living. There are people, lifestyles and things we can choose to hold on to, or if they no longer enhance our life – we can let them go.
The choice is always ours. And the balance between holding on and letting go, will determine the quality of the rest of our lives.
This year’s retreat was a wonderful weekend, filled with our usual love, laughter, authentic connection and the sheer joy that came from having Tisiola still with us, in good health, because she chose not to succumb to a dire prognosis, and instead, to continue living her ultimate life. Not in isolation, but always, in collaboration, with the community she has founded and nourished for the development and growth of all who make that choice.