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Awareness and meditation make you more alive, more sensitive. You live a more vivid, raw, immediate life. You also may suffer more acutely.
Removing the barriers opens you up to both joy and sorrow. Rather than hide behind falsehood and distraction, you look life in the eye and admit the truth.
The human body
We do not care to admit to ourselves quite how fragile the human body really is. It is easier to pretend. Our body deteriorates daily. This is the inevitable curse of adulthood.
The slow decline towards death. Modern culture creates fake ways to prolong the appearance of youth, and encourages exercise in order to prolong life. Yet, we are all slowly fading.
The body is gradually failing.
Looking after yourself
Exercise, meditation, diet and relaxation may indeed increase your lifespan, and will almost certainly improve your quality of life. But nothing can stop this slow slide towards death.
The difficulty with illness is to accept that humans are vulnerable. We are susceptible to disease, injury and pain. There is no way to avoid suffering.
Instead of pretending that everything should be perfect, we accept that things are what they are.
Trying to live some dream of eternal youth, eternal fitness and invulnerability is naive. Reality is complex. Things happen. Life is not always good.
We may eat well and live well, yet still succumb to illness. This is the way things are.
You may cope with a situation and see it as being no big deal. You may know someone else in an equivalent situation. They may be struggling desperately. For them, the problem is huge.
It is easy to be unsympathetic. To expect others to handle things in the same way that you did.
Sensitivity is not a cultural effect, the result of
influence; it is a state of being vulnerable, open.
We are all different
Some people are more emotionally hardy. Others hide their feelings. There is no single rule that can be applied to all people. We are individual and unique, despite our commonalities.
If someone is suffering, and you are tempted to dismiss it, why not pause and reconsider? The person may well be suffering. Do not be so quick to judge, to discount their feelings. Do not be callous.
Not all suffering is real. A lot of it is simply insecurity. Many people do all manner of things to draw attention to themselves.
They feel to be drowning in insignificance and desperately try to acquire your attention. The most compassionate response is often to step back and do nothing.
When a person comes to terms with the vulnerable nature of the human body, they cease to be quite so callous. For example: the aim of self defence is to evade harm. It is not to inflict harm.
Everyone is as fragile as you are. They can be harmed, they can feel pain. They will suffer and they will die. When you accept this, you learn to show compassion. To have restraint and consideration.
If you realise quite how vulnerable you really are, and how precious life is, you cease to squander your life. You slow down and take a little more care. Relationships become more important.
You make time for people. You lose your temper less. Instead of swaggering through life, uncaring, unfeeling and indifferent - you walk a little more cautiously.
Page created 2 March 1995
Last updated 17 March 2020