By Gopika Nath October 2003 Turning a painful and adverse circumstance upon its head and giving it a positive dimension is not possible unless we have grieved enough and can no longer indulge the negative and draining emotion. An old Hindi film song sung by Hemant Kumar comes to mind: “Ya dil ki suno duniya walo ya mujhko abhi chup rehne do, Main gham ko khushi kaise keh dun, jo kehte hain unko kehne do…“ How does one overcome this? When does pain, loss, grief or sadness, if ever, become a dim memory? Living with pain is a challenge that most of us face each day, for duniya chain se jeene nahin deti (the world doesn`t let you live in peace), until you can put up the facade that you have overcome your pain or sadness. For if you cry, you cry alone, but if you laugh, the world laughs with you. “ Pain is not something that just goes. When life doesn`t seem to have compensated us for a loss or deep disappointment, for they are our constant companions, what we need to do is to try and see it differently. This means accepting the loss or disappointment as a gift or an opportunity. But turning a painful and adverse circumstance upon its head and giving it a positive dimension is not possible unless we have grieved enough and can no longer indulge the negative and draining emotion. It is when survival is based upon seeing it differently because the tears do not reward nor relieve the mind, but constantly remind you that you have not grown; only then does the human being start the process of developing a different kind of perception. Life is about experiences. The essence of any experience is the lesson it has taught us. This makes the knowledge we gain an outcome of having lived life. The experiences tot up to sum up what we have learned and the accolades we can expect is how much we have benefited from this learning by applying it in our lives. How does a disappointment become an opportunity and for what? The mind is unhappy because its wish has not been fulfilled, sometimes this is so because the pursuit of a goal is constantly challenged and therefore the mind is unwilling to accept sops, it needs hope in real and tangible terms. Close friends and relatives suggest trying something else, some people may even find an alternative, but there are others who are driven by an inner yearning to keep at the goal of their choice. The more the disappointments in this regard, the greater the build-up of the reservoir of pain. The wounds run deep and cannot be ignored, which means that the path or way of living has to be changed to accommodate the challenge they still wish to pursue. This is the opportunity that life has been waiting for, to tell you that the time has come to have the courage to make those changes. Pain is the indicator that you can no longer persist in the way that you did, say, a year ago. I do not believe that pain is meant to be ignored or brushed away under the carpet. Physical pain or mental anguish is the only way that we can know when it is really unbearable to carry on as we are. Sometimes we do not have the courage to tell those around us that we need their help. Our pain, in a physically manifest way, often gets us the help, support and caring that we need. Some people do not seem to respond until our agony is evident, because it is us who make light of it. Some of us do it out of fear of rejection, some because they are unable to make the changes that life is trying to tell them they need to make and some because their ego does not permit them to acknowledge that they are human, that it`s all right to feel pain, and express it. Pain through disappointments in our lives makes us sensitive. It opens us up to a different dimension of being. We can choose to acknowledge this or deny it. We can choose to see the sensitivity as a boon, or curse ourselves for being unable to shrug things off like we did when we were, say, 20 years old. Yes, there are some who become hardened by their experiences in life, but the spiritual aspirant does not really have a choice in this regard. They made the decision the day they started on this path, to incorporate their enhanced perceptions and sensitivities into their daily living. This cannot be denied or changed mid-way, unless you change the path itself. I have had to take many such turns in my life, to change the way I live and what I do each day and how much. Each change, especially early on, was difficult to make because of the fear that life was not going to be able to accommodate the changed me. But this has not been true. Each time change was needed, help was always there at hand, I had to acknowledge the need for help, I had to understand what I needed and humble my ego in asking for that need to be fulfilled. And life did respond. The one thing I now try and remember is that since I have undertaken to follow a path devoted to the spirit or God, then the power of the spirit will always honour my need and pain. There is no room for fear in the kingdom of God. All one needs is a prayer to give us the courage to succeed or deal with whatever circumstance that life puts us through, because pain is really just a memo, a reminder that something needs to be done. What we need to do is to slow down, understand exactly what we feel and therefore what needs to be done to accommodate these feelings, to bring the requisite change into our environment and in our lives.
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