A reason behind suffering


We suffer because we aren’t wired to let go of our painful experiences…

I boarded the plane from Paris going to San Francisco. I was excited to catch up on a couple movies so I put on my headphones and waited for the screen to turn on because an 11-hour flight is #LongAF.

I didn't bring any electronic devices with me besides my phone either.

Anyway, I’m waiting for the screen to turn on. And I'm waiting. Everyone’s waiting.

But nothing happens.

All of the screens are black.

The pilot announces: "The entertainment system isn’t functioning for this flight, we sincerely apologize.”

People sighed in disbelief and the collective disappointment was felt by all.

I felt a wave of despair gushing over me. I counted on these movies to pass my time! What was I going to do now?? How on earth would 11 hours pass? Ugh, I should've planned better. How can I not think of this scenario? My mind had taken over pretty fast.

I quickly stopped my brain from overanalyzing, focused on my breath and told myself to make a conscious choice.

I chose to turn this into an opportunity.

I could either be miserable and suffer the whole time which would make the flight really unbearable OR I could practice being more present and observe mindfully.

I practiced:

  • Meditation: I used this downloaded Spotify meditation music playlist. This instantly grounded and calmed me down.

  • Mindfulness: I felt discomfort in my abdominal area and I also had a sinus pressure headache. I offered loving kindness which released the tension I held in those spots.

  • Letting go: This was a conscious choice and took a little while to do but it was easier to let go of the discomfort my mind had set when I focused on my breath, especially after I had done steps 1 and 2. As Jack Kornfield says:  “To let go does not mean to get rid of. To let go means to let be. When we let be with compassion, things come and go on their own.”

  • Acceptance: I finally decided to accept the situation. It sucked, sure, but I didn't want to suffer through it. It was a long flight, but at the end, time doesn’t truly matter because it’s always now.

I also found comfort in the fact that I wasn’t alone in this experience, common humanity really helped. Some people were walking up and down the aisles a little restless, others were chatting but overall most people were sleeping so the disappointment dissolved after a couple hours as everyone started accepting what happened.

In the end, I slept more than I would have so I got plenty of rest.

This was a great representation of life flow. You expect things to happen a certain way. Sometimes they do, other times then they don’t.

We tend to suffer because we are fixated on how we think things should turn out instead.

However things turn out, it's ok because it just is.

What really matters isn’t so much what is actually happening, but how you respond to it and how you want to experience it overall. That's the only thing we have control over.