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Lean in to Support

Blossoming spring seems to be in defiance of the chaos around us. Inspired from a recent post by Matt Kahn - Displacement is occurring worldwide as we live through the deconstruction of an old paradigm. We were born to be here, to experience the crumbling and the rebuilding. Each of us is a warrior in the great unraveling.

Kahn states, the old paradigm holds a collective belief, “we can successfully heal and defeat pain or escape the grip of suffering, as if the plight of inner despair suggested we are in some erroneous state of resistance, aren’t healing fast enough or doing enough to make resolve occur.”

“As we are coming to learn in the new era of spiritual exploration, healing is not the opposite of suffering; instead, suffering is the means through which our deepest healing occurs.”

“Suffering is the means through which our deepest healing occurs.” I learned early on if I’m in pain, something is happening to me because of something I did or someone is doing something to me. I don’t think ahead; I am in too much of a hurry; I hurt their feelings; I didn’t say the right thing; I’m being selfish. My list goes on justifying why I suffer. It’s either someone else’s fault or my fault. Where is my finger pointing?

We are well underway in this global transformation into Universal Truth. No matter how dire our circumstances, it’s not our fault. We are being broken open to discover our light within. The longer we believe we are to blame, the longer we stay stuck in the old paradigm.

I can’t make sense of the struggles that befall people. I never made sense of my baby being born with a terminal illness. I found comfort and solace in believing she came into this world for a purpose, a bigger purpose than punishing me. She shook us up, and our choice was to wake up or ignore. My life changed because I found lessons in everything I experienced. Someone else may choose to focus on the loss and the pain and live an embittered existence.

No matter our story, it’s up to us to lean in to support and love as we weather the storms.

Against the Wall — with Gratitude

Feeling worried, defeated or insecure, this is what to do.

Lean with your back against a wall — any wall will do — close your eyes and breathe. Hear these words begin to form: Thank you for being constant and solid. Someone built you. Thank you for the abiding structure you provide. Thank you for bearing witness to my presence, quietly affirming my existence. I feel you offering no judgment, no opinions, no arguments or contradictions — I feel your reinforcement, neutral stamina and strength. Thank you.

Now speak within, directly to your heart say *thank you* — because you’ve noticed there’s a rhythm you can soothe. Thank you for doing your nonstop best to harmonize this beat with the next. Thank you for mornings chased by nights, the million times a million micro-choices recorded on your pulse, the grace you let sneak in — so expertly summoned when the Ego wasn’t listening.

Thank you for verifying: this injured moment is not fun. There’s a reason I needed a place to lean.

Thank you for steady contrast to my drama, for sticking with me through it all.

Thank you for not judging me — or anyone else right now — and simply being with me, wanting the best for me, doing what you do so well. Dear Heart, I’ll hear you now.

Against the wall, the world leans in freely to receive this beat and the next. For your presence now refreshed, the air says, Thank you.

Participants’ Reflections:


  • Thank you. That helped me look at suffering and healing and see the connection. I have heard the concept of healing making us whole. I like that definition. The suffering doesn’t have to be horrible. Sometimes it’s a low-grade suffering like a low-grade temperature. It’s all part of a process. It has different gradations.

  • The suffering portion of the reading jumped out for me as well and stayed with me in a helpful way. The line ‘suffering is the means through which our deepest healing occurs.’ I am feeling fragile these days. That’s new for me. I generally feel pretty self-confident. It comes possibly from the finger pointing at myself, being harder on me than the rest of the world is. I’ve always gone along with everyone. I enjoy blending in. I feel like I stand out these days in ways that feel uncomfortable. When I reflect deeply, I need to be right where I am. This is a late-in-life new experience. You were talking about the chaotic dismantling of the old, transitioning into something new that has not yet arrived. It helped me sit here and lean into not only the support, but a number of opposites. I feel fragile yet strong. I feel vulnerable and yet mentally and physically healthy. I feel acceptable and not acceptable. I realize that my discomfort comes when I am listening to others. When I listen within and take in the beauty of this springtime and get into the present, it all gets better. This morning I leaned into a tree like your poem had us leaning into the wall. No judgment and support is helpful and so has this reflection been. Thank you.

  • It seems to me the context that Kahn was talking about is like the current situation we have with Covid. I was listening to NPR yesterday, the guest was a researcher who studied 1918. The interesting thing was, in almost every case, people’s reaction to what happened was based on their existing frame of reference. Public health nurses were judgmental of the poor people they were trying to help. That their illness wasn’t a result of the flu that was consuming the whole world, but because they weren’t hard enough workers. I think the truly wonderful thing about the situation that we find ourselves in today, it’s absolutely without precedence. And you look at what we have discussed in this group in the last year and it has forced us to reexamine every preconception we’ve had, and the wonderful insights people have had. It’s overwhelming. I think we are gifted. We’ve had this opportunity and its enormity has forced us to reexamine all our preconceptions. I think we will emerge for the better. We already have as a group. I hope a broader part of society does as well.

  • Thank you for talking about suffering. When I am not suffering and have in the past, I get to reflect on it. I was thinking about the times that I’ve had high-level suffering, like when I was raped and also when I split with my partner. Those times of deep suffering made me a different person. We talk about how Covid is unprecedented. The major sufferings we go through make us different people. Thankfully they do. If we use them as stepping stones, or small mountains in our lives, I realize those are the places where I turned big corners in my life and got great meaning even though there was a lot of suffering involved I became a different person. I related to the blending in thought. I’ve done that most of my life but I don’t do it much anymore because I’ve come to like myself finally. I love to bake, and when I bake cookies and cake, the nuggets like the nuts don’t blend in. It’s the nuts in cookies and cake that are exciting. So, I’m a person and I don’t have to blend in.

  • Thank you. This was a great reading. I do love that line that ‘suffering is the means through which our deepest healing occurs.’ The question is how to suffer through the suffering without falling apart. A scientist I knew used to give talks to interdisciplinary groups and he would say just hum through the math. You don’t have to wrack your brain trying to understand the math, just hum through it. And in some ways, that’s the challenge. If I believe that the suffering is where the healing occurs, then suffering is necessary in order to get where I want. But if I get attached to the suffering, it can ruin me. The challenge is to hum through the suffering on my way to recovery. When I’m not suffering, it’s easy to say it. When I am suffering, it’s almost impossible. The challenge is to practice that. And to learn to detach (see blog Jan 22). The Buddhists talk about detaching from suffering. Right now, I have a sore in my mouth and it is disrupting my life. It’s a small suffering, but it is still a suffering. With this small suffering, I can practice being in a good space. Every day, I’ve been accepting the sore and loving the sore and knowing it is there for a reason. And I’m ready to let go of it. I am choosing to let go of it. That’s what I say to myself every day.

  • There is pain and there is suffering. Buddhists say that pain and non-acceptance are suffering.

  • I loved your reading and your poem. Both spoke to me so deeply today. During the meditation a few days ago, I realized how much this group has meant to me since I started coming about a month ago. I got into regret that you’ve all been meeting for over a year and I missed out. But I realize that that attitude is not helpful. I am grateful every day I am here. It came to me: mentors of my authenticity. I think about this group often and that is what has been so amazingly rich for me. I’ve never been in a group where everyone is so authentic. I work hard to be authentic and I so appreciate all of you. When you were reading the poem about the wall, it came to me that you all have become my wall. All day long. So thank you for that. I am grateful. I almost didn’t say it from the risk of sounding corny. But I got over my fear and did it anyway. Thank you.

  • We all have those feelings and it’s so important to hear them. I absolutely believe I could go find a stranger who is willing to sit in a group like this and that person will find relief from the authenticity. Because people get stuck and they don’t know how to change it until they are broken open with some disaster and they don’t know what to do from there. Suffering serves to wake us up. How we survive it is in communities like this, and learning to lean in and comfort ourselves in ways that offer solace. I’m all for that.

  • It’s why we do this blog, to make it accessible to people who haven’t been here every day. We connect each reflection to past reflections, especially to early ones, so that people can find the same topic in earlier reflections.

  • Because when we are in a suffering state, we look for help. It comes in all different ways. It speaks to us in different ways. Someone here says something and it speaks to us. It reverberates out and it helps us deal with ourselves, with people around us in the world, and with life.

  • Some of my experience with being authentic, originally when I found my voice, it wasn’t done very well. My basic experience is if I act and speak from my heart and my authenticity, often I am met with people who say thank you because somehow I touched them. Others say thank you and run away, because they’re not there at that point. So I’ve found that there are some people who found me and needed me and there are others who just pass by. It sort of works that way. The more authentic I can be and as I hone it, I have less tolerance for chit-chat anymore. Less tolerance for being with people who aren’t authentic. In some ways, it makes it hard.

  • After I had my daughter who was so sick, I started going out into the world. People would come up to me and say ‘oh, you must be so excited having a new baby.’ My response was ‘it’s not going so well’ and I would share the truth about her condition. One woman, in the middle of my sharing, put her hand up in my face and said ‘stop, I can’t hear this.’ She turned around and walked away as I was pouring my heart out. It took me years to learn not take that personally because it hurt so deeply. I was being authentic. But it was her pain that she couldn’t deal with. She couldn’t feel what she was doing. What a teacher she was for me. It made me realize that the words I share with anyone have to be the words I want to share, not what I think others want to hear. It has really helped me define what I say to people because that will spur what people say to me. It’s a great way for me to take care of myself. People are where they are, and I get to choose what I share.

  • Thank you for listening. Thank you for your authenticity. We all speak from our own agenda. We all have joys and we all have pain. I hope you all have a gentle day. I hope you all grow roots in your authenticity and be with your hearts and accept your fears and conundrums. Breathe through it knowing you have a community to lean on.

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