After reading Hanya Yanagihara’s novel “A Little Life,” our columnist grapples with the reality of suffering that doesn’t make us stronger.
A poem from Gregory Orr on the silver lining of a heart shattered open: the knowledge that our broken places are where beauty comes from.
College rejection and acceptance letters are in the post this time of year. Our columnist drops truth on how rejection can teach us to find value in ourselves, and not in the affirmation of the decision-making process of an admissions department.
Instead of denying frightening realities, sometimes the best path forward is a courageous acknowledgement of the truth.
If you could speak to a passed friend or family member, what would you say? An exploration of the healing that can happen when we stay in relationship with the ones we love, even beyond the end of life
From soured relationships to dead bugs, it’s a given: life can get disgusting. But sometimes we can step back and recognize that we’re far from powerless in the face of things we fear.
Unwavering gratitude can be an intimidating ideal. Sharon Salzberg examines gentle attention to the positive as a generous alternative to our negativity bias.
In this solemn reflection in summer light, Anita Barrows draws out the sweet tension of sorrow in the midst of beauty.
One of the hibakusha, the survivors of Hiroshima, reflects on life after the bombing in frank words: to honor the lives destroyed, and hope that her experience with death imparts a lesson about the preciousness of life.
Elie Wiesel, the beloved writer known for his profound memoir of the Holocaust, Night, speaks of the power of prayer and forgiveness in the wake of profound suffering.
Blame abounds in times of crisis, but this can be a destructive endeavor. Instead, Courtney Martin advocates for emotional generosity to ourselves and each other, and for holding ourselves accountable for bringing about a better reality.
Loss and trauma can cast us into uncertainty. Parker Palmer finds solace in the words of William Stafford, and wonders if being lost is the first step on a path to something better.
Guided by Naomi Shihab Nye’s beloved poem “Kindness,” Parker Palmer reflects on our capacity to emerge from the depth of suffering, into the fullness of compassion.
When we over do the things we love, sometimes the solution isn’t to do less or more but to do it differently. Sarah Smarsh reflects on treasuring the method of running over the measurement of it — and learning to scramble and splash with intention.
Collected counsel on forging meaning and joy from our suffering, and finding calm in times of tension.
“Sometimes the pain of the world seems incomprehensible. And if there’s anything that balances it, it’s wonder at the world, the amazingness of people.” Mindfulness meditation teacher Sylvia Boorstein gives counsel on finding joy and spiritual practice embedded in the rhythms of everyday life.
Using a children’s book on death as a scaffolding, Courtney Martin makes a case for kids teaching adults how to work through grief and death in better ways.
A heated political climate can bring a blaming instinct to the fore. Courtney Martin on pointing our fingers inward instead of out, and reimagining the capacity we already have to rehabilitate the American dream.
Our feet carry us forward despite the circumstances. A series of memories from a life growing up on the periphery of privilege, and finding worth in what we are, rather than worthlessness in what we are not.
We often berate ourselves for letting go of challenges, but quitting isn’t always a destructive reaction. A former gymnast learns that stopping in place allows us to heal, and is sometimes exactly what we need to move forward.
Homelessness is present on the streets of Denver each day. So are stories of resilience, compassion, and dignity even through life’s most difficult trials. A live-in volunteer at a Catholic Worker house realizes that we find home in those with whom we journey through our toughest moments.
Working through discomfort doesn’t mean denying our suffering. Instead, Sharon Salzberg suggests a better way to move forward: allowing ourselves to feel pain without judgment, and accepting the validity of our own emotions.
A mother’s poetic reflection on simultaneously striving to comfort and teach her children, and learn from her own mother, about the growth that can come from struggle.
There’s much confusion between sympathy and empathy. Our columnist tells the story of a wise elder whose suffering led her to become a model for how to have a meaningful life.
What is the opposite of dukkha? Total rightness? Sharon Salzberg on the contorted postures we hold and the pain that arises out of the ungovernable nature of events in our lives.
A classic love song takes on new meaning in the light of darkness. A war correspondent hears Ry Cooder’s version of “Dark End of the Street” as an ode to suffering and the light that shines on.
Forgiveness is not easily granted. But, summoning the deepest compassion for ourselves and others may allow both parties to move on without bitterness. Through the bittersweet story of her friend, Sharon Salzberg imparts a lesson about the shifting course of relationships and a path to peace.
We spill something on ourselves, and then we postpone the inevitable: the cleaning. We often do the same thing with the pain and anger we inevitably experience. Omid and Rumi have something to say about stain-treating our hearts.
How do we sit with suffering? A lyrical pondering on how things fall apart — and worlds open anew.
How does one have a more supple heart that’s read to hold life’s suffering and joy? Finding a way in through a Mary Oliver poem and some guiding words.
Bedridden with an incurable illness, writer Paul Martin on navigating paths of pain and difficulty, and the depth and mystery of joy.
“The trade of chemist (fortified, in my case, by the experience of Auschwitz), teaches you to overcome, indeed to ignore, certain revulsions that are neither necessary nor congenital: matter is matter, neither noble nor vile, infinitely transformable, and its proximate origin is of no importance whatsoever. Nitrogen is nitrogen, it passes miraculously from the air into plants, from these into animals, and from animals into us; when its function in our body is exhausted, we eliminate it, but it still remains nitrogen, aseptic, innocent.”
MRI images of the brain of a novice meditator show signs of pain nearly disappear. (source: Robert Coghill/Wake Forest University…
It Gets Better: Dan and Terry The YouTube project called “It Gets Better” is a noble effort to help save…