The Purpose of Suffering, Depression, and Disease

An excerpt from Blake Bauer’s book, You Were Not Born to Suffer. Blake will be presenting Unconditional Self Love, Qi Gong & Meditation at Hollyhock in August 2017.

The world breaks everyone, and afterward, many are strong at the broken places. – Ernest Hemingway

Wherever you are, please take a few slow, deep breaths into your belly. Feel your whole body, from your feet all the way up to the crown of your head, and then down to your fingertips. Please relax any tension you feel and let yourself be. Using each inhalation to open your body and create inner space, welcome everything you’re thinking, feeling and experiencing here in this moment. Please be present to your body and your breath.

Everything happens for a reason, especially health challenges of the mind and body. Although this may be difficult to accept, I’ve found that many of us unintentionally allow ourselves to get depressed or physically unwell, because we never learned how to express our emotions or care for ourselves in the ways necessary to remain healthy and happy throughout life. We learn from a young age to please others and to seek our parents’ or our caregivers’ conditional love to survive, but it’s often at the expense of being true to ourselves and it causes us very deep harm.

If we never wake up to this unhealthy internal dynamic, it eventually leads to depression, disease, relationship problems and most forms of suffering, all of which are simply cries from our soul calling us back home to ourselves, to the source of peace and strength within, and ultimately to love and value ourselves in each moment – starting now.

Early in life we learn to feel scared, guilty and ashamed to some degree about expressing what we feel, need and want, because this was apparently too selfish or burdensome for the people around us. Although everyone is actually selfish, but most often in denial about this, today many of us have become accustomed to living in fear. So now, after years of pleasing others and not looking after ourselves, we often find ourselves unhappy, unwell, or full of resentment, anger
and regret.

Confused, we ask ourselves: How did I get here?

No one is a bad person for wanting to live a deeply fulflling and authentic life. You are not a bad person for wanting to be healthy, happy, understood or fully met within a loving relationship. Yet we still feel shame for having these desires. We’ve unintentionally become entrapped in a web of our own weaving, because we have not realized that we’re waiting for a wholehearted commitment to our own wellbeing and that our suffering is simply asking us to speak and act based on what we truly feel in each situation.

I cannot help but point out the fact that modern conventional medicine has not discovered cures for ailments like cancer, autoimmune disease and clinical depression. Is it because there’s no cure? Or is it really because we’ve been viewing these illnesses and symptoms from a limited perspective and completely missing the purpose of these challenges? Could it be that we’ve been looking for the root causes in the wrong places?

I believe so.

Based on my experience working intimately with tens of thousands of real human beings, I’ve found that our mental and emotional health is both the cause of and the solution to most forms of personal suffering. Our ability to express what we feel effectively, overcome negative thinking and act in alignment with our true emotions, needs and desires, directly determines the quality of our overall wellbeing. Just because we cannot see something does not mean it’s not real. Just because we don’t directly watch the destructive process of non-physical toxicity developing into physical
toxicity doesn’t mean it’s not accurate or valid. If I said that the genuine love you feel for your partner, spouse, child, parent or pet was not real, how would you respond? I think that makes this point clear.

I’ve discovered that in most cases deep unhappiness and chronic illness are the result of the self-destructive, critical, judgemental and fear-based relationship many of us developed towards ourselves in childhood, which then leads to a weakened immune system, increased susceptibility to viruses, bacteria and environmental toxins, and ultimately to a lack of healthy self-care. Because we tend to be so lost in this harmful way of thinking and acting, since it’s all we’ve ever known, it’s very easy to overlook the apparently naïve possibility that transforming our mental and emotional dis-ease can bring the long-term relief and peace we’re seeking.

Life seems to take away anything or anyone we take for granted. Our life itself and our health fall into this category also. I have witnessed time and again how individuals ignore and disregard their mental and emotional life, simply because they don’t know how to honour it or talk about it effectively. Rather, we’ve all learned to use denial to survive, and the natural progression of this sentiment is a deep feeling of worthlessness, where one perceives that one’s feelings, needs and desires do not matter. We often feel our inner self or soul has no value or is not appreciated by the people around us, and the by-product of this is a body that does not seem to matter or feel worthy of attention either.

Basically, a heart not cared for or respected by ourselves becomes a body that does not feel good to inhabit. And this becomes a very vicious cycle that a person can actually get used to and allow to ruin their life.

To be frank: what’s the point of being alive if our soul feels trapped, misunderstood and valueless? What sentient being would ever want to continue to live a mentally tortured, emotionally anxious and overwhelmingly stressful life? Yet we as human beings feel unworthy of creating a lifestyle, career and relationships that make us feel good, alive and well on a daily basis. Although objectively it seems natural to desire a healthy and happy life, we are persistently held back by the guilt, fear, shame and underlying hurt inside
us. We live feeling disconnected, while this internal toxicity  trickles down inside like acid or parasites slowly eating us alive. Addiction and suicide can be understood in this light, especially when we recall what it’s like to feel we do not matter, silently suffering alone, without any idea of where to fnd love, understanding or healthy long-term relief.

“The body’s suffering is a mask the mind holds up to hide
what really suffers.” -A Course in Miracles

As a culture and as individuals we need to swing the pendulum of attention towards transforming our dysfunctional mental and emotional life if we want our body and outer world to refect a healthy internal environment. But before we can take these steps we have to fnd the humility to open our mind, especially if our current approach is not getting us the results we want. We have to admit that we didn’t know better and acknowledge that maybe our views have been limiting or not very healthy for us. This is not about making ourselves wrong, thinking we are flawed or blaming ourselves. Rather it’s about recognizing the fact that we inherited some very self destructive habits and beliefs from people who were doing their best, with what they knew, at the time. And now, our body, life and world is screaming out for us to finally heal our heart and mind.

For me, traditional Chinese medicine offers one of the most practical and logical insights into how our thoughts and emotions can lead either to health and happiness or to depression and disease. From this worldview the causes of physical and mental illness directly correlate to the flow of energy and blood in the body. In simple terms, when energy and blood are free-fowing daily we experience health, happiness and freedom from pain. But when they stagnate we will eventually encounter tiredness, depression, physical pain, weakened immunity and the toxic build-ups that cause serious disease.

This perspective asserts that blood in the body follows the flow of life-force energy. The best example of this is the energetic beat or pulse of the heart that causes blood to flow within our veins and carries our immune cells, hormones, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to all corners of the body. What is often overlooked in Western conventional medicine is the link between internalized thoughts and emotions that, coupled with fear and the resulting inaction, lead to a decrease first in the healthy flow of energy and
blood, and then logically to the impaired function of the various systems throughout the body, such as the nervous, circulatory and digestive systems.

Consider for a moment that a 40-year-old person, who has on average been awake for 16 hours every day and thus slept for 8 hours each night, has been alive and awake for 840,960,000 moments or seconds. That’s 14,016,000 minutes of life experience in which this person has been feeling and thinking something directly connected to their deeper wounds, needs and desires. Objectively, much of this inner process is made up of unresolved emotions and confused thoughts, which constantly circle the mind and body and are rarely expressed or addressed in a way we’re at peace with. This unhealthy internal environment typically leads to unhealthy lifestyle choices or addictions, which only cause more health problems, weakened immunity and life challenges.

Both thought and emotion are subtle forms of atomic energy, which when repressed constantly over time cause internal stress, limited oxygen intake and imbalances in molecular and cellular processes. Such repression also causes the flow of life-force energy and blood to slow down and become severely blocked. Due primarily to the various manifestations of fear, insecurity and people-pleasing habits, most people don’t act based on instinct, intuition, self-care and what their heart truly communicates, which creates further disruptions to the healthy flow of energy and blood in the organs and circulatory system. Symptoms like anxiety, shallow breathing, chronic fatigue, lethargy, digestive disorders, depression, bipolar disorder and insomnia set in, and we, and often our doctors, are not quite sure what the underlying cause is.

Eventually, over days, weeks, months and years of this process guiding both our life and our behaviour, the blood and fluid in our bodies begin to coagulate to such a degree that nodules, masses, growths and tumours start to form. This then leads to toxins building up in the bloodstream, fat tissue, muscles and organs, resulting in chronic pain and disease. In simple terms, our body becomes at war with itself on a cellular level because we are at war with ourselves mentally and emotionally. The miraculous intelligence of the body produces physical symptoms to alert us to the tear between what we really feel, want and need, and the fears that stop us from taking good care of ourselves, speaking honestly and following our heart. Although we’re not aware of it, living a lie and constantly rejecting our true self is exhausting and eventually breaks us down physically and mentally.

From this viewpoint it’s easy to see how living a stressful life compounded by work that is unfulfilling, or staying in relationships where we are not true to our deeper emotions, can create significant internal pressure on our major organs and central nervous system. If we are constantly fighting ourselves in this way, and do not listen to the messages from our body, the inevitable result is our self-destruction.

This does not account for excessive consumption of alcohol, food or drugs, whether recreational or prescription, which are habits motivated by a desire to numb deeper mental and emotional pain. Often this is a misguided quest for short term relief that only makes our health concerns worse in the long run. These crutches for our broken heart mask our feelings of not being worthy of love and the burden of living in perpetual fear.

My view is that both genetic and acquired immune system problems all stem from this dynamic. If we are destructive in our thoughts, emotional life, behaviour and lifestyle habits, over time the decrease in blood and energy flow, as well as the build-up of toxins, lead to a weakened capacity to fight off infections from bacteria, parasites and viruses. Similarly, a toxic or parasitic mental and emotional life leads us to allow toxic and parasitic people to remain in our lives, which directly correlates to an increased susceptibility to all forms of pathogens and environmental toxins that will further eat away at our health, happiness and peace when we allow it.

Most people understand that eating natural whole foods and adopting a healthy lifestyle will support wellbeing and prevent illness. What most don’t know, though, is that complete honesty, vulnerability and love for oneself in every situation is just as vital to our long-term mental and physical health. We are so used to hiding our true feelings in order to survive, keep the peace and protect ourselves from judgement, criticism, aggression and rejection that
we remain unaware we’re relating to ourselves in such a harmful way, or allowing others to take advantage of us, until of course we are forced to figure out why we’ve become so depressed or ill.

Deep down we all know there has to be more to life than suffering. But no one can save, heal or free us besides ourselves. This is precisely why the purpose of mental, emotional and physical symptoms is to show us where and how we’re not caring for ourselves well enough to thrive and flourish fully before we die. Once we understand the simple but profound truth that all suffering is the result of a constant rejection of the true self – a self that we never learned how to love, accept, value and care for properly – we can begin transforming whatever struggles we’re faced with and find deeper peace and health immediately.

Depression and disease is our body’s practical and logical way of alerting us to the life-or-death importance of giving ourselves permission to be fully who we are now. I have witnessed countless people stop being victims to their fearful and insecure thoughts, which empowered them to transform their suffering into a better quality of life. Once they wholeheartedly committed to speaking and acting in a way that valued their deeper feelings, needs and life purpose in every situation as the priority, even when scared, they were able to heal and forgive their past, and finally stop hurting and betraying themselves in the present.

The key, then, to the breakthrough is to stop running from yourself. Most of us today are moving through life so fast that we’re lost in a momentum of distraction, going from one person or place to the next, without ever slowing down. But if you can choose to create some space to be alone and stay open to yourself you can finally welcome your inner truths and feel deeply again. Then you can get clear about what you actually want in life, what feels good to you, and what makes you feel alive and well. I’ve found that when we focus primarily on these things daily, even when criticized for doing so, we support the healthy flow of energy, blood and emotion in the body and we naturally move away from any person, situation or habit that is no longer healthy for us.

Until we open our mind to our inherent capacity to heal ourselves and thus take our life, health and happiness back into our own hands, there will always remain aspects of ourselves that are closed and thus will not heal. It doesn’t matter how many doctors we visit or how great a practitioner might be. The walls of the ego and the small separate self must come down, which can only happen through bringing our own loving attention and acceptance to all the parts of us we’ve rejected and hidden over the years. Regardless of how hard life has been to date, I’ve found that it’s only through taking one hundred per cent responsibility for the depression, disease and worldly struggles we’re experiencing that we can finally see the purpose this suffering has served in bringing us home to our true self and to the source of strength and peace within. Blaming anyone or anything external only wastes the time and energy we need to heal and free ourselves now. If we choose pride or stubbornness over
honest vulnerability, our denial will only keep us trapped.

“No one decides against his happiness, but he may do so if he does not see he does.” – A Course in Miracles

The moral of this story is that even when we cannot see it, and even if we won’t allow ourselves to believe it, there is a much healthier and happier way of life waiting for all of us beyond the aspects of our lives with which we’re currently struggling. I’ve found that the single most important key to finding lasting peace is the realization that all suffering is simply a cry from our body and subconscious asking us
to love, accept and value ourselves now. All the mental, emotional, physical, fnancial and spiritual struggle we experience is purely our soul’s way of waking us up to the aspects of ourselves, our lives and our past that we haven’t yet learned how to love or understand fully.

Depression, disease, insecurity and pain force us to bring more awareness into our daily lives so we realize the value of living with kindness and compassion for ourselves, other people and all life. Our suffering actually stops us from running and reawakens us to the truth in the present, so we can transform whatever does not support our wellbeing or life purpose. Our struggles are meant to help us learn the lessons beneath what we perceive to be our ‘mistakes’, so we can live each day in a way that creates less suffering and more harmony, not only for ourselves, but also for everyone around us.

Suffering is irrefutably a part of life. It always has been and to some degree it probably always will be. But the amount we suffer and the excess pain we create can be significantly decreased and relieved once we understand how we bring it upon ourselves. The pain of not loving ourselves is how we learn to value ourselves sooner rather than later so we can enjoy the life we’ve been given.

It’s empowering to know that anxiety, confusion, sadness, frustration, anger, hurt, resentment, fear, shame, guilt, regret, insecurity, inadequacy and self-doubt are all merely the result of us not knowing how to love and value ourselves in the past. All the pain we’ve ever felt, feel now or will ever feel has its roots in the moments where we have not been true to ourselves, but rather have compromised, betrayed, abandoned, judged, rejected and therefore hurt ourselves.

When we accept this universal truth and apply it to our life we can finally free ourselves from all the additional suffering we unintentionally allow. I’m sure you agree that life is challenging enough without us being our own worst enemy.

There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. – Carl Jung

The only way to move beyond our identification with our struggles is to view these apparent obstacles as lessons to be learned that are making us stronger and better people. Regardless of how much we try to avoid pain, if we run from it or numb ourselves it will remain alive inside us, not only making us sick or miserable over time, but also causing us to react to life in ways that sabotage our relationships, goals and dreams. A large number of us live our whole lives trapped in some form of suffering because we keep denying the specific truths that seem too overwhelming, unlovable or scary to address. We never learned that through stepping into the unknown and honestly talking about these inner battles we can transform them, grow from them and ultimately thrive because of them.

Each thought, emotion and life experience can guide us towards improved health, happiness and self-respect if we can stop fighting life and find the purpose in what’s challenging us. Every single situation and relationship – past, present and future – is leading us towards an unconditional love for ourselves and the freedom that we know is possible.

In fact, the more we value ourselves, the clearer it becomes that our suffering in all its manifestations exists to guide us directly towards joy, kindness and truth. It creates the fork in the road we need to make choices to open rather than contract, to surrender rather than hold on to what’s not healthy for us, and to care for ourselves rather than live in guilt, denial or fear.

Practical Questions

These questions are specifically designed to transform the core psychological and emotional blocks that are holding you back in life. As you work through these self-healing questions, it will be tremendously helpful to write out your answers, because expressing your thoughts and feelings in this way will help you to honour and clarify what is true for you. It will also free the psychological, emotional, physical and spiritual energies that have become stuck.

  • In what ways do you suffer or struggle but hold back from
    sharing this with other people?
  • What physical symptoms or illnesses is your body expressing
    as a way of asking you to love and value yourself more fully?
  • What do you struggle to love about yourself?
  • What do you struggle to love about your life?
  • Do you ever think about killing yourself? If so, why?
  • Can you see how the desire to end your life is in fact a cry from
    your soul to heal your internal relationship with yourself? Can you see how your physical, mental and emotional pain are asking you to heal the past hurt, sadness and anger stored in your body
  • Can you see how you need to learn to be kind towards yourself
  • Can you see how you know your current habits of thinking,
    speaking and acting are unhealthy, and instinctively you want to
    transform them into new healthy ways of living? If you knew with
    certainty that you could be free of the pain causing your desire
    not to be alive, would you then want to enjoy your life? Can you
    please find someone to speak to about how you feel, and please
    talk about your suffering honestly?
  • Practically speaking, what can you focus your energy on
    today that represents you taking care of yourself and therefore
    honouring what you love to do, want to do or need to do?

Key Affirmations

These practices will support you to think, feel and express positive, healthy and high-vibrational thoughts and words. I have found that working with the affirmations directly after answering the confronting questions that precede them is a very effective way to transform the limiting beliefs and unhealthy thought patterns that are harming you.

With your eyes either open or closed, wherever you are, please say each affirmation one at a time. If you are alone and you would like to say them out loud, please do so. If you are around other people and feel more comfortable expressing them only to yourself, that is very effective too. Either way, please feel your whole body as you express each affirmation. Take a few slow, deep breaths through your nose into your belly, and then imagine that you are speaking to every cell in your body. When you have an opportunity, please also try expressing these affirmations in front of a mirror while looking into your eyes.

Please also note any negative thoughts, emotions or physical sensations that arise within you as reactions to the affirmations you express. These will represent your subconscious blocks to living a fully healthy and happy life. Once aware of these inner limitations, you’ll be empowered to love yourself more deeply and reaffirm the positive, healthy thought patterns necessary to harmonize the negative energies that are trapped in your mind and body.

Finally, please consider that it takes a little time to create new, healthy neurological and energetic pathways. I like to compare this process to digging a new irrigation channel or riverbed. At first it might feel a little like manual labour, but eventually the pathway is created and the energy can flow freely and naturally in a way that supports rather than sabotages you. When you’ve been thinking in a certain manner for a long period of time, it requires patience and practice to redirect your thoughts, words and actions consistently in a positive, healthy direction. Thus, when you find yourself doubting or rejecting a positive affirmation please know that this reaction represents a part of your psyche, personality or identity that’s developed to protect you. In other words, when it’s hard to accept or feel what you’re affirming to be true, please be kind to yourself and know that the part of you that’s resisting represents a part of you that’s still hurting. In time, through being compassionate with yourself, the positive affirmations will help you to heal your heart and free your mind. So please do not give up.

  • I do not need to be sick or unhappy to be loved.
  • It’s never too late to start over. I can re-create my life.
  • I am not just my thoughts or my emotions.
  • The voice in my head is only a small part of me.
  • I have everything I need within me to be healthy, happy and free.
  • I am willing to master loving myself unconditionally.
  • The loving truth inside of me will heal me and fulfill me completely.
  • I find strength, clarity and compassion in my suffering.

Blake D. BauerBlake D. Bauer is an internationally sought after speaker and teacher with an extensive background in psychology, alternative medicine, traditional healing, qi gong, and mindfulness meditation. His bestselling book You Were Not Born To Suffer has helped thousands of people who could not find effective long-term solutions from conventional medicine, psychiatry or religion. Based on both his personal experience overcoming deep suffering, addiction, and adversity, as well as his professional success with thousands of people worldwide, his pioneering work integrates what he’s found to be the most effective approaches to optimal mental, emotional, and physical health.

Join Blake at Hollyhock for Unconditional Self Love, Qi Gong, & Meditation on Aug 9-13, 2017

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