The Alchemy of Suffering & Joy

The Alchemy of Suffering & Joyfeatured

I recently had two experiences in a matter of a week that were exactly the opposite. One was witnessing my best friend’s in a state of pain and suffering and the other was witnessing my sister marry her partner, her best friend, the love of her life.

I laughed, I cried, I smiled, and I wondered maybe this is what life is about: experiencing, feeling, and being present in these moments rather than questioning, rather than running away from them. We need both of the types of experiences to allow us to become whole.

After each of these events I sat with my self and all my feelings. It was painful, but rather than choosing to remain stuck in fear and uncertainty I sat with myself and transformed my energy into one that empowered me to grow.

We experience, we witness, we participate in events of suffering and joy to open our hearts. From watching my friend physically suffer through his treatment to watching my sister say “I do” to the man she knows in her heart she wants to spend the rest of her life with, they both opened my heart in powerful ways.

A friend wrote me a few weeks ago and said, “Cancer is cruel, but people can soften the pain often times better than drugs. Keep doing what you do best.”

All we can do is our best in both suffering and joy. All we can do is be completely present and accept that we cannot change what is happening, but we can grow from both our painful and joyful experiences. Together they allow us truly appreciate life.

Both of these experiences have showed me that life is precious. They showed me that in celebration and in suffering people are the greatest gift you can have by your side. They showed me how to be in the moment with myself and with them. They showed me that this one moment, right now, is all we truly have. Let us feel it and be with it to our fullest ability even if it means crying or feeling completely overjoyed.

Many times we think that to open the heart we must experience a “positive” heart-opening event, such as a wedding. That isn’t necessary true. Grief and death, trauma and suffering can teach us just as much, and even maybe more, than joy and happiness alone. We need all these types of events to show us what we are capable of and how powerful the force of love is.

I am learning to not question and rather feel. Some days I want a break from feeling, but then I realize what a gift it is to feel, to be completely in the moment, present, and at peace with everything happening around me. I cannot control it, I can only be with it. I can only feel it and I give my self permission to feel so I can become stronger, kinder, more gentle and loving.

Through this acceptance and process I am learning how to take care and love myself so I can better support others around me. We must learn to love our self fully before so   we can learn to give our presence and love to others fully.

The more I let things be, the more room and space I give to myself to grow and that is the greatest gift of all. I surrender to what I do not understand and rather I will give my time to opening my heart so I can continue to receive gifts that I never thought were possible. It doesn’t make it easier, but it sure makes life a little more sweeter.

About the author


Feeding The Heart is a blog and resource dedicated to empowerment for whole heart living after trauma. I'm a writer, trauma sensitive-informed yoga teacher, and a trauma survivor here to share my story and journey of holistically healing.

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