Mindfulness, Deep Suffering, and “Sitting With Suicide”

As we reach the halfway point between the beginning and end of September, we acknowledge this is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month throughout the country. When deep suffering enters a person’s life – whether they be young, old, or anywhere in between – we are profoundly impacted by its presence. 

Suicide is often a function of lack of connection, including connecting with oneself, other people and/or sentient beings, and meaning or purpose in our life. We all experience deep suffering at one point or another in our lives. This is the human condition: suffering and deep suffering. 

Some of us have feelings of hopelessness at times, find ourselves in social isolation, experienced traumatic life events (such as loss of a loved one, physical or sexual abuse), serious accidents, or first responder/combat experience), are sober or have a dependency on one or more coping strategies (such as alcohol, drugs, food, sex/love, fighting, gambling, shopping/debting, codependency), have access to lethal means, previously attempted suicide (and for some of us we never told anyone, ever.), live in cultures and societal factors that make it difficult to talk about health/mental health and accessing services), experience financial stress, and/or feel a loss of purpose.

Who among us has not experienced a moment in our lives when deep suffering was present? It turns out deep suffering is much more common than people expect. As the Buddha recognized and taught, the First Noble Truth (Dukkha) acknowledges the existence of suffering and includes a range of unsatisfactory experiences, including physical pain, emotional distress, dissatisfaction, and the impermanence of all things. The First Noble Truth asserts that suffering is an inherent part of human existence.

When we feel lost, disconnected, and scared, “suicide” is the understandable thought. As the stigmas and misunderstandings start to fade (although never fast enough), more people are finding opportunities to “sit with their suicide.” Mindfulness and Dharma-based practices allow us to find our way back home – to our bodies, breath, mind, and heart – after being hopeless for too long.

Brian Stefan, LCSW
Brian’s inspiration and professional influences are many, but first and foremost is the well-known television educator Fred Rogers – “Mr. Rogers” – who reminded children of all ages: “If it’s mentionable, it’s more manageable.”

In our day-to-day lives, we experience a range of emotions. Emotions serve an important survival function by giving us information about what we need (such as boundaries, belongingness, etc.). However, some emotions may be highly-charged because they remind us of early experiences when we did not feel safe to share openly and honestly… READ MORE

Join Brian Online for:

Sat Sept 16th 10:00 – 11:30 AM PT for Into the Labyrinth of Suicide: Mindfulness, Deep Suffering, and Connection

Every Sat 10:00 – 11:30 AM PT for H.O.P.E. Practice Group (Healing Ourselves through the Present Experience)

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