Two River Times January 2015 - Health & Wellness Columnist

Tis the season to be jolly! But what if you're not? What can you do about it? Well, if you're chasing enlightenment in the new year and are interested in how others have historically managed suffering, it might serve you well to review the Four Noble Truths. Buddhists everywhere will share that abiding by these key life lessons will help you improve your groove in 2015. The word Buddha is derived from the Sanskrit root word "budh" which means to awaken or to become enlightened. According to this 2500 year old philosophy, a crucial step toward enlightenment or awakening is to surrender to suffering. The Four Noble Truths give us clues on how to alleviate suffering.

The first Noble Truth describes suffering as a universal occurrence. We all experience "dukkha" which are those unpleasant things in life that we would prefer to avoid. Suffering, in a way, is the great humanitarian equalizer. No one goes unscathed from suffering in a lifetime. It's how we handle suffering that can make all the difference in our lives and the lives of others.

The second Noble Truth centers on the origin of suffering. Suffering manifests when we cling to or crave pleasure or permanency. At the same time, suffering can arise by rejecting what is or avoiding the unpleasantries of life that we have no control over. Ever hear the phrase "Pain in life is inevitable but suffering is optional?" The Buddha speaks to our choice in how we manage challenge and crisis.

The third Noble Truth speaks to the cessation of suffering. If we apply the teachings to our lives, and learn to accept life for what it is and what it serves up, then we are better positioned to suffer less and savor more. Tall order no doubt, but through meditation, yoga and thoughtful awareness, we have tools to help us reduce suffering and dial up acceptance. In the teachings, we are reminded that all that begins, also must end and learning to embrace this notion will help us come to terms with multiple layered levels of suffering.

Lastly, the fourth and final Noble Truth embraces and supports ethical livelihood and a moral compass as a directive for a life well lived. To ensure liberation from suffering, if we act well, speak well, intention well and activate authentic effort in the way we conduct ourselves, we become closer to a life lived mindfully which aligns with a life filled with less suffering.

So, as you take down your holiday tree and celebratory symbols this season, consider what it might be like for you to sit underneath a Bodhi tree as Prince Siddhartha did when he became enlightened at age 35. May the new year bring you less suffering and more mental clarity. Namaste!

DonnaLyn Giegerich MBA CIC RYT is an integrated business/wellness spokesleader that keynotes, consults and coaches on enlightened leadership themes in the corporate, wellness and convention space. Learn more at donnalyn.org/workshops or on Facebook & Twitter @DonnaLynSpeaks Locally, she's an insurance planning entrepreneur, leadership trainer and adjunct professor of economics and business.

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