5 Truths That Enable Freedom From Psychological Suffering

Explore how resistance is linked to psychological suffering and five truths about our thought processes that can break the cycle.
Darren Cockburn is a meditation teacher, coach and author.
psychological suffering
Darren Cockburn is a meditation teacher, coach and author.

Wouldn’t it be great if we knew how to gain freedom from suffering? The good news is that I’m sharing how we can do just that through discovering five truths… When I say ‘suffering’, I’m referring to ‘psychological suffering’—not the pain we experience in our bodies. Psychological suffering is generated through thoughts. Which leads me to the the very first truth.

Freeing Yourself From Psychological Suffering

These truths build on one another and get more and more detailed along the way.

Truth #1

Because we have the power to influence our thoughts we have the power to reduce or remove our psychological suffering.

Truth #2

We suffer when we’re in resistance to our experience in a given moment. Something happens that our ego thinks shouldn’t happen. We then resist the experience and temporarily escape from it by getting lost in our thoughts.

Truth #3

Resistance is the trigger for becoming lost in our thoughts. Being lost in thought is a form of dreaming which can cause suffering. And most of us regularly believe things should be different to how they actually are! Crazy isn’t it? An example might be when we’re out walking without a coat or umbrella and it starts to rain. We might believe that it shouldn’t be raining. Another example, is that we lose something, and believe that we shouldn’t have lost it. Notice the words should and shouldn’t here that are negatively judging how things are in reality.

Truth #4

Resistance is always caused by our attachments. This is related to one of the central teachings of Buddhism. In the first example I provided somebody may be attached to their hair looking a certain way which changes when it’s saturated by the rain—then they suffer. In the second example somebody may have been attached to the item they’d lost.

All of our attachments at any given point in time form our ego. This is why it’s always the ego that triggers the suffering.

We can be attached to all sorts of things including possessions, knowledge, roles, likes, dislikes, creations, opinions, resentments, appearances, beliefs, positive or negative comparisons, addictions, attachments from the past or fantasies about the future.

Read more: Attachments can also turn into addictions. Tara Brach explains how to use mindfulness and compassion for healing addiction of any kind.

So how do we solve this problem of suffering? In two ways…

Firstly, we don’t get attached to stuff! Generally speaking, the mind only creates attachments when we’re lost in thought—it doesn’t do this when we’re mindful. And the second way is to gain freedom from being impacted by any attachments we’ve already created—we do this through being mindful. Then, we can think creatively and accept our experience rather than being at the mercy of the attachments and the conditioned mind.

Truth #5

The antidote to suffering is mindfulnessCultivating and practising mindfulness will reduce and ultimately remove all of our psychological suffering. In more complex scenarios, it may be necessary to think through our problems and re-wire ourselves psychologically. We might need a therapist to help us do this. But even in these cases we will only fix our problems through being mindful.

Practice meditation with these popular guided practices by Darren Cockburn:

  1. Body Awareness Practice Of Pleasurable Sensations Darren Cockburn 11:09
  2. Loving Kindness Introduction & Practice Darren Cockburn 19:22
  3. Inner Calm Darren Cockburn 10:29
  4. Awaken & Connect Darren Cockburn 3:55
  5. Presence Meditation Darren Cockburn 37:51

Read more: Jason Murphy explains the five faculties in Buddhist psychology that address the problems of our human condition and the suffering experienced in the mind and body.

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