Meaning Creates Healing
Deeper than our experiences, deeper than even our thoughts, there is an intelligence to life. This intelligence can be seen in the way plants grow in the direction of the sun. It can be witnessed in the way the planet pivots and spins in its orbit. And it can be experienced when our bodies pump blood in and through the heart. There appears to be a greater intelligence to the world around us. “Things are the way they are in our universe,” wrote Brian Greene, theoretical physicist and author of The Elegant Universe, “because if they weren’t, we wouldn’t be here to notice.” Human beings are one part of a larger whole.
In other words, there’s a greater order to life, and that’s true of our experiences too. Even in suffering, a seed of the celestial can be found. At first, yes, suffering is awful. It’s hard. It may include despair, rage, loss, isolation, and deep pain. And in time, slowly, perhaps even years later, a sprout of meaning may break through the surface. You might discover, for instance, that years of childhood abuse was what generations of your family has experienced. You might then have compassion for your parents because they were only doing to you what had been done to them. It doesn’t make the abuse right but understanding and meaning can facilitate healing. And it might even inspire you to break the cycle of abuse with your children.
Or perhaps you’re suffering from anxiety or depression. In nature when a plant or tree is wilting or dying, it’s a sign that it needs more sunlight, water, or soil. With the psyche too, when there is dis-ease, it’s a sign that the mind and heart need more attention. And through that attention, meaning can sometimes be found. Perhaps depression developed out of loss or emotional pain that was buried. (Depression is often a de-pressing or pressing down of challenging or overwhelming emotions.) In a safe environment, those feelings and thoughts can be gently explored and carefully brought to the surface. Perhaps in that exploration you realize that moving into a depression, at the time, was easier than moving forward with your life.
Discovering the greater meaning behind the events in your life can help create perspective and purpose. In fact, Carl Jung believed that suffering has something to tell us. Without suffering, we would never discover what is important about ourselves. We would never heal, grow, and branch out into our fullest selves.