I know it hurts sometimes, darling…
That life, once in a while, wakes us up with pointy prickles instead of soft feathery down—and that we must learn to be okay with this, for we have no other choice.
But what we begin to learn is that heartbreak doesn’t mean we must give up, fall down forever, turn away or completely crumble. It means we will learn strength and attain the will to move forward—and that in our struggles, we discover a wisdom that knows how we can rise back up.
One day, we will realize that all the pain we went through was just as valuable as all the pleasure, because each one opened us up equally well.
For we know in our hearts, it is the cracked apart places where new seeds have the space that they require to fully grow—and the loss of a love certainly does that; it makes space.
I am learning slowly that it takes time too—this blossoming thing—and that another heartbreak may in fact be what is necessary to help us learn that patience is indeed not a virtue but a requirement for growth. Because the truth is we don’t always get what we want, when we want it; often, we get it much later or sometimes never. But maybe in place of what (or who) we thought we wanted, there lies some sacred wisdom, one where we might finally discover how to be okay with what is, instead of struggling with what is not.
In Buddhism, we learn that “patience” has several other meanings. It’s Sanskrit name is Kshanti which translates to forbearance and forgiveness too. Interestingly enough, patience in Pali (a traditional Indian language) also has another meaning: endurance.
So, our leaning into life and the experience of loss is actually breeding an elasticity in us. When we endure a heartbreak, we are building our capacity for forgiveness with life and ourselves. Through loss, we are then cultivating tolerance—and tolerance is a useful skill.
Buddhists believe that it is in the act of being able to sit still and relax through something difficult that we transform. This teaching is rooted in the practice of daily meditation. The act of meditation is opposite from the Western perspective of needing to move towards pleasantries and away from pain, it is about understanding how to hold our ground.
When we get still for a moment, we discover that there is much healing to gain from being heartbroken, and that patience is truly cultivated by the loss of something we love.
If we ever thought that living in the moment would save us completely from the difficult feeling of waiting for the next, better one to come along, we were wrong. But what it does provide is the building up of a deep courage to stay with our lives just as they are, a forbearance and a tolerance of the situations we find ourselves in, even if we originally wanted something different—and this is how we develop Vīrya, a Sanskrit word meaning courage, diligence and effort, which Buddhists believe leads us towards a wholesome and virtuous action.
To know heartbreak is to know bravery, and if we are at this achy spot once more, it might simply be because we needed further growth, or that we required to learn a little more patience, tolerance, courage and forgiveness. Forgiveness for our very human experience, one in which the American Buddhist Nun, Pema Chodron often points out: the rug is being continually pulled out from under, so that we may learn to relax into impermanence.
Loss will make us start over, but it is through practicing new beginnings that we then become good at them. We can remember that we have already developed the courage to do just this—begin. Slowly and gently, we will move forward after heartbreak; with patience in our back pocket, we can let our lives and ourselves unfold, rather then grasping or forcing them.
For it is through our strongest attachments that we suffer the most. We get to learn that by giving life space and time, we actually live the path that we truly needed—the one of Virya, the honourable and courageous one.
And with this choice to accept our heartbreak, we make the decision to see the bravery and wisdom in loss and the healthy attributes it cultivates in us. One day, we may wake up to discover that the thing that we had to let go of, we no longer want nor need.
Patience, my dears, will eventually make everything clear and help us realize what losing love can actually give us.
Kshanti is the most valuable tool we can have in our lives, because it is indeed not a virtue; it is a necessity, and if it takes heartbreak to build this in us, then bring that ache on.
Author: Sarah Norrad
Image: Instagram @elephantjournal
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina