Since the time of Socrates, and likely long before, people examined their lives, in order to deal with the question of how to live. One way to do this, which is popular in the West since Freud, is psychotherapy. In western psychotherapy, we look at the story of our lives, to learn how we grew up to become the person that we are today and how to deal with the problems of our lives. This is closely related to a medical view on suffering as a pathology state that needs to be cured.
Another way of self-examination which is more common in Eastern philosophical and religious traditions, is meditation. In meditation, we are not so much analysing the stories of our lives, but recognising what happens in the mind when we sit still. The practice of regular and often lengthy periods of meditation gives insight in how every mind goes round in the same circles over and over again, often making people unhappy in the process. The object of study is not the story of our life, but rather the thinking mind itself.
This comes not from a medical viewpoint, which regards suffering as a medical condition that needs to be cured. Instead it comes from the acknowledgement that suffering is part of life, helping people to relate differently to their suffering, rather than solve it. With the introduction of mindfulness in Western medicine by Jon Kabat-Zinn, more and more people are learning how mindfulness meditation can help them to deal with stress, depression, anxiety and pain in a different way. It gives them tools to deal with these issues, even if it is not always possible to solve them.
If you are interested in getting acquainted with mindfulness practice and see how this can be helpful in dealing with the difficulties of life in a different way, please check our our upcoming mindfulness courses and events!