We don’t experience suffering in the modern world in the same way that the people on the Indian subcontinent did when the various spiritual traditions arose, all of them attempting to reduce it. In fact, those of us who practice yoga regularly experience what could be called anti-suffering. We feel on top of the world, indestructible, strong in mind and body.
But this feeling of indestructibility, of having cultivated that adamantine body, paired with a high standard of living where all of our wants and needs are quickly and easily taken care of, creates its own set of problems. We feel like we’re immortal, that things will keep going on this way forever. We forget that we’re just temporarily able bodied and that down the road sickness, decrepitude, old age, and death will come for us all.
The reason to take time to remember these grim realities is that doing so automatically transforms neutral emotions into pleasant emotions as we fully realize and appreciate how fortunate we are in this moment to be healthy in mind and body, able to enjoy life to the fullest. Death is a tragedy, but it’s one that’s unavoidable. Neglecting to fully appreciate life is a tragedy too, but it’s one that’s quite avoidable if we take time every day to feel gratitude for all that we are right now.