How Do You Respond to Suffering?

You can play the victim, or you can transform it.

Beth Bradford, Ph.D.
4 min readMay 5


Yoga (and I mean the true meaning of yoga that includes Buddhism) is about liberation. Some yoga traditions believe in reincarnation, so this liberation is about being free from the karma of past lives. So we work through that karma best as possible in this life while trying to avoid situations that effect bad karma. But on a broader scale, it’s about liberating the soul. We all want to be free, right?

Whether we believe in reincarnation or not, many religious traditions teach us that we reap what we sow. If we have deceitful intentions in doing or saying something, we shouldn’t be surprised when we’re found out. And yes, we spend a good part of our childhood and early adulthood learning from our mistakes. We continue to aspire towards better things — and a better life — as we learn and grow.

Even along the contemplative path, even if we do our best to serve God, we’ll never be free from suffering. This is a hard thing to hear. We question God when we hear how people who’ve dedicated their lives to helping others fall upon hard times.

woman suffering from emotional distress
Photo by Emiliano Vittoriosi on Unsplash

Bea Gaddy knew what suffering was like. Not only did she grow up during the Depression, but her abusive, alcoholic stepfather would leave her and her brother so scared that she would have to rummage around grocery store trash bins so they could eat. She married a man to get out of the house, but they would live on welfare as they drifted from one apartment to the next because they couldn’t pay rent.

When her husband was murdered, she struggled to care for herself and her children. She eventually moved to Baltimore, where one winter she found herself in the depths of her suffering.

“I had a lot of time that winter to sit down and think about what being poor and hungry does to a person inside,” she told The Baltimore Sun. “I never wanted anybody to know I was in such bad shape because you think being poor and hungry is all your fault…Then I just started asking people to help me. And that helped me help myself.”

She would then take her childhood practice of rummaging through grocery store bins to help feed others. Grocery store owners were willing to help. Gaddy would set up Emergency Food Centers around…



Beth Bradford, Ph.D.

Former TV person, college professor and media researcher. Ironman triathlete, meditation teacher and yoga instructor.