As I navigate through my own spiritual journey, I’m reminded of what got me this far: Tough days. Debilitating days. Days where my emotions ruled my life. Days where I felt powerless, hopeless, directionless.
My fuel for growth and transcendence comes from how much I am suffering. And maybe it’ll continuously be a sea-saw of suffering & growth, suffering & growth. All I know is that the more I use these tough times for practice and lessons, the more well-equipped I feel to handle life’s challenges. I’m learning what exactly causes all of my suffering. I’m learning how to be in relationship with my thoughts, feelings and emotions. I’m learning how to view difficult situations.
All of our suffering comes from a false identity. We become defensive and protective. Outer events determine our level of self-esteem and pride. But we gently let go of this ego-identity. Over and over again. The more we do this, the more we realize that there’s nothing to defend or protect. There’s nothing to shame or praise. There’s a simplicity to life. There’s an ease in living. We just do the next right thing based on wisdom and compassion and we don’t reminisce about a past story or live in an imagined future. We are just here. Residing in this space. Simply existing. And we are already enough and whole. We have always been enough and whole. And we can move in the world having a robust sense of confidence that comes from true equality, knowing that all others are just like us. Same, same but different.
We can take a relaxed, fun approach to life once we understand who we truly are. Ultimately, we know that we’re not our thoughts, feelings and emotions. They come and go and they are ever changing. If we didn’t identify with them and just allowed them to be felt and come and go when they please then they won’t linger very long. They will past through us as if we were spacious vessel for all these mental events to freely flow. And we can just experience all the wonders of being human. As an observer.
Difficult situations are a way to transform harmful thoughts, feelings and emotions into love. Whether that be through wrathful compassion, tough love, discipline or preventing someone from harming again. Love does not always mean doing the easy or gentle thing. It means seeing the situation through a realistic lens and taking the right action. Difficult situations are there to challenge us, make us stronger. We learn to stand up for ourselves or to stand down and say sorry. Difficult situations are there to remind you to let go of this self identity that keeps us stuck. We remember to come back to breath. To come back to who you really are.
If we can just begin where we are, there is never any problem. We are exactly where we are meant to be in this moment. Transformation happens one moment at a time and the more present we can be, the stronger the bond to our true self becomes.
“Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already.”
― Pema Chödrön, The Wisdom of No Escape: How to Love Yourself and Your World