When life throws us one challenge after another, it is easy to lose faith. It is easy to fall victim to despair, to feel like a pawn in a game of winners and losers. But no matter how bad the heartbreak, or the fear, eventually we must find our strength once more. We must breathe in deeply, and exhale, finding the courage that only a moment ago seemed forever lost. And with that courage we move forward, we believe that things can and will get better. Then something changes within us, something clicks, something shifts, and a greater purpose is fulfilled.
I believe that all challenges in life are opportunities, opportunities to further step into the light of who we truly are and evolve. So why wait to take this step? Why not take a giant leap towards our destiny instead of crawling on our hands and knees? Why not choose to evolve? Still the question is how? How do we do it?
There are many paths and ways to evolve and spiritually grow, but within hardships and challenges in particular, it may be important to become a witness to our thoughts and emotions, and experience them on a transient level, an evolutionary level. Most often, when we are experiencing emotional pain, we either express the negative thoughts surrounding the emotion, or we refuse to feel anything at all, digging a hole and burying the pain deep within. Neither is particularly conducive to the evolutionary process.
Instead, we might try placing ourselves outside of the mind and body, and observe the two feeling and thinking and reacting. As we do this, a counterintuitive process emerges, and we slowly lean into the emotions until we are directly in the middle of them. We may experience an array of physical sensations such as a tightness in the chest, heaviness in the stomach, or an antsy feeling up and down our legs. The instinct of the ego at this point will tell us to run away, to put up shields and barriers, but if we allow the process to continue, the pain and the correlating sensations will flow around and through us. We become the witness while experiencing what we must in order to move forward on the spiritual path and reach a higher level of vibration. Then the moment comes when it all fades away, the pain disappears like a wisp of clouds, and suddenly we feel lighter, freer, and settle into a newer version of ourselves.
Once we start making the conscious decision to evolve our way through challenges, it is quite natural and normal I believe, to experience frustration that the goal of constant awareness and bliss is not happening as quickly as we would like. But as Amma says, spiritual growth is evolutionary, not revolutionary. She explains that God takes great care even in the opening of a flower blossom, and we too must have patience as we witness the miracle of the inner blossoming of our spirit. But that miracle can only take place if we are evolutionary, and have the patience to put forth the necessary effort.
The best way to put forth this effort is through sadhana (spiritual practice). I am no expert on the Hindu scriptures, and I believe that it is possible to make almost anything a spiritual practice, but the core of my personal sadhana is meditation and japa (the chanting of mantras).
When it comes to meditation, I find that it is often a loaded word for many people. They think it is beyond what they are capable of, that all thought must be eliminated. It is impossible to sit and not think, so why do it? But meditation does not have to be so confined or defined. To sit and allow oneself to think in fact is a form of meditation. It allows us to at least attempt to be the witness, the one who is experiencing rather than the one who is reacting. And when we do this we lend ourselves to the opportunity of evolution, because that small act of effort, of sitting in silence, will bring forth all the energy and all the help that we need to move steadily down the spiritual path.
But as usual, we resist. Why on earth would we avoid the inner blossoming of the spirit? The most basic reason, is that we are scared to face the mind and all of its fear mongering. So we choose to stay busy, we choose to avoid our insecurities, we choose to avoid a vast and frightening unknown. And if we do manage to finally fend off the urge to avoid, and turn inwards, the ego suddenly finds itself vulnerable, and convinces us that we are missing out on something. It reminds us of an endless list of needs and desires that must be fulfilled at that very moment. But the ego is conniving, because in reality, our sadhana is filling us with a divine light that the ego and its demands can never give. It is giving us the miracle of spiritual evolution.
We must always try and recognize that it’s not all about this human life in this physical body, it’s about the spiritual life, the true self and its quest for love and bliss within an infinite experience. If we could only be aware of that during our daily lives, all the hardships, small or big, may not seem so bad after all.