As someone who spent over half of her life dealing with anxiety, and feelings of self-doubt and unworthiness, I think a lot about what creates happiness, joy, fulfillment, and ease in one's life.
What I know for sure is that life, for everyone, includes contrast, or, as yoga calls it, opposites.
This is because life as we see it is a steady flow of continuous change. In other words, nothing stays the same. That includes our thoughts, emotions, moods, body, relationships, where we live, what we drive, who we spend our time with... every single thing changes.
This can cause a lot of suffering for us if we aren't also aware of our bigger nature.
Enter your spiritual practice.
For years I thought my spiritual practice was designed to protect me from anxiety, doubts, and disappointments. I thought it would somehow save me from experiencing changes (at least the ones I didn't like or want) in my life. In other words, I thought I would figure out how to get my life exactly as I wanted it to be, and then it was supposed to stay that way--forever.
But life isn't like that. Nothing stays the same. Change is constant and inevitable. So our spiritual practice isn't designed to protect us from all of the changes that occur in the material world or our physical life. It doesn't provide us with a quick fix or a way out of pain, where everything is always perfect, clear, and easy, because the contrast is part of every human experience.
What our spiritual practice does give us is a way out of suffering. Through our spiritual practice, we can strengthen our connection and communication with our higher Self, which always provides us a way to stay steady and strong while moving through life's ups and downs and twists and turns.
Our higher self can help us see life from a broader perspective where we can loosen our grip on life as we think it must be at any given moment to be happy or at peace.
It helps us understand that in any situation and circumstance there is always value--which simply means an opportunity to learn, grow and expand our awareness of who we truly are and how to improved life experience from within ourselves.
Maybe that means we grow more compassionate, or more kind, softer, forgiving, humble, and so on. Maybe it means that we grow in a way that allows us to make changes or take action where we couldn't before.
There are so many things we simply can't understand right now. But if we have a spiritual practice that helps us grow roots in something greater than that which we can see and that which is always changing, then we can learn how to heal and even love in a bigger way. We can experience joy, happiness, and peace from within ourselves--because those qualities are part of our true nature.
The ongoing practice of growing stronger
Spend time each day in silence. As you do, simply breathe and become aware of the space between your inhale and the exhale. Continue this for several more minutes and when you notice your mind wandering gently guide it back to the still points, or the pause, between every inhale and exhale. In that space is your power. In that space is your peace. In that space is your ability to see life differently, respond in a new way, and grow stronger in who you truly are.
The next time you experience disappointment, pain, heartbreak, or any other form of change and uncertainty, stop and breathe. Feel the space between every breathe. Your steady ground of being, the eternal all-knowing you, is right there guiding you.
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