This topic came up with nearly every client I had this week so it felt appropriate to share here and to further dive in. As we walk along the spiritual path and commit to the deep internal work of healing we begin to experience things in very different ways. Ways that most people won’t understand therefore we find ourselves holding these experiences within our own hearts. We experience deep peace and a sense of connection that is difficult to explain with words. As we sit in a class, a workshop or in our own practice these beautiful and magical moments arise and we have the sense that All Is Well, we are gifted with inexplicable truths and we have a deeper understanding of what it means to be peaceful, content and happy.
And then…we walk back into our life and we are surrounded by people that have not had these same experiences. They do not do the same work, they do not think the same way. Most often these are people that we love deeply; our spouses, our children, our family and our dearest friends. We are also faced with the challenge of those that we don’t feel a deep love for; the people that challenge us or just people that we encounter living our lives. The truth is that in the world that we currently live within, most people have never even considered this work that we do. Most don’t have any understanding of what we experience as we dive deep into the stillness and the silence.
I was first introduced to this work 25 years ago so I have walked a long path of integration and it has not always been easy. I used to look at my life and all of the people as an obstacle to my spiritual work. I used to think that if only I could disappear to an Ashram for a few months all of my problems would be solved and my heart would be healed. I traveled with this story for many years and it only caused me pain and suffering. As with all things in our lives we have the choice on how to view the world around us and it is that view that shapes the world within us. We get to choose how to think about what is happening in our every day lives, we choose how to experience people and situations. When we learn to operate from a space of mindfulness we develop the ability to pause and to be with our thoughts and our emotions prior to reacting and this pause gives us space to consider truths about what is transpiring in our everyday. We come to understand who we are and how we are being.
Instead of looking at people and situations as obstacles we can choose to look at them as opportunities. Opportunities to practice. It took me a long time to understand that my practice was not just when I was sitting in meditation or on my yoga mat. The practice has to be an active part of our every day lives. It was when I finally understood this concept that things began to shift for me in some incredible ways. For me it was the simple practice of mindfulness in my daily life that finally introduced me to a new way of being. I had been meditating for many years but would still find myself easily agitated or struggling with feelings of depression. With mindfulness I learned to observe what was happening all around and within without judgement or criticism. It was in the observation that I was gifted with what I didn’t even know that I was lacking…contentment. It is a special experience to simply BE with what IS. I am reminded of one of the first books that touched me deeply, “Loving What Is” by Byron Katie. Even though I read this book in my mid twenties and at the time it had a powerful impact, I didn’t fully understand it or have the ability to fully integrate it until many years later.
I say this over and over again…this is a journey. It is a journey of realization, a journey of becoming, a journey of remembering who we really are and why we are really here. It is an inside job and no one can do it for you. Spiritual guides and communities are simply here to support and hold space; only you can answer the call of your own heart. Only you can make the choice to see things in a different way. Only you can decide whether someone or something is an obstacle or an opportunity. I can share from years of experience that this simple shift of perspective completely altered my relationship with my own journey. It completely changed the way that I was able to view my life and I became capable of fully integrating the work and my practice.
We aren’t meant to escape this world or the people in it. We are meant to integrate the work into our lives with the people that we love deeply and those that we haven’t yet learned to love deeply. We are meant to be challenged. The sooner that we allow opportunity to become more prevalent in our own minds than obstacles the sooner we allow for freedom and contentment within our own hearts. We then learn to live IN this world as awakened beings of light and love and we are able to hold space for those that are unable for themselves. We are able to truly SERVE from a space of wholeness. It is a practice each and every day for every one of us and some days are easier than others. It is always the anchor of our own practice that brings us back to the peace and contentment within our own hearts. That place is always there within…waiting for your to remember.