Life sure has its ups and downs and often we think to ourselves why me? Why do I have to go through this pain, this horrible experience? Years ago I learned to say why not me? Some of my biggest struggles have taught me so much, they have made me wiser, stronger, sometimes more ethical and often in hindsight grateful for the experience. Hindsight is such a great teacher, we look back over the years, our experiences and past relationships, and we clearly see why we needed that experience to move forward.
So often get stuck in anger, resentment and the inability to move beyond our past that we become like a swamp; stagnant, murky, with unseen dark things below the surface. In yoga we often use the lotus flower as a symbol. The reason we do this is because the lotus flower forms below the murky surface of the swamp and then rises above the surface to blossom. There is a stark contrast between the dark waters of the swamp and the beauty of the blossom. It is a reminder to all of us that sometimes during our darkest times a beautiful flower is growing and will soon bloom. It also reminds us to stay pure during these times to rise above the drama of life and continue to grow stronger and more loving despite the surroundings.
When I think about the last 2 few years of my life, I have been in some of the darkness places of my mind. My husband had cancer and he lost the battle against it, it devastated me, I wasn’t sure I wanted to live without him. During his illness I worked hard supporting us, being his caregiver and taking on all the responsibilities of our lives. At night I would be exhausted and sleep would come to me slowly as my brain would play out all the possibilities of his illness. The next day I would get up and start all over again. So often it felt as if I was treading those murky waters, struggling to stay afloat and trying to feel the presence of divine energy in my life.
I share this with you because some of you are in that place right now, either because of sickness, lack of control at work, an abusive relationship or just lack of understanding. Each and every one of us at some point and more often several points of our life, is faced with personal crisis and the inability to see our way out of it clearly. Sometimes we make choices to stay in painful situations longer then we want, as we figure out how to create our path of happiness. This could be a job that is no longer serving your highest good, but you have a few years left until you pension out. Maybe you are waiting for your children to leave home before you make that decision to leave. In the end the choices are yours and yours alone to make.
But never forget the value of experience, as a runner I know that hills can be exhausting to run but at the top of the hill is often the best view. Hills also make us a stronger runner and better prepared for our next race which invariably has a hill in it. At the top of a hill I will often stop, look back and even take a quick picture of how far I have come. Struggles can be like that. While I will never be grateful for the loss of my husband I will always be grateful for the experiences I shared with him while he was ill. The amazing talks, the moments of love, the gentle touches between us.
I can also share that during those years something was growing within me. Qualities such as patience, compassion, tenderness and love, were growing deeper roots and now have begun to blossom within me. While my husband was ill I wrote pocket guides on happiness, finding quiet, love and other subjects. Writing them has led me to a new place in my career. I am also so much stronger, the roots grew deep and have made me more stable, more sure of myself and calmer. Knowing I have strong roots has made it possible for me walk calmly through some of the storms of life and not be blown away. In the end I know now that I can survive, flourish and be a relatively happy person no matter what.
So I guess I am saying is, why not you? Don’t you want to grow, flourish and be like the lily? Don’t you want to know how amazing you really are? It’s the tough times that often force us inward to reorganize the cluttered cupboards of our mind, they make us appreciate the sunshine and help us to better connect with divine energy. Today as I run this long slow hill called grief, I take moments to look around me and see the beauty of my life. I have met new people on this hill and know that they have come into my life because I am ready now, ready only because I am a better person.
So as I end this I give to you just some of my tools for staying calm in the sea of life. Meditate, give back, thank the universe for your day (no matter what), do some yoga, hug a tree, help someone else, be grateful, walk your dog and most of all know that “this too shall pass”, being in a dark place often makes us feel like we have always and will always be there. This is not true, it is one of the lies our mind tells us. Say to yourself this too shall pass and one day you will find yourself sharing with someone about how you grew from your experience, and you will passing the torch of hope to that person.
Years ago I planted a flower garden that seemed to take forever to grow, one day I called my mother to complain about this slow growing garden. She said to me “Honey, the roots go down before the flowers grow. “