Through The Looking Glass

“The new midlife is where you realize that even your failures make you more beautiful and are turned spiritually into success if you became a better person because of them. You became a more humble person. You became a more merciful and compassionate person.” ~ Marianne Williamson

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 I was reading a post on a friends social media, where she was going through a deep internal struggle related to the sequence of her entire life. Since I have been going through a similar internal conflict, I felt a sense of understanding, empathy and respect for the process.

What I found interesting, was that many of the comments were obviously trying to uplift her mood by stating profound spiritual truths and teachings. I found this such an intriguing circumstance of how we project all these highly idealistic perceptions of how we must face this inner process; through being in the moment and choosing to be happy right here, right now.

After reading all the very similar comments, I realize that unless one has been down this dark corridor, there is little to no comprehension of the process. The process of transformation, often can be very deep and excruciatingly painful. Even though you realize that some level of mental and emotional upliftment would be beneficial in this moment; often it’s not there to be found.

“Suffering is not enough. Life is both dreadful and wonderful…How can I smile when I am filled with so much sorrow? It is natural – you need to smile to your sorrow because you are more than your sorrow.” Thich Nhat Hanh

The process of having the outer ego removed and stripped away often provokes a disenchanting series of feelings. The person you were previously has radically shifted and the life you were striving to live, does not exist.

The axis of transformation is steep and can be something that is akin to a deep exfoliating of your skin, leaving it red and painful. It takes time for the new growth to take place and can not be ‘solved’, by some theoretical commentary.

We live in a society that does not allow or fully accept such inner transitions. There is a collective rule of having to continuously present a false sense of happy all the time, rather than show the deep suffering going on in that moment. If you are attempting to live life with greater awareness, you are doing your practice and allowing the process to flow.  Despite the fact your mind finds the content of the experience to be of a painful nature; it’s often necessary to facilitate the change that is needed.

“Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.” Rumi

Transformation does not have to be difficult or even painful, however most people walking this path find that it often will fall more into a painful category, rather than joyful. Of course, the after affect of such transition is a greater sense of peace and happiness due to having to fight with some aspect of our sense of expectation; having to eventually let it go.

When challenges comes, there is always a lesson to learned and eventually some shift in our perspective in life. Hence, if we never suffer in our own lives, how can be truly embody empathy towards others suffering.

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A Life to Be Lived

“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man’s-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again. ” Pema Chodron

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When you sincerely seek to live a spiritual life, be sure to make sure that you are strong enough to handle the extreme challenges that are sure to follow in your every wake and step. To truly be free of our inner negative tendencies, to be fully purified; we must be willing to confront everything within our consciousness, the layers upon layers of tendencies that we have accumulated throughout numerous lifetimes. We must be willing to go beyond this finite perception of ourselves, expand in awareness, only through extreme grace; to realize that we are not this illusion.

Of course, few of us are so close to perfection, instead we feel that we are filled to the max with an overabundance of ‘issues’ and other such aspects that we are becoming aware of. Once you start to dedicate a larger amount of time doing practice, it seems that the level of challenges increases exponentially. It is said that there are three ways of burning off karma; poverty, chronic illness, and sadhana. Most people have gone through at least one of the three in this life. However, the last one, sadhana, or spiritual practice is the key to finding a connection beyond the exterior of who we appear to be, to connect deep within, to the essence of existence. Even if this experience is very finite, it is still a profound point of stepping into the abyss of timelessness, into the infinite divine, to dissolve into a place that is beyond the reality that we find so believable.

I am not an advanced practitioner, I am a beginner; constantly returning to this place of newness, without anything to grasp onto. It seems that I am always at the beginning in life, even if I have reached points of height. One example is where I was advanced at Yoga asana for most of my life, however an arm injury brought me permanently back to being a beginner. I know the steep, jagged, and extremely painful road towards developing humility, where my ego has been grated along the most painful of terrain. The deeper my inner commitment towards searching for the Truth, the farther I seem to fall; endlessly into an abyss of timelessness, finding a sense of detachment, and expanding my awareness where I can fully understand the mechanisms that are so easily triggered. Its profound and beyond any linguistic explanation, to reach so high that you fall so far down. Yet, in that fall I have experienced an explosion of most, if not all of my negative tendencies.

“At some point, we need to stop identifying with our weaknesses and shift our allegiances to our basic goodness.” Pema Chodron

The path to purity and purification is a deep endless abyss where the most grotesque versions of ‘ourselves’ must be released from their bondage to our attachment, before the beauty of our inner Selves can be revealed. We are the one’s who inevitably imprison ourselves with our attachment to our fallible, inconclusive, problematic and erroneously static ‘identity’. Through this clinging, we close the door to true personal transformation and growth, for we have already created the variable narratives that we all use to structure the fabric of our social identity and life. We are social architects, constantly attempting to maintain the construction of who we envision ourselves to be or how we perceive ourselves to become. The real truth is that we are none of these projections or tendencies, yet since we rarely go within to a deeper and much quieter place; where we slowly start to see the facade and the underlying energy beneath it which is in contrast, very different, without qualities.

“Whatever is happening is the path to enlightenment.” Pema Chodron

It has been through such challenges that I have stepped through in my life, that have been the purifying gift that has allowed me to move closer to a sense of renewal. Even though, I am at the beginning once again, each step is a powerful walk towards a sense of awakening to who we truly are.

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