Once you start down the path of spiritual development, the challenges will come. At first those challenges feel like tidal waves washing away all sense of stability and security. You can be left feeling like there is no ground beneath your feet.
When the waves start to calm down, you might think you are in the clear: that only blue skies lie ahead. But this is a false hope. We are here to learn and grow, and we do so by facing and overcoming challenges.
What I have noticed about the challenges over time, is that my perception is changing when the waves descend. I am noticing that each situation that I initially react to as a problem or loss, turns out, with time and patience, to be a blessing. If I can stay as neutral as possible when the challenge arises, if I can avoid becoming attached to the outcome, if I can resist taking it personally, and if I can be patient and watchful as events unfold—then I will learn that I am observing the Universe washing away something that no longer serves me in my spiritual development.
Navigating the crashing waves takes persistent redirection of thought, loving kindness and compassion towards Self, and cultivation of a deep and abiding trust in Spirit. It also takes a willingness to look at why we feel suffering at the change before us. Is it because we fear we will lose something that we have come to rely on for our happiness? If so, this is an opportunity to cultivate this ‘something’ within ourselves.
For example, when a relationship ends it can be hard to face the idea of losing the feeling of being in love. It feels really wonderful to be in love. But actually, it is a false notion to think that the love came from the other person: the love came from within yourself. Moreover, you can bring up this feeling of love inside of yourself anytime you want to feel it—it can simply be the feeling without any object of affection associated with it. This feeling belongs to you. It was your experience, and it is yours to keep forever, whether the person who inspired the feeling is around or not.
Perhaps you’ve lost a job that you depended upon for your income (a job you dreaded waking up to every day). Now, rather than feeling abundant and cared for, you feel fearful and anxious. But what if you trusted that this job was swept away because a better opportunity, one that aligns more closely with your Divine purpose, is near at hand? Which approach creates less suffering? Which approach opens your mind to perceive possibilities for next steps? Which approach creates the kind of energy you want to attract to yourself (considering the Law of Attraction)?
Once we cultivate the ability to feed ourselves the experiences that we crave from people and things outside of ourselves, we develop resiliency towards the challenges of life. We are not at the shoreline anymore where waves are crashing down. We are further out to sea, still bobbed about by life’s relentless motion, but not thrown quite so far and wide. And sometimes, we are even grateful that the wave swept away the cobwebs and washed the slate clean for new possibilities.