Challenging times can fundamentally change us; in fact, that is what they are meant to do. The only time they do not is when we resist what is happening and fail to remain present. They support the transcendence of our current identity and open us up to new possibilities, but only if we let them.
We will suffer to the extent that we resist what is happening. However, when we see these circumstances for what they are instead of what our thoughts tell us about them, we will gain a new perspective. With this new perspective, our suffering will be diminished, end much sooner, and for some, stop instantly with this awareness.
You do not want to end up being the same person you thought you were before these events took place. Otherwise, you will become more anchored into your conditioned self, leading to more pain.
Know this truth; peace is never found by those who try to avoid life’s difficult times. Without this recognition, you will only see your troubles as unfavorable. And while there may be truth in your troubles, your experience of that truth does not have to be dictated by your thoughts about it. You can rise above them, which means everyone can, not just others who do not have YOUR problems.
Therefore, do not miss any opportunity that a challenging time might bring to you. And yes, it may be hard at first. You may even think it is impossible because you get caught in your pain and fear of the experience. In these times, we do not want to look or forget to look for the positive. We get lost in our endless thoughts, which tell us a story about our suffering, perhaps even how justified we are to remain in it.
We can feel like there is no way out, and we will always feel the way we do now. If you are alive, I presume you have already felt this way, perhaps more than once; I know I have. So based on your past experiences, is it true that you will always feel this way, or there is no way out?
Are you feeling that way right now? And if you are, have you looked for something other than suffering from your experience? Pain can ease with time, but it will rise again unless you find a way to be present with it. Therefore, do not let your fear or thoughts get in the way of you looking for something other than pain. Perhaps you will find something positive, even life-changing, from your challenging experiences, but you will never know if you do not look.
When the mind is still, the heart opens. When the heart is open, love flows freely. When love flows freely, our oneness is revealed. When our oneness is revealed, all suffering ends. When all suffering ends, the search ends. When the search ends, we have awakened. When we have awakened, no thought can disturb us. When no thought can disturb us, our mind is still.
Healing takes many forms, and we have already consciously experienced this many times in our lives. And I can say with great certainty that everyone has or will heal on every level of life; however, you will not always be conscious of every healing experience. Most of you have already forgotten many more than you will remember. Many will agree that the experiences that leave the deepest impressions seem to be the ones that hurt the most.
There are various ways of healing, for example, the quick fix. We want something that will take away our pain quickly and easily. The perceived miracle, in truth, all healing is a miracle. Life itself is a miracle. Then there is the long-haul, which is that injury or illness that will not or does not seem to want to go away. The long haul has much to teach us if we are willing to listen.
We usually think of the more common types of healing, like physical or emotional, perhaps even mental. However, we could include spiritual healing, which has to do with the spirit or the soul, and holistic healing, which includes the body, mind, and spirit.
Now it can be easy to get confused or distracted on the healing path. What helps pave the way is slowing down, patience, and persistence for the more complex and challenging. Of course, many factors are unique to the one having the experience. Staying in the present moment, awake and aware, helps keep us from getting confused or distracted. However, if this happens, remember that’s okay. Once you wake up to it, move forward without criticizing yourself. It is common to falter in this way or fall into our emotions when dealing with something traumatic. There is power and healing by feeling our emotions fully.
Often, we give up, ignore, or resist what is genuinely happening out of a combination of fear, frustration, and anger. Of course, we can have many different feelings during this time, particularly when faced with a long-haul healing experience. Not viewing the reality of our current situation only leads to suffering and the inability to see a path forward.
Healing does not always happen in the way we want or expect. When this occurs, it does not mean that our healing is any less impactful. In fact, it is precisely what needs to happen, or it would not be happening. Therefore, it is essential to remain open to your experience even when things do not seem to go your way. Why? Because if we pay attention and remain open, we can find opportunities in the problems we face. I know that sometimes it does not feel that way, but I have seen it repeatedly.
It feels this way because you are stuck in resistance. Therefore, look for fear, frustration, or anger. Use your awareness to take an honest inventory of what you are feeling and thinking. What is your state, and where are your thoughts focused? Growth, healing, and change will present themselves in these situations. And grace is always present when we are in the moment with what is.
I have found that significant transformation comes during the most challenging times in our life. Verify this for yourself by looking back at your own life. Can you remember a difficult time, that after weathering the storm, you came out the other side better for it? Did you learn something about yourself, life, or others? Did you heal in some unexpected way?
So, it is those situations that we find uncomfortable or do not like that can offer us something life-changing if we are paying attention. Remaining open to possibility gives us the best chance for achieving our desired outcome. Without an open heart and a willingness to go through the tough stuff, we limit our possibilities, slow the healing process, and suffer more than is needed.
Long-term or long-haul challenges require an unbending intention. Many years ago, I injured my back at the age of 16 and then again more severely in my 20’s. After living in pain for years, a neurologist told me I would never get better. The doctors said I would live in pain for the rest of my life, and I would have to learn how to manage it. It was hard to hear for sure, but I would not be where I am today if I had adopted those words in my life as the truth. They set me on a path to healing and helping others heal because I did not take them as fact. That bad news ended up becoming an opportunity that changed my life for the better. Now 64, I have followed my unbending intention to heal for over 33 years. Because of this commitment, I continue to reap the rewards and have proved the doctors wrong. I cannot even begin to tell how much this journey has positively impacted every area of my life. Therefore, even if I had not become pain-free, it still would be a gift that keeps on giving in my life on every level.
Remember to have patience and take your time. I know when you are in pain, you want to be free from it now. So, we look for a quick fix, and then we move too fast. Or we fall into resistance. We try to ignore what is happening. We need to be honest with ourselves and face the truth of what is going on. We need to slow down. In these states, we stop listening to our intuition and divine guidance. We fail to do the proper research and make good choices. I understand that sometimes there are no other options, but you may miss something you need if you are moving too quickly. Be open to opportunities that may come in unexpected ways. And expect them to come! If you do not look for opportunities, how will you find them?
Remember that whatever is happening is happening, whether you like it or not. As hard as that may be to hear, feel or experience, it is the truth of your life. And when we face the truth of the moment, grace steps in and supports us. Life unfolds in new and different ways. Ways that we could not see before and we can experience joy and peace again in our life. Even when our desires are not fulfilled, we can still be happy and loving.
Over the last many years, I asked myself what sort of a person I would love to become. Always the answer as to the kind of person that I aspire to become has been the same one, every time I asked. And that was: I want to become someone who Loves. Plain and simple as that. I want to become someone who Loves. How may I go about this journey to become someone who Loves Tim? I am willing to learn, read, study, and do whatever it takes to become such a person. It’s one of my life’s greatest dreams and desires.
“If you want to be someone who loves, then be loving. What special training or study would you have to do to become loving? There is no magic bullet. Allow your actions, words, and deeds to be loving. And when they are not, be aware of that and make amends and then do better next time. This is the only true path.
Start by loving yourself as you are now, not how you want to be or think you should be. If you cannot do that, how can you be loving to others? How can you love them as they are?”
When faced with something in your life that you do not like, rather than immediately resisting, take pause and rest assured that whatever is happening is happening for you and not against you. I understand that you may feel that it is wrong and that it should not be happening. However, you may not have taken time to see or feel anything other than your egos dislike for it and immediately rebelled. When we sit in resistance to the present moment, it is impossible to stand in awareness, and without awareness, it is impossible to see the truth.
You may have already experienced this in your life, perhaps many times. Where you resisted an experience, and then one day after the fact, you looked through the eyes awareness and saw the positive effect it had on you. However, at the time, this was not possible because you were too busy battling with what was taking place.
The level of awareness required to see the truth was there all along but not available until you let go of your resistance. Once you did, you fell back into peace again, or a more comfortable space, albeit for some, this is very short-lived, lasting only until the next event.
Pause, find connection and choose peace rather than harm when you feel overwhelmed in the crashing ocean of life. – Cuong Lu
The harm we cause can be towards others or ourselves and levied through thought and deed. Unfortunately, most of the time, this harm is toward ourselves. However, it is always due to a lack of awareness.
If we are aware, we can notice it in the moment, and if not, we may still be fortunate enough to see it after some time passes. However, on too many occasions, it goes unnoticed, which can cause problems for us, either emotionally, physically, or both. Not to mention the consequences it can have on our relationships with others.
The impact on our personal lives can happen immediately, or multiple events can build on each other, leading to a very uncomfortable body, illness, sleep problems, emotional issues, or other disorders. For example, have you ever been upset with someone and gotten a headache or became sick to your stomach? Maybe you think this is no big deal, or you believe that this is just how you are because it has been happening for years. If it happens repeatedly, it could be missed as the underlying cause of your health issue or emotional state since it seems normal to you.
There are many ways to deepen your awareness. Therefore, I will not go to great lengths in this post. However, like a muscle, regular use will make it stronger. A good starting point is to pay closer attention to your thoughts and your actions. Are they unkind at times? Are you easily distracted when you try to pay attention to your thoughts? What does your mind say to you when you try to pay attention? How does your body feel when you are upset or try to pay closer attention to your thoughts? Have you ever noticed? Or is it hard to do anything else but feel your body during these experiences?
Please keep it simple to start with and allow grace to guide you. Do not solely rely on your intellect and knowledge for this guidance because for many, it keeps them stuck in mind. Know that intention gives awareness direction and is the spark. Therefore, make a clear and unbending intention to deepen your awareness, and you cannot fail. Failure is impossible unless you begin to believe what the mind is telling you without awareness. And remember to reach out for support if you need it. That is not a sign of weakness but a higher level of awareness.
Much of your life is spent thinking; even when you wish it would stop, it doesn’t, does it? We tend to think about how we feel too, which, of course, is not feeling at all — it’s thinking.
Through thought, our mind tells us that it is too uncomfortable to feel our feelings. We then get caught in a loop of thought about how painful we feel without ever really exploring our feelings. We can even have body sensations that confirm our thoughts about it. This tendency of the mind leads us down an exhaustive path of pain and suffering.
The truth is we must begin to notice this ploy of the mind to break free of it and then feel our feelings fully. However uncomfortable that may be—resisting them leads to a much lengthier healing process and an increased level of suffering.
Feelings are energy, and as such, they must keep flowing. Resisting them means we hold onto them, and the energy gets stuck in our body, which can cause physical pain and even illness.
Recognizing this truth or knowing it on an intellectual level is not enough; you must have a direct experience to embody this truth. We often end up stopping short on the spiritual path and in life of realizing this because the mind tells us that we know it already, whatever it is. Then we get distracted by thought again and sent down another path without ever having a direct experience. The mind has endless offers to distract us, and many of us can spend our whole life seeking and not finding. How many years or decades have you been looking?
Therefore, the next time you find yourself suffering, notice if you are in your head and having a conversation with yourself. Bring your attention down to your chest, the heart area, and notice that your thoughts begin to slow down. Then focus even more attention there and begin to feel your feelings. They literally are your friend and not something to fear. Know that the mind will try to stop you through thought, physical sensation, and intensity.
Be with your feelings, let whatever needs to arise, and let the energy flow again—knowing that you are entirely safe. Some of you may feel the energy flowing along with the emotion, and some may not. Either way is perfect. Do not let the mind come in and question whether you are doing it right or not; it is just another distraction. Keep your attention in the chest. If you are guided by the feeling to another part of the body, follow it. Just stay with your feelings and keep breathing. If it feels too overwhelming, you have the power to slow it down or stop it at any time.
The mind may tell you otherwise, but I can assure you this is the most loving thing you can do for yourself and your body. You are the only one who can offer yourself this kind of unconditional love. We have all felt someone’s love for us being taken away before because it was not unconditional. However, once you feel this kind of self-love, you will know it can never be taken away by anyone. Therefore, do not be afraid to feel your feelings because what is often disguised as pain can blossom into something beautiful if you let it.
“When we rely only on our knowledge and intellect for our view of life, we often fall short of seeing the truth. From this place, it is easy to only see the world, albeit unintentionally, through a biased lens. The mind then supports this bias through thought, and it replays these thoughts repeatedly until they become our truth. We then fight for what we believe to be right without seeing this bias. The mind convinces us we are fighting for truth; we are fighting for what is right.”
Remember that awareness is not just about noticing what is going on around you but also what is going on within you. The mind will use thought to distract you and tell you that something more important is going on out there. What is essential to uncover is not what is happening out there but what arises within you. We must notice how our thoughts guide us unconsciously. The only way to do this is through awareness. Remember that Grace supports us always, so there is nothing to fear. If you want to be free from worry, stress, and anxiety, use awareness more consciously.
Please test this out for yourself and pay attention to your thoughts throughout the day as often as possible. Do not let your mind tell you otherwise until you try it.
Notice when you get lost in thought and how the mind distracts you repeatedly. As you exercise your awareness muscle, it will become more robust, and through this newfound strength, we anchor more into the present moment.
“We see space as what separates us from everyone and everything. But what if space is what holds everything together; what if it connects everything.
Know that sometimes what we believe to be true is not the truth at all. What is true is that if we never question our beliefs, then our misguiding beliefs are sure to create pain and suffering in our lives. So whether you believe that space is what separates us or connects us, we must begin to question our beliefs. Inquiry at this level always leads to a greater understanding of who we are and the world around us—bringing more peace and comfort into our lives and those lives that we touch.”