Spiritual practice and self growth can come in many forms. All too often they can be disguised as easy work, like buying a book, taking a course, or even downloading an app.
But, if you've made any real progress working on yourself, you know that it all comes down to real life situations. And not the easy ones either.
The rubber meets the road when life gets hard.
When fear creeps in, are you going to work with it, or let it destroy you? When uncertainty is the only thing around you, do you cave in, or embrace the unknowing? When life kicks you, will you blame your surroundings, or will you get back up and take responsibility?
These are all questions you ought to ask yourself, and more importantly, find answers to in the midst of challenge.
It's all too easy to fall into the trap of reading books, taking courses, attending seminars, and talking about the things that make us better. But we know that just like talking about a push-up, our bodies are not going to improve unless we do a push-up. It's the same with any form of working on yourself, whether it be your outer world, or your inner world.
We grow through resistance. No, not the resistance I usually talk about, which is when we resist reality. But rather, when reality seems to resist us, how do we respond? Do we step up, in whatever form that takes, and arise to the challenge?
Stepping up can take may forms - it might mean working with your negative thoughts as they arise. It might mean being present while the body is in physical pain. It might take the form of practicing patience with your loved one.
Whatever the form, our growth depends on our ability to respond to life with an outlook that welcomes anything.
Our work is never complete, either. We've never "made it." We're only where we are now, with the tools we have at our disposal. What worked for us fifteen years ago may not work for us today. Today, this moment, is different than yesterday, and will most certainly be different than tomorrow.
But our attitude amidst life can be the same. It can be oriented towards growth, towards welcoming life in all its shapes and sizes. Much like we don't want to discriminate against other people, let's also not discriminate against particular moments. If you think about it, we all discriminate on a daily, almost moment to moment basis.
When we don't like what's happening around us, we default to discrimination against the present moment.
The rubber meets the road when we catch ourselves discriminating. Will we brush it aside and continue to let our autopilot guide us? Or will we use the force of our will to step in and say, "hello discrimination, interesting that you showed up here. Feel free to stay, but I won't be paying attention to you today."
True growth in life happens in those difficult moments, and specifically, in our response to them. Are you having a hard time right now? Well then, time to grow. Whenever a disturbance shows up, simply remember it's time to grow.
Live with substance!