"Every spiritual life entails a succession of difficulties because every ordinary life also involves a succession of difficulties, what the Buddha described as the inevitable sufferings of existence. In a spiritually informed life, however, these inevitable difficulties can be the source of our awakening, of deepening wisdom, patience and compassion. Without this perspective, we simply bear our sufferings like an ox or a foot soldier under a heavy load. Like the young maiden in the fairy tale "Rumpelstiltskin" who is locked in a room of straw, we often do not realize that the straw all around us is gold in disguise. The basic principle of spiritual life is that our problems become the very place to discover wisdom and love". Jack Kornfield.
I can relate to this entirely, for me life - like so many I am sure - has provided many difficulties, which have served as opportunities for awakening and discovering more wisdom and indeed love. This pregnancy has not been without its on going challenges and there have been many moments when I have had to laugh in the face of despair at the manner in which the opportunities for growth - in a spiritual and heart-felt level - have presented themselves to me. The very fact I have not been able to numb myself through alcohol or running away, has been a blessing in terms of the awareness I have instead been able to gain.
Like many others I have spent much of my life trying to avoid difficulties and running away from them when they do appear, and yet now I see how much we should welcome them into our lives for the messages, teachings and experience they provide. Whether others can sense a change I do not know, but I feel a change within me, especially this last year, with all the challenges E and I have faced to try to make dreams into realities.
Reading Jack Kornfield's book, "A Path with Heart" has been a joy, the timing has been impeccable as these usually are and I have taken much comfort from his words. He writes:
"The Tibetan Buddhist tradition instructs all beginning students in a practice called Making Difficulties into the Path. This involves consciously taking our unwanted sufferings, the sorrows of our life, the struggles within us and the world outside, and using them as a ground for nourishment of our patience and compassion, the place to develop grater freedom and our true Buddha nature. Difficulties are considered of such great value that a Tibetan prayer recited before each step of practice actually asks for them:
Grant that I may be given appropriate difficulties and sufferings on this journey so that my heart may be truly awakened and my practice of liberation and universal compassion may be truly fulfilled. In this spirit, the Persian poet Rumi writes about a priest who prays for thieves and muggers on the streets. Why is this?
Because they have done me such generous favours.
Every time I turn back towards the things they want
I run into them. They beat me ad leave me
in the road, and I understand again, that what they want
is not what I want.
Those that make you return, for whatever reason,
to the spirit, be grateful to them.
Worry about the others who give you
delicious comfort that keeps you from prayer."
It is so true, as ever Rumi is an inspired soul, awakened indeed.
I find this all rather fascinating actually, especially when it comes to the world of teaching Yoga and witnessing the energy of students and their comings and goings from class. Some are very committed, making an appearance week in and week out. Others come when they need the support and then drop off when life sorts itself out again, some come and then find that it is all too much, the spiritual side, the time with themselves, the awakening, that they turn their back and go to sleep again, and others more, just can't seem to break through the door, despite being drawn, time and time again.
For many years I have wanted to make it better for people, to take away their pain, but I have learnt over the years that you cannot take away others pain, you can not remove their difficulties and their sufferings, caretaking for them so that actually you end up exhausting yourself (and on an extreme, as I have witnessed with a number of holistic practitioners, focusing all your energy on trying to save others so you don't have the time to look at your own pain and suffering) in the process. No, that doesn't work, not in the long term, we have to do the work ourselves, we have to sit with our pain and suffering.
That is not to say I cannot help. We can all help on some level. Just being there can help. As can teaching Yoga and sharing what we may have learned from our own life experiences, from the difficulties we have faced, from the practices we have learned that may help to ease and indeed let go of the pain. Yoga. That's my thing. Yoga has been transforming for me on so many levels. Healing. Inspiring. Awakening. Energising. It has opened up a whole new bright, wonderful world to me. I want to share it with everyone, to help everyone to feel this sense of connectedness to self and to the greater whole. But everyone has their way, and it is not my place to preach or judge or push onto someone else.
It has been a busy time and I am delighted that the Aries full moon has now passed and we are waning down. It is a lovely time of release and letting go, a gentle energy that means I can now sleep!! It was a powerful moon and I would encourage you to read all about it - there is a link through the "Beinspired Yoga" facebook page. Really fascinating for me as I can see so clearly how many people's lives are in tune with the moon's energy, which means we all have quite an exciting few months ahead to the end of the year. Change really is happening, on quite a deep level too.
As the full moon wanes, so too am I! With 4 weeks to go until the bean is due I am intending to start calming down my responsibilities so that I can retreat a little before our life truly changes. The nursery is almost ready, I spent much of this week putting together furniture and shifting things, not sure my back appreciated it, we even have a baby friendly car now, it is all coming together! The bean is really rather active, but then so was I in utero and actually not much has changed, so I am preparing myself for many energetic years ahead! We shall see. It is difficult to now how it will be, one just go with the flow. We are both longing to take flight and hope the bean is a traveller too, Nepal is calling more than ever, but one has to be realistic about travelling to Asia with a little bean in tow.
Here in Guernsey we managed a few dips in the sea the last few days, gosh it is warmer than one expects, lovely high tides at Petit Bot, no one else around, nude changing, just love the sense of freedom. Car cleaning, nesting in the house, autumn tidying, and making space for the new to come in. So let us see what this week brings in the aftermouth of the Aries full moon, all rather exciting.
With love and much gratitude.