Our difficulties and tests are like the weight lifter’s weights that help him to build up his muscular power. By exercising our inner power in response to these challenges, we develop our emotional, mental and spiritual muscles. We become emotionally stronger and mentally more positive and assured of our ability to face any possible situation.
Here are some concepts that will help us to grow through our life experiences:
1. Perceive life as a school.
2. Remember that every experience is a lesson designed to teach us something about our selves and the nature of reality.
3. Remember that life gives us exactly the lessons we need in every moment.
4. Discover which lessons life is trying to teach us. Richard Bach, in his book Illusions reminds us that a “problem never comes to you without a gift in its hands”. Our life-challenge is to fearlessly study our problems and discover the gifts therein.
5. Determine what changes we need to make in our living or thinking habits in order to become free from this problem or, in some cases, to realize that there actually is no problem.
We can ask ourselves these questions:
a. What must I let go of? (Habits, emotional tendencies, addictions, attachments, fears, expectations, attitudes, beliefs.)
b. What can I begin to develop? (Positive beliefs, disciplines, attitudes, abilities.)
c. Is there actually any problem here or I am making it into a problem?
6. Decide how we can start making these changes so as to once again find peace, health and harmony.
7. Accept that only we ourselves can solve this problem, otherwise its solution is of no use to us. We can take advice from our doctor, psychiatrist, clergyman or guru, but it is up to ourselves to make the actual changes. It is our responsibility as well as our opportunity.
The difference between the pessimist and the optimist is that the pessimist sees the problem in every opportunity and the optimist sees the opportunity in every problem.
WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM ILLNESS
I remember a story told by Dr. Jayadeva of the YOGA INSTITUTE OF BOMBAY.
“Once an enlightened being was asked ‘Who was your guru?’ He answered, ‘Sinusitis.’ The enlightened one went on to explain that in order to free himself of his sinusitis he had to change his diet completely. Then he started doing exercises and breathing techniques to purify and remove the stresses from his body that intensified the problem. After that, he started practicing deep relaxation and meditation in order to quiet the mind and nervous system, which seemed to be at the root of the sinusitis. Finally, he had to completely alter his understanding of himself and the world around him, so as to remove the basic causes of imbalance in his body and mind. As a result of all these efforts and changes, his body and mind became so purified and in tune with the Spirit, he became enlightened.”
Some possible lessons we might learn from illness are:
1. To improve our diet: Choose to eat healthier foods in proper quantities, so the body and mind will be strengthened and able to function effectively and clearly, biologically, mentally and spiritually.
2. To adopt healthier living habits: Learn to exercise, breathe and relax regularly, so as to create a body that has the strength to protect itself from microbes and various malfunctionings.
3. To analyze and correct any negative thought patterns that may create emotional, mental or physical blockages.
4. To learn to be more humble and compassionate through this rather humbling position in which we are temporarily weak, vulnerable, and perhaps even dependent upon others.
5. To learn to accept, love and care from others: Some of us cannot accept affection or even simple compliments from others. We always want to be on the giving side. This can sometimes be based on egotistic motives.
6. To think more deeply about the meaning of life: Why are we here? What is the purpose of life?
7. To reexamine our goals and value system: What do we want from life? What is important to us? Are we living in such a way as to achieve our goals?
8. To develop mental powers of positive thought projection so as to send healing energies into the various parts of our body and heal it.
9. To take a more active role in the creation of our health, happiness and harmony. Only we can create our illness and health.
10. To surrender to God’s will. Although we do everything we need to do in order to create health, we must also be able to accept whatever the results may be in order to unite our will with the Divine Flow.
11. To concentrate more on our contact with the Divine through prayer and meditation.
12. To realize that we are not this body and begin to dis-identify from it, feeling ourselves as an immortal spirit.