By Thomas Tiernan
“We are all broken, that’s how the light gets in.” -Ernest Hemingway
Personal growth is often a destructive process. The dread of facing our own fears can lead to a vicious cycle of avoidance. Paradoxically, when you learn how to stop running from life’s inevitable problems, and mindfully face them head-on, you will find you are in greater control.
Your body, your mind and your surroundings are ever changing. It’s easy to apply labels of like or dislike to what’s happening both inside and around you. It is human nature to avoid what we don’t like and gravitate toward what we find pleasing. However, if we are willing to remain present, and not push away what we label as bad or difficult, we are then able to see past the pain and into the potential.
We are often taught to do what we can to avoid fear, rather than working through it. It may seem easier to resort to using alcohol, drugs, sex, food or any other activity that temporarily allows us to feel good. This type of avoidance adds layers of suffering that, when unresolved, will likely grow and perhaps even snowball. Learning to embrace dark times teaches us to work with the pain and see obstacles and woes for what they really are: potential growth opportunities.
Working with our inner pain takes us to the source of suffering so that it can be dealt with directly. Self reflection and meditation help us to move past what’s keeping us down, rather than masking or burying our hurts. The seemingly simple acts of sitting down, closing your eyes and having awareness of breath begins a journey of inward healing. Over time and with regular practice, meditation creates new neurological pathways in the brain that usher in new ideas, clarity and a deep understanding of why we are suffering in the first place. Practice paves the way for a more joy filled life.
Meditators are not exempt from the ups and downs of life, but taking the time to explore your inner world will most certainly make you less reactive and move positive. Then, instead of reaching for a vice, it may become easier to choose instead to close your eyes and turn within.
There can be no light without darkness. We must learn to see moments of discomfort as doorways to beautiful growth, not insurmountable walls. Just as a caterpillar moves inward, facing darkness and suffering to emerge as a butterfly, we humans are capable of turning inward to find what has been there all along; the Divine Soul.
In the words of the beloved Goswami Kriyananda, “meditate, meditate, meditate. Meditate daily and you will come to discover two truths: who you are and what you are becoming.”
Thomas teaches meditation every Tuesday at 5:00pm. He's also leading a FREE Meditation Forum on Monday, February 27th at 5:00pm.