Tuesday, December 15, 2009
I experienced what I’d like to think of as a small miracle this weekend. We had an ice storm and there was black ice on the steps which I did not know about. Upon going down the steps like I would normally, I slipped and would have landed on the steps with at best a terrible bruise on my back where it had hit the edge of the sharp stone steps. However, I miraculously stopped mid-slip without any effort of my own. It was as if someone gently held me so I wouldn’t tumble down. In that moment, I realized how much pain I had escaped, not to mention the delay in my over scheduled day. I went about my business amazed and grateful for whatever stopped me from falling and feeling the pain. But it isn’t always like that.
What has been showing up in my own personal life, in my clients’ lives, and with my friends recently is the fact that living a conscious life hurts. This was the point I was trying to make in last week’s post. What some people may have imagined about spiritual evolution as being this journey to happy land where the “law of attraction” just brings all of the goodies we deserve and we are immune from feeling pain or getting angry is shattered into a million pieces when we embark on a real-life journey of consciousness expansion. Perhaps no one would go through it if they knew how painful the journey can be. I deliberately use the word, painful, because if I wrote “challenging”, it would imply a certain level of difficulty and then I’d be sending you into your head. Consciousness expansion is not an intellectual activity, it does not involve mental analysis, it involves feeling some of the most intense feelings that many of us have consciously or subconsciously chosen to avoid.
The resistance comes in many forms: “but I don’t want to feel angry”, “I am tired”, “I just want to be happy, peaceful, etc.”, “why can’t I be happy?”, and on and on it goes. We all want to be happy and we have learned to avoid the opposite of happy which can be depressed, sad, or angry. How does the avoidance manifest? Based on what is going on in our lives and our personalities, it could be: super-busy schedules (do anything and everything to not be aware of what we are avoiding), a numbness in our demeanor, alcohol, drugs, partying, taking it out on someone else, obsessive behavior like over-cleaning, etc. So, we all have coping mechanisms. We all know how to not look at the truth that is staring us down. We do this in our personal lives and we have collectively done this when it comes to our jobs, our government and its policies, and our planet. We have collectively looked away and found something else to focus on in order to avoid feeling the pain. In fact, we live extremely convenient lives. We don’t have to leave our homes or our cars anymore. Everything is available with a phone call or through the internet. All of this convenience has added to a sense of entitlement which makes feeling any kind of pain intolerable (no pun intended). I do not want to go into the why, but I do want to validate the how and the now.
The pain however, is what comes before the change, and sometimes right after. The pain is the validation that something is happening. The now is about the inconvenience of pain. The now is about the truth without any sugar coating. I always tell my clients-to-be, “this is not going to be fun and it might be kind of rough, are you sure you want to do this?” The answer is a resounding yes, until they hit the brick wall. This pain is especially uncomfortable, because when we are expanding and learning and practicing and it all is working so well, we think we have graduated. No more pain in my life. So, when it hurts, it feels like a failure, it undermines what we have learned and questions the whole journey and we feel like we are back at the first step. I am writing this somewhat unusual post, because I sense a strong need to let those who are experiencing pain and doubt as to why they have chosen to “grow” that this is a normal part of the experience. Please don’t run away, beat yourself up, or worse yet, give up. You will get through this and it will be quick if you don’t avoid the pain or the darkness. You will not crumble or die, you will get through it, but only in getting through it do you really experience it fully and find your own answers. The answers to some of our difficult questions are not somewhere in some book or with some guru. The answers are inside each and every one of us. The answers urge and cheer us on to get through the pain. The answers bring the joy and peace we have been looking for. Evolution hurts, that’s why we call it “growing pains”. As much as we’d like to freeze certain moments in time for eternity, life beckons us to grow and evolve and with that comes the inconvenience of pain.