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Surviving Hardship Through Gratitude
Hard times are a stranger to no one. Did you know they can be your greatest teacher in life?
When we go through difficulties, it is so easy to fall into the trap of fighting with our own lives. With hardship often comes a feeling of darkness, and we think that if we fight against the darkness, it will move us towards the light. We think that by fighting darkness, we are doing something positive for ourselves and maybe even others. So we brace ourselves for battle. We adopt a grim determination Ďagainst all oddsí and become rigid, thinking it somehow makes us strong.
What we donít realize is that by fighting against the darkness, we are actually inviting the darkness in. We are giving it energy. Even worse, we are giving it ourselves as a target. By becoming grim, you cut yourself off from the light. By becoming rigid, you give up the ability to bend and sway, to move with the storm like a willow in the wind. It is precisely the lack of rigidity that allows the willow to survive.
My teachers, forty-four women healers from five different continents, always say that when darkness comes, you honor it for the lessons it has come to teach you on your pathway towards enlightenment. You honor the darkness, but you do not become the darkness. Instead, you light a candle for it and ask it to teach you. Then you turn to the light to illuminate your pathway through the difficulty.
In the shamanís world view, you donít fight against anything. Instead, you become what it is you are seeking.
So when darkness comes, you become the light. When difficulties arise, you become the solution. Actually imagine what it feels like to be in the solution instead of wallowing in the problem. Then allow that feeling to come into you, and become it.
As you do, you feel your heart expanding and you become grateful for all of the things that are actually right in your life. You move into gratitude. Gratitude energizes you; it is a state of being which is filled with strength, wisdom and all the courage you need to move through hardship in an enlightened, intended way.
You become the solution by being conscious and fully present in the moment. When you are fully present in the moment, you discover a quality of being alert which I understand as coming from your very life force. This quality is not something you are likely to understand with your mind, which is probably desperately engaged in what it believes to be a life and death struggle with your problem. So leave the mind to Ďfigure outí your problem and instead, follow this alertness with your awareness.
If you let it, the energy and vision of being present and alert in the moment will move you into your own life force. This is when you realize that at your center, you are one with the Great Spirit and all of life. God is not something which is outside of you. God is within you and part of you, just as you are part of and within God. And you know that there is no greater power in the world than life force, which is God.
When you are one with the Great Spirit, you have transcended the dimensions of your ordinary life and are in your own higher consciousness, where your vision is unlimited. Now you can actually begin to see what it is you can do to change the circumstances of your hardship and create a positive solution.
Try this next time you feel weighed down by hardship and negativity. Sit in silence and allow your mind to empty of all its distractions. Sit in silence and meditate, or simply sit still until you find yourself moving toward a state of grace. You may have to try this a few times before it begins to work. Thatís OK. Just stay with it. You can do this.
As you sit in silence and empty yourself of distractions, you begin to find the alertness I just spoke of. Follow it to your higher consciousness, into the heart of your very life force where you are one with the Great Spirit and all of life. It will take you into gratitude. Gratitude is a state of being. It is our way of saying, ĎThank you,í to the Great Spirit for all the things which are still going right in our lives, for all of the gifts of life which surround us even in the most trying times.
When you are in gratitude, you are in the celebration of thankfulness and it is a great and an energizing force. You realize that light and darkness cannot exist together, because darkness is only the absence of the light. With this realization comes the knowledge that what you perceived as the darkness when hardship befell you is really only a shadow. You can choose to box with this shadow if you like, but it isnít going to get you anywhere, except ever deeper into the shadows.
Or you can choose gratitude and all of the love and energy and vision to which the life force of the Great Spirit opens you.
Hardship befalls all of us at various times in our lives. It is the nature of life in the physical realm. Follow the threads of your hardship into gratitude. Then celebrate all the gifts of your life with gratitude, and the solutions you seek will become apparent to you. In the Great Spirit, all things are possible.
About the author:
Lynn Andrews is a shaman healer, recognized worldwide as a leader in the fields of spiritual healing and personal development. She is the author of the internationally best-selling Medicine Woman series, founder of the Lynn Andrews Center for Sacred Arts and Training. www.lynnandrews.com.