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The Sometimes Awkward Spiritual Journey

Inspired by a conversation we'd had, a friend once gave me a dish towel that says, “I meditate, I do yoga, I chant…and I still want to smack someone.”


Yup. I’ve been there. More than I care to admit.


I remember during one of my yoga teacher trainings a couple of years ago, one of the participants asked me why, even though she had been on a devoted spiritual path for decades, she still felt so beat up by life. Even with all of the yoga and meditation and other spiritual practices she engages in, life is still really hard sometimes.


I didn’t immediately have an answer for her because I have had the same question, myself, at times. With all of the focus on self-awareness, conscious choice and response-ability that I try to cultivate in my life, there are times when it’s still been very challenging. Overwhelmingly so.


So, when she asked that question, for a moment I was stumped. Then, suddenly, I remembered a conversation I had had with another friend several months prior. He is an avid gardener who would show up with these amazingly huge sweet potatoes. I mean, they were more the size of a small pumpkin than a sweet potato. In all of my efforts to grow sweet potatoes, up to that point, they had never come out like that. They always ended up pretty puny-looking. Nothing like the sweet potatoes his garden yielded.


So I asked him, how do you get your sweet potatoes to be so big and hearty and healthy? He responded, “I don’t baby them. I rough them up. I trample through the vines…"


The message I took away from that brief conversation was that the more you challenge something, the more you strengthen it.


When times are tough, I choose to see it as us being given the opportunity to grow stronger . . . to become more resilient. So I think that our lives, not unlike those sweet potatoes, are challenging so that we can be strengthened in all of the ways that we most need it. When I think back on my life, to those things that were the hardest to get through, those same experiences (in the long run) also offered the greatest gifts.


So the question I am in the habit of asking, and the one I encourage you to ask yourself when in difficult situations is, "What is the gift of this?"


If we are dealing with the loss of a job, what is the gift in this? The loss of a relationship; what is the gift in this? A troubling political, economic, or environmental situation… what is the gift in this? I have noticed that, if I’m willing to look for it, there is almost always gold to be mined in any situation.


The other lesson here, for me anyway, is to remember to have a sense of humor about it all. Even when we are on a devoted spiritual path, it doesn’t necessarily mean that things get easier. It means only that we have the tools to, hopefully, navigate our way through the experience with as much grace and aplomb as possible. And yet, sometimes, we still muddle through kicking and screaming.


I’m reminded of the quote, “I never said it would be easy; I just said it would be worth it.”


We can support ourselves along the way on this awkward spiritual journey if we keep things in perspective, don’t take ourselves too seriously, and learn to find 'the funny' wherever possible.


Life is a gift. And nothing is guaranteed. 

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