Hardship and challenge are quintessential parts of the human experience, yet suffering is more optional. The turbulent times in our lives are an invitation to lift our consciousness, make choices about our perceptions and be the alchemist of our life. Alchemy simply put, is the intention to transmute something of perceived lesser quality to a more noble and great quality – like turning stone to gold. We are called to investigate where we move into judgement, and categorical thinking of right or wrong, and bring responsibility for how we choose to perceive life’s events. This kind of black and white thinking applied to the world, to people and ourselves contributes to feelings of anger, anxiety, blame, fear and self-loathing. The opportunity found in life’s challenges, is to acknowledge the presence of these emotions, whilst also turning our hearts to the potential blessings and gold, knowing that they will surely come.
The alchemical path has a few methods to support you in creating a golden and shimmering life, you can begin with;
‘Feel the feeling, don’t tell the story’
Emotions and feelings come and go like the weather, bringing with them an ever changing blend of sunshine and storms. In the company of uncomfortable and painful emotion, it is important to be aware of what thoughts, stories, judgements and assumptions we attribute to the feelings and emotions we are experiencing. If we believe the unhealthy or unhelpful thought processes, we can prolong our suffering by perceiving events, the future or even people as bad and unwanted. We move into the head and away from the heart, turning our backs on possibility. Practice holding your thoughts and beliefs lightly, like you might hold a feather in your hand. After all, our thoughts are based on perceptions, and the goggles we wear in life are based on our belief systems, which have been inherited, accumulated and sometimes forced onto us through past experience. These thoughts then, aren’t necessarily the truth of the event occurring in the present moment. Falling into the trap of believing that unhelpful thoughts are true or wise, is like creating a dead end in your experience. Use your breath as a support in navigating through challenging emotion, by expanding the breath deep into the lungs and abdomen, exhaling longer to release accumulated tension. The breath is your sacred anchor to the present moment, keeping you out of your mind and connected to infinite doors of possibility.
Look for the blessings around the corner
This can be a real feat when the heart and/or ego are suffering after a personal loss or hurt. There can be a temptation to hold onto the hurt, as a way of honouring our suffering and not approving of the ‘wrong doing’ of others. But by being curious and looking for the blessings, you are learning to hold space for both the pain and the possibilities in your awareness. This does not imply the hardship did not invite suffering into your life, it simply means you are also prepared to look for the gold in your life. There is a rolling movement in life. What once appeared to be a disaster, suddenly unfurls itself to carry blessing and gold. An eternal blossoming and expansion, moving from one shade of colour to the next, sometimes the darkest indigo, to lightest white. If in the wake of hardship, we are willing to unveil the gifts, opportunities and personal developments that may arise, the harder events in our lives can become more palpable, perhaps even sweet. Invite the gold into your life, by asking yourself, I wonder what miracle will come from this storm?
Nothing is absolute. Everything changes, everything moves, everything revolves, everything flies and goes away.”
~ Frida Kahlo
Have acceptance and compassion as your life travel guides
The personal growth journey has no final destination, it is an ever deepening, ever expanding path. This can bring its own set of frustrations, and means that at some stage we will realise that we never get to be that ‘perfect’ ideal version of ourselves that we are so diligently striving towards. Life also won’t go according to plan, and neither will people behave the way we always hope for. Support yourself along this journey by treating yourself and others with compassion and acceptance. Life, if we are lucky, can give us a long road, so choose thoughts that are encouraging, loving and accepting, as you trundle along the path. Know that there is a whole planet of people, trundling alongside you with their own backpacks full of self-doubt and uncertainty.
It is the very contrast between dark and light that brings beauty into the world. Think of the first day you wake up feeling fresh after battling the flu, or the delight of the first sun filled sky after a winter of grey. There is a mighty magnificence, gifted only through the contrast of dark and light, challenge and ease. Each is needed, each is sacred. Without both we would miss out on the gold. So how could one be better than the other? Rather it is the dance of challenge and ease in our lives that can create the bliss and blessings we long for.
Are you sifting through the dust, letting it fall away to reveal the gold. Or have you got dust in your eyes?