Transforming Hardship into Heart-Growth

Over the past few weeks, I have witnessed several friends be struck by tragedy, loss or life-threatening illness. This has raised for me a worthwhile contemplation for my first blog post:

How can we transform the tough times in our lives? What can we learn from them and through them?

This past January, during my Seek the Sun 2016 Winter Yoga Retreat in Troncones, Mexico, we had a number of very powerful satsangs (discussions). One afternoon the question was raised, “Why do very bad things happen to good people?” I took a long pause and realized that each of us must answer this for ourselves.

But what came to me in that moment is this:

When bad things happen to us and bring tangible grief and unrelenting sadness, we have a great opportunity to come away from these experiences with a renewed sense of compassion and forgiveness for all beings and for ourselves. These ego-shattering experiences can deepen our desire to live with more personal honesty, simplicity and LOVE.

Buddhist monks and nuns believe that the acceptance of pain and suffering enriches their understanding of all LIFE, elevating their viewpoint of the world and opening their hearts to even greater levels of tolerance and compassion. They live by heartfelt gratitude for every experience in their lives—both the joyful and the most challenging.

I have come to realize that the dark moments of my life have helped define who I am today. These difficult times are what ultimately made me a seeker of truth. I desire more understanding and spirituality in my life. I want to learn more about living wholeheartedly in the NOW. I want to satsang these ideals with other souls. How can I turn my back on the tests and challenges that put me on a Bhakti path of LOVE? My spiritual teacher says, “Do not pray for your troubles to be removed, but instead pray for deeper understanding and grace."

I’d highly recommend investing 25 minutes to watch Sheryl Sandberg’s 2016 Commencement Address at UC Berkeley. One of the things Ms. Sandberg says that speaks to me directly is that, even amidst our toughest times and losses, we can still find moments in a day that are precious and that give us a sense of joy. Ms. Sandberg shares, through tears and with a shaky voice, that it took the biggest tragedy of her life to teach her about the preciousness of life. She now tries in earnest to go to sleep each night contemplating with gratitude the joys of that day.

Let’s find more reasons in our lives to be grateful. Let’s transform our pain into precious understanding. Our hardships can become a spiritual springboard toward tolerance, compassion and unconditional love.  Let’s walk through LIFE in a hue of grace and mercy, and align ourselves with the ideal of channeling the greater good to all beings!