Life is so turbulent at times it can become overwhelming. The normal mind is used to its usual course and has a hard time flowing with the changes that are inevitable in nature.
There is a beautiful story of a butterfly that gives us a helpful perspective on adversity. It goes like this: A man found the cocoon of a butterfly and decided to keep it until the butterfly emerged.
One day a small opening in the cocoon appeared. He watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and it could not go any further.
So the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily but it had a swollen body and small-shriveled wings. The man expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened.
The butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly. What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening was God's way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.
Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If God allowed us to go through our life without any obstacles it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been. We could never fly.
They say that life is not a bed of roses; inevitably there are thorns too. There are always periods of success followed by periods of failures. That way material life is always bipolar. If you accept success and prosperity then you also need to know the art of handling failures.
Why does adversity comes into our lives? It is simple. Just as the butterfly needed to spend enough time in the cocoon, battering his way out to strengthen his wings for flight, so, too, adversity comes into our lives to humble our ego, and to test our patience and perseverance. Adversity essentially tests our faith and trust in the divine.
In fair weather we hardly have any chance to prove to ourselves how much we love God. But when the storms and high winds come and smash things to the ground, and we can hold fast to the extended hands of God, after a while the storms pass away and we come back to normal life. If we love God then we must be prepared to take the tests of patience and trust in His infinite intelligence, and boundless compassion. The poet sings, “If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?”
Nothing is permanent in this world; everything is changing. Hence the present difficult state we find ourselves in, be it with our family, our job, or our health, will also pass once the test is over. For example, if one loses a job it is not something new that just happened to us, it is happening all over the world, and is a very common experience in the corporate “Hi and Bye,” hire and fire culture. If we have enjoyed so much of the merits of a prosperous life, then we also need to accept this demerit of the culture too.
Losing a job does not have to be the end of our world. We know very well that losing our mental strength and positive outlook is indeed a great loss, but a job is not. We can find another one; we just need to be on the look out for it. In the meantime, we can read, meditate, relax, and understand that true spiritual practice comes in BAD times, not when things are all going well.
The right art is to never resist, grumble, react, be negative and waver in our trust in the divine. Our resistance only increases our suffering and its tenure. Just accept, with increasing trust that the Divine Mother is never happy to see Her child in pain. Just keep repeating the words “She is always holding my hand.” The Compassionate Mother will see us through these difficult times. We need to trust that the Divine Mother with Her infinite wisdom and love knows the right balance between success and failure in our lives. She is just strengthening our character, which helps us to hold on, even in the face of adversity.
Be positive, Be accepting. Be mindful. Mindfulness is absolutely essential for striking this balance by fostering love, compassion, wisdom, creativity, patience and adaptability. Mindfulness helps us achieve a calm mind that is necessary to embrace the Flow of Life without reactivity. A calm mind is not agitated with judgments nor influenced by the past and future, but is more open to infinite possibilities! It is a mind that is more in tune with the present moment. It is a mind that flows from inside out, rooted to the Being within. A calm mind is in tune with the Universal forces; hence, it just flows effortlessly. A calm mind is indeed divine and swings with the pendulum of Life!!
Remember, when we have good times, then it is easy for us to laugh a lot, and trigger the positive healing energy that boosts our immune system, but can we laugh when we face hurdles? Can we smile visualizing the Universal design to give us a greater challenge and a greater success? Those who can value the power of the Inner Spirit, and its inscrutable ways, will keep the smile alive in the midst of frowns all around. That is the way to be healthy, balanced and successful, and emerge to dance as a Butterfly!
Shuddhaanandaa Brahmachari (Kolkata, India), is a globally acclaimed motivational and spiritual teacher, author, social advocate and peace maker. Founder of Stress Management Academy, his Simple Art of Managing Stress and Course in Mindfulness are known worldwide, inspiring corporate leadership, students and all seekers of peace and happiness to be the leaders of tomorrow.
Author of the internationally acclaimed Making Your Mind Your Best Friend, Shuddhaanandaa was the recipient of the Man of Peace Award from the World Organisation for Peace in Mexico, 2012. He is recognized as a visionary social advocate for his development of groundbreaking programs that serve thousands of poverty-stricken individuals in slums of Calcutta, India and remote villages of West Bengal. He founded Lokenath Divine Life Mission in 1985.
Please read his new book Cleaning the Mirror of Mind, available on Kindle.
For more information visit http://www.courseinmindfulness.com/