Flourishing by Finding Meaning in Challenging Times

Some intentions and purpose of this blog post:

  1. To define what flourishing can be and how it may look to you
  2. Finding meaning in challenges and how that can benefit you
  3. Looking for personal purpose and messages within challenges

To start with what is flourishing? 

The dictionary offers some of the following words to describe flourishing. 

-To grow vigorously 

-Proliferate

-Regenerate

-Sprout

-Prosper

-Thrive

-Prevail

-Triumph

-Come into ones own

If you look at and feel those words there is a feeling of overcoming, becoming more than you were. Growing, expanding and moving past challenges.

So how could flourishing apply to you?

Well that is relative to where you are right now. If you are frozen in fear and panic then maybe taking a walk or learning breath-work or meditation is flourishing in comparison to the current situation.

A seedling may look small in comparison to a full grown plant but in reality they have just overcome the weight of the earth to break through the surface.

If you have lost your job or income, then maybe studying or finding a new career that is completely different, or taking steps to starting a business is flourishing.

Its relative to where you are now! To adapt though and keep going in the face of where you are now is to flourish no matter how small or big the steps you make are.

Why might you want to start seeing small steps or accomplishments as flourishing? These little wins are the kindling that keeps you going and allows the larger fire to grow later. They offer encouragement and can help to drag you out of times when things are moving slowly or appear to be stagnant or motionless.

I have worked with lots of people that are very hard on themselves about their progress or apparent lack of, which can end up causing them a lot of dis-ease or to give up totally. I personally have been faced with that choice many times in the past and I am so thankful I allowed those small steps to register as that allowed a lot of expectation and suffering to dissolve. 

Only six years ago I was in a constant daily journey of healing to recover from a fall. A year later I was still in the worst mental and physical health I had ever been in, yet after breaking down one day I started to look for any progress at all no matter how small. What I found were small amounts of progress, slight changes and to relieve my suffering I decided to give them credit and to celebrate them. In that moment allowing celebration for small things was a form of flourishing. My self care was flourishing like never before.

 Challenges. A breading ground for your greatness

I remember years ago watching a nature program where they were taking a submarine into some of the deepest depths of the ocean and didn’t believe that anything could live under the pressures and inhospitable environment they expected to find there.

What they found though was a whole new world that was present and not just present it was flourishing. Even with the massive pressures of the water and total lack of sunlight. It looked like nothing they had seen before.

It can take challenges and unpleasant environments for things that you didn’t know of to flourish. In fact without challenges how could we even quantify that someone or something was flourishing. We need a base point to start from.

Repeatedly I have seen person after person accomplish incredible things that were born out of some incredibly challenging moments in time. They changed the something happening to them to a something happening for them. It may not have been comfortable or made sense yet some inner power just kept them going. 

I would encourage people to look at what they feel are their greatest accomplishments in life to date. See if you can find a challenge that was the cause of the journey that brought you to your accomplishment.
Take a moment now to write those down and see if you also have that pattern appearing in your own life. I’m not sure if Iv met a person yet that doesn’t have some story or many that mirror this.

Ask yourself why and how did you get there a number of times until you find the seed that started the growth. 

Can we find meaning in challenges?

So a common statement in the spiritual world is that everything happens for a reason and that the outside world or really ones perception of it is a mirror to our inner world.

So how can we test this? Well an open mind is useful and then secondly to actually start looking to see if you can find anything that rings rings true to those statements.

Right now is anything triggering you? What is it in the outside world that is feeling like the reason that you feel how you do?

Is that bringing up memories of times in the past where something similar happened before or made you feel the same way? Has that repeated a number of times? Have you had the same reaction each time? Does it feel like a cycle that keeps repeating? 

What do you feel this situation could be trying to teach you? Do you have a wanting to react differently?

What possible reasons for this be happening to you other than statements like it always happens to me. Imagine we live in a magical world where life outside us is trying to guide us through experience. What could that experience be trying to teach you or guide you to right now?

Write these things down and be really creative. Open your mind to every possibility no matter how out there it seems just write them all down.

Did you get a number of ideas?

Now let’s look at the idea of the outside world mirroring our inside world. Pick someone that has wronged you or triggered you recently. What did they do? What was the personality trait of what they did? Did they lie, cheat, scream, become angry, try to control, manipulate?

What was it?

For this little experiment let go of that person for a bit and just pick out the trait of what they did?

Now let’s look for the mirror. Let’s say for example they lied or are a lier. So we pick the trait of lying.

Then look at yourself and start noting all of the times that you have lied. Where you have exhibited that trait yourself. 

Start making mental notes of all of the times you have lied. These may have only been little white lies or big huge ones. They may have had noble reasons behind them or they were to protect yourself or someone else. This isn’t some sort of punishment or moral gauge it is just an experiment. Keeping going and going until you can’t think of any more. 

Now take your thoughts back to the other person that lied to you. Do you feel any different about them? Has there been a lowering of the emotional charge towards them?

Are you able to see parts of yourself in that other person? Do you attract people like this a lot in your life?

When we integrate more and more parts of ourself certain people don’t seem to appear in our lives as often or at all. Or they change towards you. Not knowingly they just seem to change.

Another useful gift is to look at things from as many perspectives as possibly. Understanding and knowing is a powerful tool to dissolve challenge. 

Around 15 years ago I started working in the car industry and was immediately told a story about a former employee that was a real pain. He stole everyones customers. Jumped on every lead and phone call. He didn’t seem to care about any other sales person that worked there. He lied and cheated from everyones perspective.

Later after leaving that dealership and the accompanying relief felt by the salespersons when he did. It was later learned that he was terminally ill and was trying to make as much money as he could to put his son through school before he himself died.

That knowledge completely changed the energy and feelings towards this man. 

As I worked there and learnt the trade of selling cars what I noticed was that the people that told me the story about that man or others like him at some point took someone else’s customer, jumped on a phone call or lied in some way to gain more sales and money for themselves. 

The majority of them seemed to be completely unaware of the same traits in themselves that angered them so much in others. 

What I have seen in others and certainly in myself is the more I healed and integrated these “mirrors” the less they showed up in my life or completely left. 

Changing the channel and finding space to flourish

So we have looked at what flourishing can look like. That it can be small things or big things. We pondered on allowing small things to be accepted as flourishing and that they can lead us to big things and encourage us to keep going.

We looked at how our big accomplishments usually grow out of challenges. Almost like the void of a challenge is filled with our actions to get through them. They can be like a springboard. 

We looked at being triggered, patterns and considered the outside world being a mirror for us to show where we have opportunity for growth.

We considered seeing ourselves in others to lower our emotional charge and also to show where changes in ourselves could alter the outside world for us.

I shared a story about how understanding and perspective can completely change how events feel and are experienced. I also shared how some people aren’t always able to see things that they dislike in others which are actually present inside themselves.

When we do though it is very freeing and can help us to make changes in ourselves or stop repeating the same patterns over and over. 

The sub title I put here was about changing the channel. To change a channel we first need to recognize we have a channel to change from. This takes honestly with oneself and at times strength to do so. It is so empowering though to let go of these chains that actually hold us back.

As the seedling that pushes through the soil to reach the space of the open air to grow fully. We as humans do need to do the same. 

Seeing that something is no longer serving us and choosing that we want to change is the first part. To me this is creating some space and putting a hand on the dial in readiness to change the station. The next part is realizing that in the past we may have followed the same reactions and patterns before.

Take a moment to be kind to yourself and be grateful for that learning and now start looking at different ways to move forward.

Again this comes in question asking.

How can you do things differently? 

What was your usual reaction? 

How could you react differently?

How can this closed door guide you to a new path?

Are you seeing a possible new path?  

Take a moment to stop and ask your heart what can I do? What can I do differently?

Find a quiet place sit down with your eyes closed and ask those questions what can I do? What can I do differently? How can I break this pattern? What needs to change to stop this repeating?

Then sit quietly and just listen. Some people hear a voice speak back to them. Others will get messages back in the form of a book they randomly pick up. Maybe a random friend calls or someone gives advise when you didn’t really ask.
Be open to receiving guidance. If you can’t hear the messages coming for the inside they will come from the outside.

It may take a few days but they will come.

The next step is acting on them. This can be the hardest part. To do something differently and step into the unknown takes courage. Luckily you have bucket loads of that inside you. It may be hidden but its there.

The rewards of making these changes and facing your challenges is you integrate parts of yourself and get a boost of energy. Like parts of yourself coming home again and making you more whole. 

Other things to look at are. Is there a group of people that you could help right now using what you learnt from your challenges? How could you create a career or purpose that could help those people by changing how you approach life? 

Making your goals and visions into something bigger than yourself makes it a lot easier to get going and to keep going.

Due to what is going on in the world right now. What gifts inside you are being revealed to you? What fire or passion has been ignited in you? What action can you take even in a small way to move towards offering these gifts to the world?

How can you use this moment in time to do things differently and get outside the box?

I will leave you with the thoughts of the deepest oceans and that even though scientists believed nothing could possibly live there. That in fact what they found was that life had not just found a way to live but a way to flourish.

I encourage you to seize the opportunity to consider a different path right now for yourself if you are struggling. To see how you can help others by using hidden talents that are showing themselves to you.

Think and act outside of the box and use events and people to guide you to your greatest achievements which much of the time are hidden somewhere within our greatest fears.

Simon Calnan xxx

https://sograteful.ca

Being Present In The Now

Have you noticed where your mind goes? Is it in the future, past or present?

Sometimes I find it beneficial to see thoughts as energy and where that energy is spread. If thoughts are in the past then we are energetically torn between the present moment and also reliving a time in the past which is also running in the present moment on top of all of the other stimulus that is actually in the present moment. Almost like trying to live two lives in the same present moment with a feeling of separation between the two. Which sounds exhausting and a little uncomfortable to say the least.

As exhausting and uncomfortable as that sounds I spent a large portion of life living that way. Completely unawares that it was happening or that there was any other way to live.

As humans the majority of thoughts going through a lot of peoples minds are the same thoughts running over and over again every day. Creating the same chemical releases within the brain and body.

By taking the mind to a place in the future or past it can dodge and avoid feeling things in the present but ultimately those things are going to get felt at some point.

I wonder if avoiding the present is to avoid a perception of reality which doesn’t match a belief or expectation.

All of our feeling is in the present so it is understandable that people maybe don’t want to be here to feel it.

The thoughts and fears of the past and future are felt in the present though so is it really avoiding pain and suffering by living in the thoughts of another time. When our thoughts are somewhere other than the now this also leaves space for other things to creep in. It creates room for the untruth to become believable.

Pain is what brought me into the present. An inability to get away from pain. One of the things my mind would do anything it could to avoid was the one thing that brought me back to the centre of it all. I remember vividly a meditation where the pain in my spine was so strong and every trick and technique that I could find just wasn’t enabling me to escape. So with a feeling a complete anger and defiance I went as deeply and presently as I possibly could in that moment. I felt into that pain with every fibre of my being.

What happened next opened up a whole new curiosity in me. In about five minutes that pain dissolved. I could still feel my injuries but the extreme pain and resistance to it was gone.

An hour later the pain returned but this time my awareness of it had completely changed. Around this same time I also was doing a lot of practice with Heart Math and using a bio feedback device to measure my heart rate variability and what I was finding was each time my mind drifted off to somewhere else than the present moment my HRV would drop. This would mostly happen without me being that aware but I would see my HRV level drop drastically. This became an incredible training tool for me and my mind. I now knew my mind had drifted off before I was consciously aware of the thoughts off playing or suffering somewhere else.

The saying where your attention goes your energy flows had new meaning for me. I was in dire need of healing and I knew that more energy within my being in the present helped to speed up my healing. So each time my mind went off somewhere else I would bring it back.

If I was looking for a way to get used to the feeling of failure then this practice was exceptional at providing just that. I quickly learnt that personal forgiveness and acceptance was needed in bucket loads to deal with this new awareness of the conditioning in my mind.

I have spent the years since consistently training myself to to be more present. When emotions or trauma presents itself this can become more challenging. Then once that is processed and integrated willingly back to present I go. In fact I know that the fasted way to move thought emotion is to go to the present. As emotion presents the tendency may be to want to get away from feeling it and although this can help a little to lower the suffering, that emotion is still there waiting. By being present with emotion it can be processed in a matter of seconds in some cases and then the energy trapped within it is released back into your body to be used for other things.

Other times it takes longer and more strength to be present is required, but the rewards are beyond those of the material world.

Our now moment is all that we ever experience, and to have as much awareness and energy in this moment gives one the highest opportunity for progress and fulfillment. It will mean facing fears and situations head on but it also allows much of the illusion to be stripped away. The alternative is having your energy spread all over the place in the past and future which in many cases in repetitive cycles.

It takes practice and commitment but you have done it before. Everyone will remember a time when they were so fully in the moment. Where time stood still and everything felt so real and full. Maybe it was the birth of a child, the exhilaration of a sport, the beauty of a piece of art, a mouthful of food. This isn’t some magic trick that is only available to a few people.

The present moment is something for all that opens a whole new world.

S