We all have problems.
Each of our lives has certain limitations, whether they be physical or emotional difficulties, social barriers, tragedies, mental health issues, or existential hurdles. There are infinite ways in which we can feel oppressed.
This is part of being alive—what it means to be human.
To be human is to be limited in some shape or form, but what I’ve been interested in lately (and perhaps my whole life) is what it takes to transcend these limitations and step fully into the present moment.
What does it take to allow our soul to shine through the murky smog of our own suffering?
Having lived with a severe chronic illness for the past few years, this question has fascinated me. I am in a perpetual state of debilitation and discomfort as a consequence of my health, and I am forced to deal with my own body and mind in a way that most people are fortunate enough to bypass.
How can I push through the physiological purgatory of my condition and experience the joy of being alive?
I think I have come up with an answer to this question, at least for myself:
We must find our way back to the present moment, no matter what it takes.
We must create a path within ourselves that brings us to the here and now, allowing us to reach our highest potential in spite of whatever resistance we may be facing.
The present moment is the only place anything truly happens. It is the only place where we can uncover our true self. We know we are there because there is no longer a line between subject and object, between ourselves and the outside world. That stifling self-consciousness that made our faces red when we did class presentations in seventh grade fades away.
We are no longer aware of ourselves; we are simply aware.
My advice would be to use whatever tools we have to realign ourselves with the present moment, whether it be reading something profound each day, writing down our thoughts, practicing breathing techniques, or sitting in daily meditation. We must use what we have and let it take us into the stark immediacy of what is happening right now.
Eckhart Tolle once said:
“Consciousness awakens only because we are being challenged. That is quite a relief to realize to be challenged doesn’t mean there is something wrong. ‘There’s something wrong with my life that shouldn’t be.’ If we believe that something should not be happening then we get really unhappy. Then the challenges become transformed into unhappiness. You are misunderstanding the very purpose of life, and expecting something that your mind has come up with…the illusion that something should be different.”
In other words, challenges are a natural part of life, and when we deny this we run into trouble. There are no “shoulds.” We don’t get to choose everything that happens in our lives and all the challenges that those circumstances present, but what we can choose is how we respond to these challenges.
I have been given more than enough reason to become bitter and resentful about my life. I have been to some of the darkest places that anyone could imagine. I have seen the shadow of my soul, the pit of despair that dwells beneath the surface of my pain. I did not choose the cards I have been dealt, but they have been dealt to me nonetheless, and I am going to play my f*cking hand to the best of my ability.
I don’t want to run away from life. I want to face it with the whole of my being—bringing forth all that I am. When we live in the now, in accordance with the innate beauty and power of the present moment, our bitterness and resentment seem to fade away.
Embrace the challenges of life. Try to look at them as unique aspects of our individual journeys, helping illustrate the amazing portrait of our lives.
Author: Samuel Kronen
Image: Blake Connally/Unsplash
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Callie Rushton