Each of us is on an evolutionary path, growing in awareness and spiritual understanding. Along the way, we sometimes get stuck. We need a spiritual "kick in the pants" to get moving again. When this happens, we call it adversity, or a problem, or bad luck. In truth, adversity is the divine source prodding us along, making us face what we don't want to, or guiding us away from a path we should not be on.
This happened to me recently. As some of you know, I recently was laid-off from my daytime job. The way this happened included some malicious and (in my opinion) unfounded attacks on me personally as well as my work. I was surprised by the vitriolic comments directed at me, and by my own reaction to the unfolding of events.
I find myself reacting to these events in a variety of ways. First, I've had a spiritual insight. I remember how this job came to me by a set of circumstances that I found difficult to explain. The job ended with an equally confusing set of circumstances. I also recall having a sense several months ago that I had done what I had come to do in this job, and that I should prepare to leave. (Of course, this type of insight is easy to ignore, especially when one is comfortable in one's current position!) When I'm spirit-centered, I realize a simple truth: the job was given to me at the right time - when I needed to be there - and then taken away at the right time - when I need to move on to whatever comes next.
At the same time I realize this spiritual truth, I also find my mind getting mixed up in thoughts, trying to sort through and make sense of what has happened, and trying to defend my point of view of the events. My emotions range from anger to fear to resentment to sadness. I even have experienced physical injury, with a twisted ankle and a sore elbow.
Why all of these seemingly incongruous reactions? My understanding of the five gifts gives me insight to a possible answer. I know that my awareness, my existence, is at all levels at the same time. Within the gift of the physical body, I experience injury and pain when there is a mis-alignment. My emotions come from the gift of life. When I feel attacked - whether the threat is real or imagined - the life-emotion response is real. The gift of thought is a "sorting-out" tool, and when many thoughts clamor for mind-space, I experience mental agitation and confusion.
From the gift of pure awareness, I understand that all of these responses are real and true at the same time. What's more, I know that all I experience comes from a divine source, including all of the experiences I've described above. Since the five gifts come from the divine, then all of my reactions to my experience are also from this divine source. It is all true. Everything, including my reactions, is as it should be in this moment. There is nothing wrong with how I feel or think about what's happened, nor is the event itself inherently bad. This awareness of wholeness and the rightness of this moment helps me to remain grounded and centered in spirit.
This does not mean that I allow my emotional or thought-reactions to dictate my actions - I still have a choice in how I respond to what happens. Nor does this awareness mean that the unpleasant feelings or thoughts instantly disappear. I simply remain aware, allowing the reactions I'm experiencing to happen, observing without being overwhelmed by them. I know that once I have learned what I need to learn, and grown in awareness as a result of the experiences I've had, the feelings and thoughts will clear away, making room for more experiences, more feelings, more thoughts.
The gift of awareness allows me to be open to the experiences I'm having, and to observe my own reactions on all levels. There is a peace an serenity that comes to me with awareness. A calmness within the storm of events and reactions. I know - not intellectually, but spiritually - that the universe has provided all that I've needed up to this moment, and that the next steps will come to me at the right time and in the right form, to provide all that is needed going forward. I know, too, that all that I experience is true, and that I am served by this experience if I can remain in a state of awareness as I pass experience each moment. I can fully embrace the joy of what is.
Here's a meditation I find useful.
Sit well, and begin with eyes open. Observe objects in the farthest distance within your field of view. Notice the objects you see, and any sounds you hear. Without judgment or labeling, be aware of physical world at a distance. Allow yourself to simply be aware for a few moments.
Now gradually move your awareness closer to your body, noticing items in the environment around you, continuing to observe without comment or judgment. As you move your awareness closer to your body, more of your senses come into play - sound, sight, smell. Notice those objects touching your body - the floor, your clothing, the air around you - bringing the sense of touch into your field of awareness. Be with this awareness for a few moments.
Close your eyes and bring your awareness within the body. Notice the structures of the body - the bones, muscles, connective tissue. Be aware of the shape of the outer body and the inner body. If there is discomfort in your body, you can gently adjust your position to relieve it, but otherwise make no judgments. Simply observe. Be aware of the gift of physical body for a few moments.
Notice that, even though your body is still, there is movement within it - the heartbeat, the breath, the movement of the blood through your arteries and veins. Become aware of the movements within. As you focus your attention on the inner space, you can become aware of the living energy system of the body, which flows actively all the time, even in stillness. Notice, too, any emotions or sensations of feeling within. This is the gift of life, surrounding and permeating the physical body. Be aware of the life within you for a few moments.
Continuing with awareness of the physical body and the life within you, become aware of the content of your mind. Thought enters the mind-space from a source beyond, dwells in the mind for a while, then moves on. Notice which thoughts linger, and which leave quickly. Without judgment, simply be aware of the gift of thought for a few moments.
Within your field of awareness, you experience the gift of the physical body, the gift of life and the gift of thought. Notice the wholeness of the experience. As each moment comes and goes, your field of awareness remains constant. You are this field of awareness. You are the awareness that is observing the gifts you've received, the passing moments, and the emergence and disappearance of objects in the field of awareness. This is the gift of pure awareness, the self, the spirit, the essence of being. Let yourself be.