I am grateful for and count as blessings the challenges I've had with my health since I was a young girl. Without all the years of struggling to find answers and meaning, I might not have held so faithfully to my yoga practice. Over the past 18 years, I have revealed more and more of my essential nature and continue to discover how to use what could be seen as afflictions as a way to help others by living from the steady consistency of my own practice.
As I have grown as a person, teacher, daughter, wife, and friend I have witnessed that it's not easy to be emotionally and intellectually developed enough to face the challenges of life as blessings rather than trying to escape. It seems most people want to take the joy and brush the suffering aside labeling it inconvenient or inappropriate. I've suffered a lot in my own body and I can personally attest that when you stop resisting suffering and allow it to have a shameless place in your life, you will make friends with other people who have suffered because you have cultivated compassion.
One thing I know as truth is that pain is the greatest teacher we have. Pain is the best guide to the highest purpose of yoga and life which is emancipation or freedom. Illness, poverty, deep emotional hurts like the loss of a loved one, or any other affliction to the human experience will take us into that compassionate place within that holds the power for deeper self awareness and ultimately true healing that goes far beyond our own individuality.
According to yogic philosophy, afflictions in this lifetime are manifestations of the actions and fruits of our past. Karma yoga or the yoga of action invites us to take responsibility for what we have created. The practice of yoga can take us into greater awareness that the pains of life on and off the mat are a way to see that adversity can be a seed for its own resolution and transcendence. We can step into and own the power to heal by showing up, embracing pain, and allowing it to cultivate a deeper sense of compassion for ourselves and others. Then we can put the love in our hearts into action, anxiousness disappears, and the healing we are meant to have can happen. It is from this place of applied wisdom that we can let go of our judgment and criticism and truly allow our hearts to be open to the journey that is unique to each person and yet inextricably linked to the healing of all Beings.
So, yes, I am grateful for all the adversity in my life! My darkest moments are what have allowed me to know by brightest joy. I am grateful for staying loyal to my path knowing that with the steady practice of yoga I have been able to discover how to see the good in the uncomfortable, trust that my life will get better and better, and share in the journey with those who help to illuminate the path of true healing with the power of compassion.