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The Silver Lining of Soul

by Kino MacGregor

Have you ever walked into a string of extremely unfortunate events? Imagine that your partner leaves you for a younger, prettier, wealthier, funnier version of yourself the moment you feel deeply insecure about your body. Then the government slams you with $4,000 of extra taxes to paid right after you quit your job. And in your yoga practice you injure your hamstring right after your shoulder finally started to get back into shape. There are often weeks, months or even years that may have you wondering what the Divine plan for your life is really all about anyway.

Yet your darkest moments offer the greatest potential for growth. In the stormy clouds of life’s inevitable series of setbacks you will find the silver lining of your soul. It isn’t when everything in your life clicks along in an upbeat winning streak that you ask the toughest questions of your life. The search for meaning walks hand in hand with the reality of struggle. When it’s cheap, free and easy, it’s can also be meaningless, light and unbearable. Sometimes people fundamentally reevaluate their life’s purpose, direction and drive after a life-threatening illness. Others do so after a momentous or inspirational meeting with a person, mentor or role model. Many have also voluntarily chosen to face the deluge of bad news that arrives at their doorstep through the power of yoga.

Eckhart Tolle says that every single person interested in spirituality today has suffered and it is the suffering that created their interest in the deeper dimension of life. So it is that yoga as a spiritual path offers a unique kind of salvation, one that promises not to remove you from your suffering but one that teaches you how to love, live with and accept the reality of life as it really is, good and bad days just the same. You see, the bad news comes knocking at your door and threatens to pull you under a permanent shadow of depression, anger or defeat completely uninvited. If you run from it, fight it or try to escape, you’re doomed to fail someday. Every person on Earth has a day that’s better off spent in bed no matter how cheerful, sunny and bright their disposition might be. The glitteratti, celebrity and royalty all have bad hair days. Yogis, priests and saints get angry. And there’s nothing with that. Inner peace is more a discipline of the mind than mere good luck. With the power of yoga you see the truth of life, that is, that there is nowhere to run, no place to hide, and no one to save you. All that’s left to do is begin walking along the slow, steady spiritual path, the path of freedom, truth and lasting peace.

It is when life tests you by offering the challenge of hardship that you know exactly what you’re made of. Strength and steadiness of character are defined not in moments of ease, but in moments of great duress. In the context of yoga, it is not what comes naturally and effortlessly to you that holds the greatest power of transformation. That which is far from your sense of normal has the ability to make you a new person for it is in these moments that you will have a mirror with which to see yourself clearly. Much of my personal journey in yoga has been about developing strength and steadiness both of the body and mind. At moments of great challenge, my first inclination is to quit, give up and grow melancholic and self-pitying. One of yoga’s greatest gifts to me is the awareness that exactly when I want to throw in the towel is exactly when I need to push through, not harshly with unnecessary crass force, but from the core of my being, gently, powerfully and with exactly the right amount of strength and grace.

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