Because of our technological connectedness, people are feeling the brunt of serious cataclysmic and tragic events more than ever, affecting millions of people around the world, with only the promise of more turmoil to come.
In this environment, it’s easy to sink into crush, hopelessness, anxiety, and depression, which only makes things worse. It is imperative to focus on personal care and personal spiritual cultivation in order to support and protect us from the negativity that confronts us.
The truth is, however, that even if we have the impression that these are particularly dark times, throughout human history, people have always had to experience untold suffering at the hands of man and nature. Although we may feel exceptionally challenged at this time, we have a long human history to rely on for advice and comfort.
This comfort can be found in some very simple spiritual concepts which have the power to radically change our perspective and to instantly rewrite our way of seeing the world and our role in it:
1. Letting go:
The ability to let go of emotional attachments is perhaps the greatest spiritual tool for surviving and thriving in times of adversity. It is when our expectations of the world and its results for us contrast with reality that we find it difficult to accept and move forward easily through suffering.
This concept is quite old in the archives of spiritual practice. Taoism is perhaps the oldest tradition of wisdom which teaches the importance of being fully present with what is, while radically releasing the expectation of what should be. Here, Master David James Lees explains the importance of letting go:
“When you are faced with difficult or real-life circumstances that cause what I am referring to as the ‘feeling of fear’, your ability to trust and let go can be destabilized and even swing your energy out of balance. Practical or emotional challenges that appear to be beyond your existing comfort zone can turn your “fight or flight” mentality into action.
It is at this point that it may seem advantageous not to trust or to refuse to give up familiar and comfortable ways of thinking and acting, essentially as a means of protecting oneself. It’s almost as if you are throwing yourself emotionally through an uncertain storm, but in doing so you are sacrificing one of your most precious navigation tools: your inner confidence compass and your energetic connection to the Universe! “
2. Accepting your Shadow self:
Without integration and acceptance of the shadow self, the individual is condemned to undergo the parody of disharmony and imbalance. Because it is only when the shadow is recognized, and not repressed, that it can be useful in widening the range of possible positive results in a person’s life.
“It is a frightening thought that man also has a dark side, composed not only of little weaknesses but of a positively demonic dynamism. The individual rarely knows anything about it; for him, as an individual, it is incredible that he can never, under any circumstances, go beyond himself. But let these harmless creatures form a mass, and a raging monster emerges.
~ Carl Jung, on the Psychology of the unconscious
This concept consists of embracing the inner darkness and appreciating that as a force of nature, both individually and collectively, our shadow side serves to guide us towards growth.
By recognizing the dark side of our existence, that is to say not to resist its explosions and its messages, we are able to cope with suffering and adversity knowing that a greater interest is also served, in the form of awakening.
“The shadow is the most destructive, insidious, and dangerous when it is usually repressed, manifested by a myriad of psychological disorders ranging from neurosis to psychosis, irrational interpersonal hostility, and even cataclysmic international confrontations. Such deleterious symptoms, attitudes, and behaviors arise from being possessed or driven by the dissociated but fearless shadow.
~ Stephen A. Diamond, Ph.D.
3. Gratitude is everything:
The importance of practicing gratitude cannot be underestimated, especially at a time when so many people are suffering the devastating loss of property and so many lives have been affected by war, terror, and tragedy. If the mind is left free to run wild with negative stories and is never reinforced with positive stories, the slide into despair surely follows.
Gratitude is a timeless spiritual practice found in almost all major spiritual traditions. From a simple prayer of thanks for a meal to the enumeration of the things in life that matter most to us, gratitude is perhaps the simplest and most powerful way to transform our state of mind for the better.
It is so effective and works so quickly that even modern science sees it as a powerful way to control the state of mind.
“The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness (depending on the context). In some ways, gratitude encompasses all of these meanings. Gratitude is a grateful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible.
With gratitude, people recognize the goodness of their lives. In the process, people generally recognize that the source of this kindness is at least partially outside of themselves. As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something greater than themselves as individuals, be it towards other people, nature, or a higher power.
… People feel and express gratitude in multiple ways. They can apply it to the past (regain positive memories and be thankful for the elements of childhood or past blessings), the present (not to take good fortune for granted), and the future (maintain an optimistic attitude and optimistic).
Regardless of someone’s inherent or current level of gratitude, it is a quality that individuals can successfully cultivate. “
Even leaders in fields other than spirituality have always expounded upon the benefits of cultivating an appropriate frame of mind to thrive in life, both in adversity and in seeking to create the best version of yourself.
Much of what we now know about consciousness tells us that the world is first created materially at the level of our thoughts, and therefore it is essential to put into practice what we know about creating the inner peace in times of chaos.
“Happiness does not depend on any external condition, it is governed by our mental attitude.”
~ Dale Carnegie