The journey of life…
As we walk it’s winding path, we venture to a great many places, live magnificent experiences, face incredible challenges, confront countless lessons, and encounter limitless opportunities.
For the past month or so, I’ve literally — though not figuratively — been taking this journey and facing these things lying down.
A quick explanation
We all face challenges in life.
Still though, it’s easy to forget the trials others encounter in daily life.
Being aware of what others are facing grows our empathy and our understanding of the people in our world. Plus, it reminds us that we are not alone.
We all face tough times, and when we come together with compassion, we can face those difficulties with greater strength and resilience.
In consideration of that, this post introduces a few of the things I’ve encountered recently, plus some of the lessons they’ve afforded me — lessons which I hope will be of some benefit to you.
(While these experiences reflect some of what I’ve recently been encountering, many people face far greater challenges than I on a regular basis. Considering this in our daily interactions helps improve the lives of those around us, as well as our own.)
Turbulent times and taking it lying down
Over the last few months, a number of challenges have arisen.
As a small sample:
- my immediate family is making some life and career decisions,
- a family member is experiencing long-running intense pain, facing tough life challenges, and needed a medical procedure,
- a different family member passed away, and
- as mentioned above, for the last month or so, I’ve spent the vast majority of my time lying down.
For now, I’ll focus on the month of bed rest since it contains worthwhile lessons and doesn't impact the privacy of others.
On a daily basis, I love being active athletically, being outdoors, and just moving around in general.
So, spending a month during the height of summer constrained to a mattress is particularly unusual for me — not to mention quite testing.
So, why have I been living on a bed for the last month or so?
In short, I severely herniated a disc in my lower back and also broke off a separate chunk of disc, freeing it to float around irritating my nerves and spine.
Naturally, this type of thing causes issues.
In this case, it’s caused excruciating pain down my right side and the loss of sensation in my right foot. Plus, it’s resulted in an inability to sleep, move around, or find a comfortable position in which to remain still.
Along with the physical issues it’s lead to quite a number of mental and emotional challenges as well.
Saving further details for later, the occurrence of this incident offers a great reminder.
The complacency and preparedness reminder
These disc issues reminded me that things can happen in life at any time.
Due to prior preparation, like mindful meditation, I gave myself some tools to better handle this challenge. At the same time though, this challenge made it clear that had I practiced more diligently I could handle things even better — and perhaps avoid this particular challenge altogether.
In short, life reminded me to…
Expect and prepare for unanticipated challenges and difficulties in life.
These challenges can range in severity, type, and form.
They can come at any time, there can be more than one at once, and they often feel like they will last forever.
At the same time though:
- there are always good things in life,
- you are not alone,
- all things pass and great things are coming,
- these challenges are opportunities in their own ways,
- and the lessons and strengths these challenges provide can make your life richer and you stronger.
Additionally, you can prepare for the unexpected, and face unforeseen challenges with strength and resilience.
Expect and prepare for unexpected challenges
While expecting the unexpected sounds antithetical, by preparing properly you can better handle the unplanned.
Just like how you can get ready for a long road trip by doing essential maintenance, and loading the car with water, food, blankets, and an emergency kit, you can equip yourself for life’s journey and it’s unexpected twists, turns, and bumps.
Prepare and practice now, regardless of whether anything is currently happening or not.
When you prepare and live in such a way, you can meet new and ongoing challenges with greater resourcefulness, calmness, and balance.
Consistency is important
Through consistent practice, it’s easier to adjust your perspective during difficult times, and to remain more stable and grounded.
My recent spinal challenge illuminated this for me.
Prior preparation made it easier and quicker for me to adjust my mindset, outlook, and perspective for the better, thus reducing my suffering.
At the same time, a recent lack of consistency in my practices resulted in a greater depth to my mental suffering and a slower shift in my perspective than otherwise could have been the case.
As a result, I suffered more, was more negative, and reacted more poorly to my circumstances. With that I brought negativity to those around me, and made their own situations more difficult.
Additionally, had I been more consistent practicing, I would have been more mindful in each moment, and potentially could have avoided this whole situation.
At this point though, I can at least take a large number of important lessons and reminders from this experience.
We all face challenges in life, and by knowing what others face we gain useful insights and grow greater empathy and understanding.
Recently, I’ve been facing some challenges in life which offer useful lessons and reminders.
One reminder from my lumbar disc issues is that unexpected challenges can appear at any point in our life, and we are wise to prepare for such things.
With preparation, practice, and consistency we build strength, resilience, and an ability to better interact with the challenges that crop up in life.
For that reason it’s useful to practice mindfulness, actively look for gratitude, remember that things could be worse, and to know you are not alone.
Key mindset shift:
- Expect and prepare for the unexpected.
Realizations to consider:
- It’s possible to prepare and expect the unexpected challenges we encounter in life.
- Through preparation and practice we build greater strength and resilience.
- Consistency is important and hugely beneficial.
Actions to take:
- Practice mindfulness.
- Actively look for gratitude.
- Remind yourself that unexpected things can happen, and things can be worse.
- Remind yourself that you are not alone.
- Find the lessons in the challenges you are facing.
Fellow Journeyer @ BigSkyRise
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