We are in a world of crisis, from economic collapse to environmental decay to climate change to war, hunger and poverty. If today’s headlines make you wonder about the fate of our planet, here is some news that may surprise you: from an evolutionary standpoint, we are exactly where we need to be.
Contrary to what conventional science and religion have been telling us, evolution is neither random nor predetermined, but rather an intelligent dance between organism and environment. When conditions are ripe—either through crisis or opportunity—something unpredictable happens to bring the biosphere into a new balance at a higher level of coherence.
The good news in the bad news is that frontier science offers both the hope and challenge that we can safely navigate this dark passage to a healthier sustainable future. Advances in epigenetics, quantum biophysics and fractal geometry reveal civilization is poised on the threshold of a major evolutionary event.
“ Life is messy, tragic, terrifying, but also unbelievably breathtaking. There are deep gifts hidden in the most demanding challenges that life throws at us. In a time of crisis, gratitude is the key to opening your heart and unlocking the magic contained in these truly profound gifts.” - Jan Desai
In the ring stands a boxer. He is clearly exhausted. In the early rounds of the match, he was a fighter. Then, there was a hope of winning. That hope now seems long gone. Now, the boxer is simply trying to survive. Cut and bleeding, he attempts to defend himself. Taking one body blow after another, he endures the punishment, waiting for the sound of the bell.
Does life sometimes leave you feeling like this boxer? Are you dazed and exhausted, struggling to navigate your way through whatever challenge or crisis you are facing? Do the overwhelming negative emotions that you are experiencing feel like crushing blows? Are you barely enduring, waiting for some relief, believing that you may never find your footing again? If so...come sit next to me!
Life can seem like a brutal and overwhelming opponent. Believe me, I know this feeling firsthand. One doesn’t make it into their sixth decade without experiencing a multitude of potential knock-outs. Death. Divorce. Illness. Infertility. Depression. Addiction. Really, any kind of loss is like an unexpected sucker-punch. You don’t see it coming and, when it hits, you are overwhelmed by the crushing unfairness that sends you reeling into the darkness.
How I Made it Through My Toughest Fights
Let me share my toughest fights with you. Let me be completely transparent about how I’ve felt during these insurmountable times. Let me show you how I’ve made it through to the other side. My prayer is that, in doing so, you will no longer feel completely alone. In fact, I hope you recognize my words as those of a dear friend who is reaching out a hand in recognition, comfort, love and inspiration.
I just returned from lecturing at Tilton School, the NH school I attended as a student during my high school years and where my dad taught for nearly four decades. Being there now, talking with students and teachers, gave me a new perspective on the problems we face: climate change, US politics, international relations, gender issues, global poverty, and many more. I also was reminded that at Tilton I received an education that opened me to critical thinking, and I saw that the school continues to do that for students today.
Among the most important lessons I learned at Tilton that forever shaped my life: We humans have survived many crises; culture and history are changed by the written word – perception – more than by the gun and sword; and it is imperative for us always to explore the truths behind the “facts.”
As I wandered around campus this past week, I came upon a photograph of my dad outside his old classroom. The accompanying acknowledgement of his contributions to the school reminded me of his long view of history. I sat down in a nearby chair, opened my computer and wrote:
During troubled times, like the ones our country – our world – is experiencing, we may take comfort in the knowledge that we’ve staggered close to the brink before, and pulled back.
In the face of a crisis—whether the loss of a job, the end of a relationship, a betrayal or a financial setback—the human mind has a tendency to react in conditioned, limited ways that usually only intensify our pain. We may ruminate on the past, getting stuck in feelings of resentment, regret or self-pity. Or we may project into the future, getting caught up in fears and worst-case scenarios. Instead of becoming trapped in the mind’s repetitive and ultimately self-defeating thought loops, you can use the following three mantras to move through a difficult situation and return to your innate state of balance and well-being.
Everything that happens in your life is happening for you. Life is a series of situations that are being created for your awakening. Your destiny is unfolding perfectly for you to return to connection to your essential Self.
Everyone’s life has a destiny which is playing out in harmony with all things. But you have a limited perspective from which you judge everything. When an extreme situation arises in your life you judge it from a human perspective and label it a crises. You see it in a limited perspective. You personalize the situation.
Crisis is accelerated change and change is the vehicle for expansion and evolution to march forward.
Crisis tests your humanity. It is the ultimate trigger for both bringing into awareness what needs resolution and also who you really are; peace, love, abundance, bliss and well-being. Dramatic times create the opening for leaps in expanding awareness. Welcome them, even in the midst of your fear, pain, heart-break and loss. Crisis opens you to seeing deeply.
When we are going through a difficult period in our lives, or are dealing with a crisis, it can feel like our lives are over. I’m sure that these last few months have felt very challenging for you, as they have for me, with the hurricanes, fires, earthquakes and, the most recent, the shooting in Vegas! During these challenging times, many well-meaning people will say things like “well, everything happens for a reason,” or “behind every gray cloud, there’s a silver lining.” Oftentimes, it is these types of statements that make us want to scream at the top of our lungs, “you just don’t understand, nothing will ever be the same” or “leave me alone … you have no idea.”
When we are in the midst of such periods, these age-old sayings can be difficult to hear, and even more difficult to believe. I get it. I have been the one to say it … and the one to scream … all at different times.
But, what if it were true? What if everything really does happen for a reason? What if we lived from a perspective that every experience that we have in life is designed to be an opportunity for growth, expansion, awareness, and dare it be said … for Love?
Most of us have, at some point in our lives, been lucky enough to have had some rough patches; but, experiences that, when looked back upon, can be seen with appreciation. Others have lived through downright catastrophes – where there seems to be no good reason whatsoever. Broken hearts, financial ruin, abuse or even the death of a loved one can leave us with more questions than answers. The why’s of it all, no doubt, cause pain, sadness, anger, illness and depression. We all see these challenges differently. For some, the pain is so devastating that they can’t get out of bed; while others can take what happened, and turn that energy into motivation. Why such different responses in similar circumstances?
Hurricanes like Irma, Maria, and Harvey embody this extreme aspect of Shiva. Monumental raging winds and rising water completely obliterate the old, often leaving thousands homeless and grieving the deaths of friends and family. In the aftermath, something new is eventually created, but loss of home and loss of life are not easily assimilated or accepted. Those affected may experience emotional trauma as well as financial burdens. These human crises break our hearts. How do we face life at times like these?