When we acknowledge that all of life is sacred and that each act is an act of choice and therefore sacred, then life is a sacred dance lived consciously each moment. When we live at this level, we participate in the creation of a better world.

    - Scout Cloud Lee

    It is difficult to accept that life is difficult; that love is not easy and doubt and struggle, suffering and failure are inevitable for each of us.

    We seek life's ease. We yearn for joy and although we may find these in abundance we also find ourselves lying awake at night possessed by the terrible fear that life is impossible. When we least expect it we are overwhelmed by a massive sense of loneliness, misery, chaos and death: appalled by the agony and futility of existence. It is difficult to accept that this darkness belongs naturally to our human condition and that we must live and bear it.

    Nature, requires that we have the darkness of our painful feelings and that we respect it and make a bold place for it in our lives. Without its recognition and acceptance there can be no true sense of life's great depth, wherein lies our capacity to love, create and make meaning. The feelings of light and darkness must cross-pollinate and inform each other and so the soul be enlivened and strong.

    - Sitting Owl from Leunig.

    The great Indian pandita Aryadeva once said that to merely question that things might not be as they seem can shake the very foundation of habitual clinging. This questioning spirit is the starting point for self-reflection. Could it be that this tightly knit sense of self is not what it seems? Do we really need to hold everything together, and can we? Is there life beyond self-importance? These kinds of questions open the door to investigating the cause of our pain.

    ~ It's Up to You

    ~Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche

    Anais Nin said it so beautifully "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."

    It is time we step out of our own way and step outside our comfort zones, allowing us to change, grow, and transform.

    Photographer Unknown

    You are cut off from Being as long as your mind takes up all your attention.

    When this happens β€” and it happens continuously for most people β€” you are not in your body. The mind absorbs all your consciousness and transforms it into mind stuff. You cannot stop thinking.

    Compulsive thinking has become a collective disease. Your whole sense of who you are is then derived from mind activity. Your identity, as it is no longer rooted in Being, becomes a vulnerable and ever-needy mental construct, which creates fear as the predominant underlying emotion.

    The one thing that truly matters is then missing from your life: awareness of your deeper self β€” your invisible and indestructible reality.

    Eckhart Tolle

    We all experience pain and suffering in life. Heartache, loss, betrayal, disappointment. When we're in the depths of it, it can be hard to see how you can ever recover from such a deep pain. The idea that you might one day be grateful for your disappointment and hurt seems unthinkable. Yet, we always have a choice. Even in our pain we have a choice to make. We get to decide whether we will take the opportunity and grow, or whether we will let it consume us. I by no means intend to make this seem simple; it may be the hardest thing you will ever do. But your pain may also be the thing that pushes you towards your greatest personal breakthroughs.

    Glennon Doyle Melton described it as:

    "Pain is a traveling professor and it goes and knocks on everyones door. The smartest people I know are the people who say, come in and don't leave until you have taught me what I need to know."

    It is our hurt that has the ability to crack us open and let the light in. It is our pain that can help move us towards living a more deeply fulfilling life.

    There is a psychological idea known as Post-Traumatic Growth. We are all familiar with its cousin, post-traumatic stress. Post-traumatic growth isn't discussed as frequently, but it is the concept that explains how many of us take our pain and use it as the energy to grow psychologically.

    "Post-traumatic growth is not about returning to the same life as it was previously experienced before a period of traumatic suffering; but rather it is about undergoing significant 'life-changing' psychological shifts in thinking and relating to the world, that contribute to a personal process of change, that is deeply meaningful." (Tedeshi & Calhoun, 2004).

    We should employ our minds as a mirror. It grasps nothing, it refuses nothing. It receives but does not keep. The wild geese do not intend to cast their reflection on the lake and the water has no mind to retain their image. To be able to drift like a cloud and flow like water. Seeing that all life is a magnificent illusion, a playing of energy, and there is absolutely nothing fundamentally to be afraid of. - Alan Watts

    Photgrapher Christopher McKenny

    And while we are at it; let's take time to look in the mirror and gift ourselves the same gift. The gift of loving ourselves. And if we are not there yet, to extend to ourselves the grace to start trying to work towards it.

    "Self-approval and self-acceptance in the now are the main keys to positive changes in every area of our lives." - Louise Hay