I remember the ten-speed bike I had as a girl. It was red with purple accents, and it seemed so grown up compared to the bike I'd had previously. The brakes were controlled by hand as opposed to pedaling backwards, and controlling the bike with gears was totally new to me. Two friends who lived on the same cul-de-sac and were my same age also got ten-speeds about the same time as me. We loved riding around the neighborhood together, edging further and further from the familiarity of our culture-de-sac and onto streets unknown to us.
I really didn't understand the purpose of the gears, but through experimentation I realized gear one made pedaling really easy. I tried the higher gears, but I didn't understand why I would ever choose to put myself through the effort required of them! I vaguely remember being advised to stick to a middle gear unless I "needed" the others at specific times, but I threw that advice out the window when I experienced the nearly non-existent resistance of gear one.
As my two friends and I began branching out from our little cul-de-sac and exploring the other parts of our neighborhood, our cycling behaviors changed. We were covering bigger differences for longer stretches of times, and I began to notice how much faster they were than me! I would pedal, pedal, pedal, and get a fraction of the distance that they got with less pedaling. It took me a while to understand that I kept falling behind because my gear was too low. I needed more resistance to be able to go further. I needed the higher gears to advance.
And such it is with life. We can tailor our lives so we are met with mostly ease all day long, day after day. Maybe we have stayed too long in a job which doesn't demand our best, and we move through the workday without much thought or interest. Perhaps we spend far too many hours each day scrolling through social media, YouTube, or watching TV. Maybe the bulk of our waking hours are fixated on other people - what they are doing, wearing, saying - and we let this distract us from the work we are here to do on ourselves. There are countless ways we can move thoughtlessly through the world, allowing ourselves to be distracted by outer things and thus not introspecting and growing as we might otherwise.
In yogic tradition (and many others), it is said that we are all here for a purpose. The purpose is individual - we aren't all meant to discover the theory of relativity, for instance - but we all have lessons to learn through this incarnation. The way we learn our lessons, the way our souls grow and mature, is through experience. The lessons we get the most from typically aren't fun or easy, they are painful. The things which really grab ahold of us and snap us to attention are usually things we wouldn't choose - the death of a loved one, a serious illness, a broken relationship, the loss of a job, a fire, an accident, and so on. These are things anyone would resist going through. But what if the worst things you have gone through are the perfect alchemy to deliver you to the best you can get from this life? What if it's a cleverly disguised present from the universe to allow you to experience growth which wouldn't be possible with comfort?
Yogic masters say that for a soul to evolve, it must neutralize all its karma from all incarnations. The soul will only be free when it has paid all karmic debts and released all desires. Paying off incarnations of karma takes work! Riding around life in first gear isn't going to do very much to advance the soul. We need those higher gears which make us work a little harder in order to advance our souls. Trust in the universe when you are going through a difficult patch that you are in fact being held and watched over. That higher intelligent power which flows through everything is seeking to help you get what you came here for by giving you the exact opportunity to experience what you need to experience to work through your lessons. This is not to say that you are enduring any type of "punishment" when you go through something painful. What can feel like pain and sacrifice can be just what the soul needs for progression.
I am an Ananda® certified meditation teacher. I am passionate about meditation and embrace a yogic lifestyle for greater wellness physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
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