The suffering is in the lack of awareness
Do you find yourself in periods where things just flow gently, or you are uncharacteristically short tempered or you are just drained and can’t do anything? Have you perhaps also noticed that these experiences are cyclical? Before I started my journey of reflection, I did not notice it. Before that journey I would often fight against these cycles as I wasn’t in control of them, nor did I understand them. It became my first lessons in resistance, patience and trust.
In my experience our personal evolution and transformation goes through cycles with three stages; growth, rest/recovery and integration. The cycles, and indeed the stages, can last varying times depending on how well we go through them. I have also observed that we are supported in our cycles to help us move through them and to be aware of them. Where this support comes from I will leave up to the reader, but it is clearly there, beyond any statistical probability of coincidence.
To most, this is the most challenging stage. It is where we are challenged and triggered to learn about ourselves. The world that we attract outside ourselves is there to support our learning. It shows up so that we may experience ourselves in reference to a wide variety of people, things, emotions, experiences, places. etc. We will have our shadow aspects revealed to ourselves. When you are in it, many times it feels like the end of the earth and that you will never recover from it. Other times you are just slightly overwhelmed by the emotions that come up within you and you think, speak and/or act in a way that is not desirable. Either of these scenarios and anything in between are opportunities for growth.
It could be that you snap at your partner and you regret it and contemplate the source of your short-temperedness and seek to heal that source (core wounding). If you fail to recognise your lesson, you miss your opportunity for growth and another opportunity will be around the corner. However, if you do realise your part in the experience and what you can learn about yourself you have just completed a level and you have grown.
It is the string of growth that enables transformation and evolution of the individual. Your mindset and resourcing in the growth period will determine your “suffering” in the growth stage. When you are aware that you are in the growth stage, you can choose to perceive the triggers from your awareness and not attach to the experience. this is where you can choose your thoughts, words and actions. If you choose to think of your experience in terms of compassion, acceptance, forgiveness and gratitude you will not attach the suffering and you can perceive it from you awareness and not amplify the pain. Every time you grow you also establish and become familiar with your boundaries and find your balance where you are in your strength and authenticity.
Rest and Recovery
The growth stage can take a lot out of you and you will need your rest and recovery time. Many who are not aware will go into a bit of a panic in this stage. The reason is that the universe is supporting you and suddenly you will see things clear off your schedule; appointments, travel and visits being cancelled, blocks in receiving pieces of information preventing you from progressing your project, and so forth. This is where people scramble to fill their diary or find solutions to the blocks, whereas they are supposed to just allow this unexpected freed up time to be allocated to their rest and recovery.
This is the opportunity to spend time in nature, do gentle exercise (yoga, qigong, etc.), read, study, meditate, journal, reflect, etc. You may also find that you need an additional on to two hours of sleep per night during this period if it is lasting a bit longer. Use it to find balance in your life.
As they say, “resistance is futile”. When you are in this stage and you work against the natural progression by not resting, you are in fact resisting. If you would like to learn more about resistance, check out this article and podcast: “Resistance”. Resistance will only bring about more of what you don’t want, and you will find yourself right back in the Growth stage, because now you are learning about resistance, trust, patience, intuition, etc. As you can see, many who are unaware of themselves end up in a perpetual loop between “Growth” and “Rest and Recovery”, never getting the rest they need until they crash and hit rock bottom, where the options to choose are limited to the point where there seemingly is only one path forward.
If you are able to identify this stage and avail yourself of the gifts of time that you have coming to you, the rewards will be plentiful. You will start to assimilate and embody the learning that you took on in the Growth stage.
The final stage in this transformational cycle is “Integration”. This is the time for action. You will be given opportunities to apply what you learned in the Growth stage. If you have taken advantage of the two previous stages you will start seeing flow in aspects of your life where you previously experienced blocks and resistance, in particular relating to the lessons you learned. You will feel more empowered and energised, allowing your projects and experiences to manifest quicker and easier. Whereas in Growth you would say, “Why me?”, in Integration you say “This is too good to be true!”.
Now if you haven’t quite learned the lesson you were given the opportunity to in Growth, it might now show up again and you might be triggered by it and will have a mini cycle within Integration. If you have learned your lesson you simply won’t be triggered and you will recognise the embodiment and integration of the lesson. Once it does appear and you recognise it, journal about it and show it gratitude.
Take good care of the Integration stage, this is where the magic happens and you are rewarded for your hard work. Unfortunately, it won’t remain forever, unless you have now truly reached enlightenment, in which case, I congratulate you. For the rest of us, before we know it, another growth period starts.
The transformational cycle
If you are aware of the cycle and have the ability to identify what stage you are in, you are good to go. However, most of us aren’t even aware that we move through these cycles, continuously. So, if you were one of those people, you have this excuse no longer, you have now been made aware. The next step in working with this cycle is a little more involved; noticing the stages. Building up the skill of noticing the various stages is akin to building up your intuition. In my practice it is a matter of learning how to observe your experiences from the perspective of your awareness and identifying patterns and questioning everything. Patience, trust and perseverance are necessary to, a) build up the practice, but b) also to accept and allow yourself to be fully present in each of the stages. You don’t want to run away from your lessons, but rather be present, nor resisting the rest and recovery, but be in full acceptance. The Integration is a little easier, because you are then in flow. However, it is important to accept that it is cyclical and that you will eventually begin a new cycle, i.e. the good times do end, but if you are willing, they will come around again.
There is no set time for the cycles nor for the individual stages. They can last an hour and then reset, or years, it is entirely up to you how you work the process. The individual stages may vary in length as well. Because of this unpredictability, it is all the more important to train yourself to recognise and to work with the cycle and the stages. It is unavoidable, but with the right perception you will flow through it with ease, contentment and acceptance.
Be aware and observe without judgment and allow the gifts to be revealed to you.
Also published on Medium.