Growth is a very profound experience. It can be, beautiful and ugly, empowering and confining, thought-provoking and mind-boggling, pleasant and unpleasant, all at the same time. And just when we think we’ve got it, life seems to say, “Well, now, take this!” And so, we do. And the minute we are ready to throw our hands up, give up, or beat up on ourselves, we realize that we haven’t done so badly after all. We know we have grown when we are able to meet a challenge, an obstacle, or a different difficulty without totally losing it. And during our growth process, we realize that the more we grow and the more we know, the more we are encouraged to grow and to know.
Every Day is a New Beginning. Every single day we have a new chance to unfold. There is always more about the world to understand. And likewise, on a daily basis, more people come into our lives, helping us to gain more knowledge about ourselves through our experiences with them. We are continually reminded that we owe it to ourselves to do all we can to prepare ourselves to receive these new insights. There is so much more well-being, peace and joy waiting for us then we can ever imagine.
Examining ourselves, what we do, and how we feel, can be one of the most challenging and frightening things we will ever face during our lifetime. The journey into self-acceptance and self-love must begin with self-examination. And until we take that journey of self-reflection, it is nearly impossible to grow or to learn in life.
Life is so wonderful! It is always offering us the opportunity to improve upon ourselves and to grow. We all have a few different ‘selves’ that we have come to know. Each of these selves make up the landscape of who we each are, and of who we are constantly striving to transform to be. Each self shows itself at various points of the day, depending on how we choose to present ourselves at any given moment.
First, there is the self that we want others to see – the public self. The self of majestic mountain peaks and lush meadows. The self of strength and of power; of educational and career accomplishments, leadership skills and the demonstrated commitment to service.
Then, there is the self that does not want to be revealed. This is the landscape of weakness. There are many valleys and few peaks in this self. This self, incorporates our secret thoughts and beliefs of who we are, and we do not share this self with others. We travel with this self in times of darkness, fear, and through experiences of worthlessness and hopelessness. But this self also guides us to the places of the truest teachings, learning, and growth.
This self includes such places as the swamp of self-deception, selfishness, and egotism. Procrastination, laziness, and lack of self-discipline also breed here. And nearby lies the valley of self-doubt, littered with fear, anxiety about failing, and insecurities. Anger surrounds this valley of self-doubt, giving rise to self-hatred and resentment, creating sandstorms of jealousy, meanness, and envy. This landscape of self can be self-destructive and nonproductive.
During this process of learning about ourselves, we can learn to identify both our weaknesses and our strengths. This brings us to our third self – a place of beautiful, inspiring scenery, scenes of dreams and aspirations. We all have the right to dream our dreams and to aspire to the goals that we have created for ourselves. We must stand boldly in this landscape, dreaming joy-filled dreams and devoting ourselves to making them a reality. Once we do this, we will see lush, sunlit hillside terraces of hope, sandy white beaches of confidence, floral gardens of self-love, and mountains of faith in our ability to have it all. In this place of dreams, we sing and we dance with delight, visit breathtaking sites of peace, walking on an abundantly wealthy earth, talking to G-d in silence. Here, in this self, we learn new things, teach new things, all the while creating objects of beauty, loving others, and being loved passionately. This is the landscape of happiness. “I am just as I am, and as I become, I am.”
In the landscape of dreams, there is the horizon of aspiration. Here we can teach, and support others, all the while connecting with G-d. As we learn and teach, we can share with others.
We learn and we grow from walking through each self, whether it be dark or bright. Isn’t it amazing that we go to so many dark places just to find the light we’ve always had? We run from ourselves just to find ourselves once again.
To grow and to expand ourselves requires a willingness, an openness, and a readiness to embrace the truth. It is a process of opening ourselves to receive what already is. G-d’s goodness and love already exists. The minute we believe that we know it all, have it all figured out, or that something about life does not apply to us, we cannot know the truth. But when we devote time to knowing the truth, all else that we need has a way of finding us. We often work so hard trying to get the things in which we want, that we miss the fact that it is the landscape of our inner world that stands between us and true happiness. Once we become devoted to healing our inner world, loving and honoring ourselves, and using that love as the standard by which we interact with others, all the riches of this life will fall into our laps. This is our journey, our journey of self-discovery – learning to love and to honor ourselves from the inside to the outside.
We must acknowledge, accept, and embrace the Divine in all things that we do. When we breathe, move, eat, speak – when we think about where we need to be and what we need to do – that is the Divine inside all of us, giving us the power to take our thoughts and translate them into action. We do not need to go someplace special to find the power, strength, and love of the Divine, for it lives inside of each one of us.
What is your spiritual plan? Do you have a clear vision about where you are headed spiritually? Do you know where you want to be? How to get there? Do you know how to achieve the spiritual stamina required to move ahead in the world? You cannot have one without the other. You cannot achieve success without spiritual strength. What is spiritual strength? How do you achieve it? Maintain it? When was the last time you asked yourself any of these questions? How can you make a spiritual plan without the answers to these questions?
A spiritual plan is a statement of clear intention about what you desire to experience within yourself and a clear definition of what you must do to make it happen. A spiritual plan is not only about prayer and meditation, but about action – what you will and will not do, what you can and cannot do, in order to achieve your spiritual goal. A spiritual plan requires you to take an in-depth and honest look at where you are and make an accurate assessment of how you arrived there. Then you must determine if this is where you want to be, and if not, what you must eliminate, or incorporate, in order to move forward. These examinations and resolutions must be made by yourself, with yourself, and for yourself.
Devote yourself to examining what you are going through and planning how you want to go through it. Your spirit cannot show you the way until you are clear about the direction you want to travel.