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Challenge Is Freedom

 

Listening to a recent Sounds True podcast interview with Heatherash Amara, my perception of challenge has been altered forever. Usually when the word “challenge” surfaces, I feel a tightness in my gut and clutching of breath. However, instead of viewing challenge as a setback, I’ve learned to look at places of possible difficulty with softer eyes and a curious heart, where freedom is the gift of emergence.

We all have a variety of challenges in life. Money, health, relationships, career, family, the list is endless. Have you ever made a pie chart of your life and allocated a percentage of sections to just how much time, energy and effort is dedicated to each area? If not, give it an honest try and really see what is in or out of balance. The moment life’s challenges create a setback in personal growth and progress, it is time to dig into the wells of courage to be a catalyst for change. The power to cultivate change comes when challenge arises, ultimately guiding us to a liberating freedom.

There is no substitute for hard work. Growing up as an athlete, all I knew was how to maintain a focused work ethic. Work hard on the court, in school, in life and you’ll get ahead. Well that formula was a recipe for disaster throughout my mid-twenties. A cross country move, heartache, failure, sickness, grief, loss, false truths, self-sabotage, all surfaced to remind me the way I was living was not the best way to be ALIVE. As I slowly climb into my upper 30’s, it has taken a dedicated amount of time to unlearn the learned behavior of always working hard and trying to get ahead instead of appreciating exactly where life has landed me.

Below are a few strategies to help anyone rise from challenge info freedom:

Don’t rely upon others for approval.

The only person worth impressing is yourself. This is not about “physical” approval, but how to trust your instinct. Learn to grow self-confidence and it starts when you decide that YOU ARE ENOUGH.

Get Moving.

It doesn’t matter what kind of movement this involves: yoga, ping-pong, tai chi, walking, surf, ballroom dance, just make it HAPPEN. The body serves as a conduit to move energy that limits stagnation. Movement makes you feel good and enhances the years to quality of life.

Eye Contact.

If you have yet to ever look into someone else’s eyes for one minute, do this now. There is an amazing video that demonstrates the deepest power of connection and how it improves relationships. We go through this life wanting to be seen. How can we be seen if our own gaze cannot be felt or seen by others?

Go beyond the comfort zone.

Vulnerability 101. It sucks. It makes you squirm, flustered, uneasy, but that is the gateway to truth. The moment you feel like running away, is the exact moment to run towards it. It takes practice, courage, and a willingness to be open without expectation. Give it a try trust the outcome.

Gratitude Offering.

A teacher of mine helped me institute a daily gratitude practice. At that time of my life, meditation was a bit to “new age” for me because I was completely ignorant of what time alone with my thoughts was truly about. But this simple offering consisted of gathering as many pebbles as I could hold into the palm of my hand and then tossing each small stone that represented a thought of gratitude about someone or something into a small dish. This simple act served as a daily reset button to remind me that no matter how difficult my challenge, situation or circumstances may have appeared to be at the time, there is ALWAYS something greater to be grateful for.

Fake it until you make it.

Yep that’s right! Believe it-See it-Do it-Become it. Make it a science experiment to let go of a negative mindset of beliefs or self defeating dialogue that holds you back from investigating potential.

What are you learning?

I am in the midst learning guitar! Even though acquiring a new skill involves time and may be challenging at times, remove the film of defeat by putting yourself out there and trying. Learning opens the floodgates to new discovery, unfed passions, and missing links. Especially now that we don’t have to be enrolled in school (unless it by choice), the acquisition of knowledge is a powerful keystone to propel ordinary to extraordinary.

Springboard.

Go jump on one, a trampoline, or a po-go stick. At the moment of descend, there is science designed within the coiled spring action to propel force back upward. This is a replica of our intrinsic nature; to bounce back. To get back to the top, there is an unwavering sensation of uncertainty between start and end points—and that is the place of our truth.

Revisit curiosity.

Is it time to start questioning why you believe what you do and is there another set of lenses to look at life? By getting curious about our personal “why”, we are transformed into a call of action. Does this belief hold you back? Are you reliant upon the outcome of the belief? If “yes”, then maybe investigate deeper with an open heart. Try listening to others viewpoint, read a new blog or column, watch a foreign film, and seek access to cultures other than your own. We are vessels of light waiting to shine from what is gained when curiosity is peaked.

Love.

With compassion and an open heart. If love can be given in the same token as it is wished to be received, unconditionally and truthfully, then the path to freedom is inevitable. It takes courage, strength, and wisdom to learn to love oneself, but start there. Make it simple and full of indulgent pleasure. The gift of self-love will unfold the all challenges into freedom.