2020 has been a challenging year. We have never in our lifetime seen a global pandemic that’s disrupted our lives to this extent, caused so much suffering, and forced us to adapt to an entirely new way of navigating the world.
To add to the chaos, the U.S. (and much of the world) has been undergoing a tense political and economic climate that’s only further contributed to feelings of stress, fear, and anger among so many people. While we each have our own personal experience of the world we live in, it’s safe to say that everyone has been affected in one way or another.
As students of Qi Gong, we’re constantly seeking to apply the practice’s principles in our everyday lives. With 2020 drawing to a close and a new year standing before us, we’re faced with a beautiful opportunity to transform the previous year’s adversity into renewed strength and power for our path ahead. In this post, we’ll discuss the principle of transformation from a Chinese Medicine perspective, as well as share a meditation to help you embody the process.
Using Adversity as Compost for Growth
There is a martial arts view that sees adversity is an essential component of growth. In fact, many believe that without adversity growth isn’t possible.
Growing from challenges is clearly evident in a world of strength and fitness. Track athletes increase their stamina by running long distances. Weight lifters build physical power by working out and pushing their bodies. Rock climbers cultivate ligament strength by hanging from their fingertips in a highly calculated manner. Gymnasts practice a variety of stretches and exercises in order to cultivate the physical qualities necessary for the sport.
When done properly, athletes are able to experience incremental increases in their physical capabilities by challenging their bodies. While most people don’t train for “emotional gymnastics,” the same principles that apply to building physical strength also apply to cultivating inner power.
Choosing to view life’s challenges as opportunities for growth opens up an entirely new realm of possibilities. Instead of seeing setbacks as something that permanently detracts from our happiness and wellbeing, we can view them as valuable lessons that provide inner fuel for growth, just as compost provides fresh soil for flowers to grow in the garden. In a very real sense, life adversity can serve the same purpose for our mind and emotions as exercise does for our body.
There are several ways we can seek to compost the past year’s challenges into strength and power. While we would all love for there to be a quick, simple way to immediately transform suffering into permanent peace and bliss, the journey of transformation requires a bit of dedication. In fact, many of the strategies for inner growth are similar to those used by athletes for physical fitness—they need regular and consistent practice. Here are a few ways you can embrace adversity:
- View adversity as an opportunity to learn about your limitations.
Adversity can be a great teacher, especially when it comes to understanding your limitations. If an experience was especially challenging in a particular way, perhaps it’s a good idea to give yourself some extra attention in that area.
One of the gifts of adversity is that it allows us to reflect on our own response to it. What can we learn about ourselves when things are difficult? Are there any qualities we can cultivate in order to be better prepared for future challenges? These are important questions to ask when we find ourselves in uncomfortable situations.
Through self-reflection, we can gain valuable insights into areas of ourselves we’d like to focus on. This can result in immense growth emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
- Know when your energy is depleted.
In reflecting on your limitations, it’s also important to acknowledge when your energy is depleted. If you find yourself struggling to keep up with the challenges you’re faced with, it might be a good idea to take a break and replenish your energy…
- Have a replenishing strategy.
Having a replenishing strategy is essential for not being overwhelmed or overrun when things get difficult. Often, the difference between a setback and a growth opportunity is simply the way in which the experience is received.
Your replenishing strategy is completely personal to you, but there are a few activities that most people find deeply nourishing. Spending time in nature is one way to naturally let go of stress and absorb the abundance of Qi that is constantly surrounding us. Sometimes, even just a brief walk outside can bring about a complete shift in your mind and emotions.
Another wonderful strategy is to turn to Qi Gong. If you find yourself feeling stressed out or anxious, Qi Gong can be a powerful tool to transform those feelings into calm and focused energy. Of course, Lee offers many great programs that you can use to guide your practice.
- Focus on what inspires you.
Lastly, it’s important to focus your mind on ideas or visions that excite and inspire you. When you turn your attention toward an uplifting vision of the present or future, it can create an immediate change in how you feel in the ‘here and now.’
Focusing on positive thoughts doesn’t mean avoiding unpleasant experiences when they arise. Honoring our sadness, grief, or anger are also important steps in moving through and transforming those feelings. However, once we’ve held space and processed them, it’s time to use them to create a positive and empowering vision of the future we want to create.
Since visualization is such a powerful tool for working with energy, we decided to offer a brief visualization meditation with the intention of transforming the adversity of 2020 into strength and power that we can take forward into 2021.
Guided Meditation to Transform Adversity into Strength and Power
Sit or lay in a comfortable position. You can be seated in a chair, on the floor, or laying on the ground on your back. Just find a position that works well for you and your body.
Start by taking some slow, deep breaths. Try to relax your mind and just pay attention to each inhale and exhale.
Now, let your mind gaze back at the past year. Allow yourself to see the challenges or pain you experienced, and imagine them as compost in a beautiful garden. Take some deep breaths as you create a vivid image in your mind of the soil in front of you.
Next, start to craft a vision of what you want to create for yourself. What is exciting to you? What really inspires you? What brings you joy? Whatever it is that you want to create in 2021, imagine it blossoming into your life.
Try to see your vision as vividly as possible. Think about the visual appearance, sounds, and smells associated with your vision, as well as the people who are there sharing it with you. Allow your heart to be filled with love and joy as you fully appreciate the reality of your vision.
Once you’ve made that vision clear in your mind, start to imagine beautiful flowers growing in the compost before you. View the flowers as the coming to life of the vision you just created, springing forth from the composted experiences of the past.
Lastly, try to connect with a deep sense of gratitude for the possibility of manifesting that vision. Imagine for a second that the vision has already come to fruition and let yourself experience the appreciation you have for it.
When you’re ready, open your eyes and begin to move forward in your life with renewed strength and confidence in your ability to create what your heart truly desires.
Qi Gong for Visualization and Manifestation Workshop
If you’re interested in learning more powerful practices for turning the past year’s experiences into fuel for your future, we have a special opportunity for you.
At Holden QiGong, we’re happy to offer Lee’s special workshop: Qi Gong for Visualization and Manifestation. During this experience, students will learn how to use the principles of Qi Gong to set clear intentions and manifest their visions.
This is a prerecorded workshop so students can practice anytime they choose from the comfort of their own home. Click on the banner below to learn more!