Finding Benefit in Misfortune

A spiritual teacher introduced to me the idea that one’s practice is actually easier when things are going well. The spiritual strength developed during good times and neutral times helps during crises. We worked all month dedicating things like brushing our teeth and eating to our growth.

Another spiritual teacher taught me that any crisis can be dedicated to one’s growth. This shifts you out of victimhood and into resourcefulness. He referred to it as inner-alchemy–as turning lead into gold.

During one of the roughest times in my life, these teachings gave me presence of mind. I was married to a woman who was addicted to anger. She got angry every day, usually over small stuff. Rather than feeling victimized, I decided I would practice being calm in the face of her anger.

I would make sure my breathing was deep, remind myself that it was her problem and not mine and I would meditate. After a year and a half, we separated. Several people commented on the change in me. I was much more relaxed than I was before my marriage. I used the crisis of my marriage to change in a positive way. Had I not practiced during the happy times and the neutral times, I couldn’t have done it.

©2016 Stephen L. Martin

Painting: The Alchemist in Search of the Philosopher’s Stone by Joseph Wright

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