• Cindy Mundahl

Opening to Growth and Guidance

We’re not even two full weeks into our self isolation during the coronavirus and already it feels like years have passed since life felt ‘normal.’ It seems as though everyday I experience a lifetime’s worth of emotions, each one feeling bigger and more consuming than the last one, but in between these big feelings I’m noticing something that surprises me: calm, peace and presence. I’m astonished when I look inward and feel calm because I know with certainty that if this pandemic had struck just four years earlier, I would’ve been unable to cope. I’d be in the fetal position and of no use to myself or anyone else. Prior to my breakdown, or breaking open, I had no skills to cope with any highly stressful situation. All I could do was let my anxiety consume me and take over my emotions and my thought patterns. Every day during this virus crisis I’m grateful that I developed coping skills and spiritual practices that are sustaining me.

Once I came out of the fog of the breaking open process, I began to see that I was being led down a path, that something was guiding me to the exact things I needed in order to grow and develop as a spiritual being. Once I had awareness of this guiding presence, whether it be a book, a song, a poem, a podcast or a person, it would enter my life and an answer or another path would appear. It was a new and completely mystical experience for me, a person who had long ago given up on religion. I could feel the guiding hand of what I came to call the Universe leading me toward my own evolution as a human being. Through my own curiosity, I learned to be more open to my own intuition rather than the doomsday thoughts that ran through my head. I learned to seek out sources of light and hope that enriched my life. I read books and listened to podcasts about spirituality, Buddhism, women’s issues, and racial justice. I took a class on self compassion, two words I never even knew could be in the same phrase. I simply became an open minded person and sought out every experience that my intuition told me to follow. I started meditating and practicing yoga, which taught me how to center my mind and not let my thoughts control me. Yoga taught me presence and more self compassion.

The more these experiences led me to feel personal growth, the more I sought them out and the more growth I experienced, the less my anxiety ruled me. I tried things that didn’t work for me, but in each attempt to grow, I learned something that enabled me to find the next thing that might work for me. I learned that journaling before I meditate lets me sit with the emotions that arise during the journaling process, which helps me not give credence to negative thoughts or emotions that pass through me. I learned from yoga that I don’t have to be unkind to my body by running up hills and that gentle movement is what my body responds to most. These practices and living with an open mind and intention are what give me the skills I need to cope with today’s uncertainty.

The greatest lesson I’ve learned through this continuous journey of personal growth that I’m on is that I can trust the Universe to provide me with the lessons I need to evolve as a soul. It is this most important lesson that gives me the calm and peace that I often feel during this chaotic time. If I trust that the Universe is giving each and every soul the experiences they need to evolve, then this time is ripe for personal evolution for all of us. I still have awareness of the intense suffering that exists in the world, but I also know that collectively we will all grow from this experience. I know from my own experience during my darkest times that the Universe was always giving me the next thing I needed to evolve, I just needed to be present and open to its existence. I don’t know how this will all end, but I do know that the opportunity for personal growth is abundant.

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