Raising to the sun and bumping Bulgarian hip-hop, my eye still stinging in irritation and my hand still cut from climbing into a thorny cove the prior night, I could really feel the comprehensive pain from the past few days of cycling. Limping down to the kitchen I am greeted by a tatted up Bulgarian hipster, still drunk from the night before, asking me if “I think I’m a tough guy.” I try to ignore his ridiculousness, this could just be the extent of his English, learned from a few Pacino flicks, and decide to move my focus to the day ahead. I find out from the equally ridiculous hostel owner that the final stretch to Istanbul is 300kms, about double what I expected. I crash back in bed in a daze, wondering why everything over these past few days have become so shitty, how can so many elements be flawed at once in my life, after all, I’ve been focusing on positivity and was constantly grateful for the things I have, right!?
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The purpose of setting off on this intrepid cycle was to be in a state of constant bliss, always seeking the truth but never wavering from internal joy. So why the HELL was everything going wrong?! It wasn’t until I broke down and accepted the state of affairs that I landed on the poignant truth of the matter, and I felt the magic of life flutter back into my consciousness. I scratched the underbelly of my brain and started to uncover the focus that I had chosen for myself, leading up to my next major destination, Istanbul. It was a pattern that seemed to perpetual itself through the whole trip. My fear that leaving the war-torn, weather-whipped state of my pedaling activities would reduce my brain to mush and the wonderful growth I’d been experiencing would cease had been the driving force of the wonderful, transformative and murderous distress I was currently feeling. After all, a week with my beautiful mother in Istanbul, with its expected standard of luxury, splendid ease and joyful moments couldn’t possibly match the fierce gusto and instinct-driven thrill of being lost in a rural Ex-Soviet setting on a bike. I started to see where these problems arose from, what it was in my mind that convinced the universe that a nice helping of hell would be the best medicine for the upcoming pampering.
The beautiful thing I realized right there and then, which I consciously grasped by looking back into my past thoughts, is that every single problem I was facing in the moment, as unfair and crappy as they seemed, were actually created by none other than little old me! We are creative beings, so everything that comes into our reality is the product of our thoughts, feelings and intentions for our self. I had created the pain, the anxiety, the subsequent physical injuries, the rowdy hosts, the displeasing notion of biking another 300kms through sweltering heat into a new cultural setting. I realized that this journey wasn’t about constant joy and bliss, it was about just this, finding where my mind creates suffering in order to teach me lessons and help me grow as a person, and also to get better at finding the lessons without creating such suffering. Once realizing this, it begged the question, why is the mind set up to create such problems for ourselves out of nothingness, when it can just cut to the chase and create what we want with ease and joy? When we are facing difficult challenges in one area of life, it is important to really investigate why these problems have come up, because these are often the areas that our self is struggling the most in breaking the thick shell of the ego and letting the light of our soul to shine through.
Whether is be a habit of the conditioned mind, or a true means of tapping deeper into the human spirit, it seems that us humans intentionally cover our gold with a slew of difficult situations and obstacles to overcome before we allow ourselves to reach our actual desires. I’ve possibly created the endless challenge of pushing over mountain tops for myself, so I can one day more confidently create my true desire of changing social rules that seem unfit, moving against the grain, and helping society live a more enjoyable and free existence. To the human mind, there are no easy tasks, so we feel the need to create as much difficulty for ourselves as possible, so the obtainment of our desires appears more realistic. The catch is, we can learn how to move closer to our desires without creating as many problems, once we learn how our mind is spinning them up.
Thought and the conscious universe is set up so we can set any rules we want, we don’t have to go through these problems, but the minds we were given are limited in its ability to think beyond this concept, to a true believe that everything we desire can come to us with ease, that the universe is fair and that we create absolutely everything we perceive. It’s hard to admit, but most of the issues we face on a day-to-day basis were created by our own mind. Usually subconsciously, mostly insightful to our psyche and always representative of the focus of our inner mental state. When we realize this, we can start looking at our problems as a source for personal growth and whenever they come up, we get a peek into what negative feelings we’ve been putting out into the universe without ever knowing. These problems are often created as a means of strengthening our resolve, and depending on how we handle them, can lead us further down our path of purpose and enlightenment. Our first response though is to look at them as these bullshit instances that we have no control over, which have happened completely randomly. With this mindset, people end up facing the same bleak situations over and over instead of looking at problems in life as a signal that something is wrong or that they are putting out the wrong frequencies consistently. This involves looking past the current reality of things, which is often scary for people to do, and regarded as reckless and foolish. When we learn that it’s our own thought process that is creating the problems, we try to steer our minds away from these problems and focus on the positives. The issue with this is that we our designed to grow this way, while the conscious power of thought can choose to grow in any way conceived, the human brain seems to be designed out of growth through pressure, using heat to bend the steel. So, until we can transcend our problems and leave the reality of our situation outside of our brain, we must learn to use our problems as leverage to get over the hill.
In Buddhist mythology, the symbol of The Plough represents this powerful tool that we can use in personal development. The Plough is our internal attitude that allows us to turn the harsh soil of our ego into a fertile field that can grow the fruits of our desires and souls intentions. While our brain is still conditioned to expect difficulty, we have the power to use those difficulties to aid in creation.
Instead of trying to get rid of your problems in life, begin to recognize the creative nature they have in store for you and use them as a tool for growth. While is may be difficult to break our association to facing difficulty before experiencing growth, with a fresh perspective you can be sure to face your problems with an attitude that will give insights into what you’re intending to create and make the difficult times more enjoyable. All you need to do is recognize that whenever you have a problem in life, you have created it for some means of bettering yourself, be it through breaking egoistic habits or focusing more openly on the light at the other end of the tunnel.
There is a natural part of me that wants perpetual prosperity, joy and ease in my life and then there is another side that craves challenge, strife and the fear that comes along with uncertainty. On this trip, I’ve found that when I focus on prosperity, everything seems to fall into place perfectly, problems may arise but given my mindset nothing seems to be stifling enough to break my mood. Other periods of the trip have been wrought with difficultly and stress and it is in these times that I feel like I’m growing as a person. I believe that we have the power to experience both and the ultimate power that we need to realize is, that no matter what focus we take, there is always something beautiful in store for us that is truly a blessing. So next time you’re faced with a problem, try to look back into your mind and find the point where your daring nature may have created this scenario, and realize that your work at that time is to get past the notion that these are random, unfair events and to the space where you see the true gold that you’ve created for yourself hiding under the tough surface.