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Encountering challenges is an evitable part of one’s life journey. How we approach this process affects both the experience of existing within the challenging situation, and our resulting quality of life once we move beyond it. Of course, one can choose to merely cope–tread water, if you will–or one can accept the challenge head-on, and approach it strategically with informed determination.

The first step to an empowered approach to encountering challenges is the acknowledge the obstacle. Obstacles range in intensity–perhaps an athlete pulls a muscle, or a musician’s instrument falls out of tune–or perhaps a major investor withdraws from a project, or a life partnership dissolves. These challenges test our willpower for success. By throwing a wrench in our plans, obstacles present us with an important choice: do we grow in flexibility and capability, or do we wither at the touch of difficulty? For that matter, without obstacles, how can we be forced out of our comfort zone? Challenge, though it may present itself in an ugly way, can itself be a beautiful and valuable experience. We all need to grow–we are all here on Earth to grow and evolve. Accepting the inevitability and necessity of obstacles in life is the first step to overcoming them.

Once we find ourselves in a difficult situation, we must engage our powers of observation. If we allow the obstacle to overtake us, we will become absorbed by the problem, as if trapped in a whirlpool. If we are able to step outside the immediate difficulty and examine it from the outside, we can find our footing faster to deal with whatever has come up. It is like climbing a set of stairs: we must pull our vision slightly back from each step in order to more accurately assess the height and depth required to move our feet in order to ascend further. You can ask yourself: if this problem were happening to a dear friend or loved one, how would I want to support her? How could I help her analyze the situation, and brainstorm solutions? Treat your situation with as much objectivity as you can muster, and you will find yourself able to stay calm and collected.

Finally, we must always commit ourselves to achieving order of the highest degree. When we put ourselves, our habits, our homes in order, we inevitably also help put society in order. Do what you can to maintain order in your physical and spiritual environments. If you, at least in theory, enjoy a regular prayer or meditation practice, there is no better time to recommit yourself to the sacred repetition of this habit. Or perhaps you need to exercise on a daily basis–a quick jog around the block might be all it takes to help maintain a sense of order and control in your daily life that gives you a sturdy baseline to fall back on. When everything else seems unpredictable, at least you can make certain choices to reaffirm your commitment to seeking and contributing to beauty and positivity in the universe.

When we encounter obstacles in life, then observe and assess from a calm mindset, keeping ourselves in order becomes all the easier. When we maintain order and balance, the obstacles we encounter will decrease in number and perceived severity. As we grow from each experience of handling challenges, we can thus strengthen our response protocol. Challenges become gifts life gives us to help us grow.

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Tranquility of heart and contentedness of spirit are the ideal modes of existence. To achieve this blissful state of being, we must practice prayerfulness, patience, and peacefulness.

Prayerfulness is living always with the awareness that you are in the presence of your Lord. Prayer itself can take many forms, but no matter how it is conducted, prayer is, really, touching the blueprint of reality. We are at the core spiritual beings. We are not just our bodies; we are intelligence, love, abundance, and so on. We are reflections of God, vessels of the light of God. Prayer, or commitment of spiritual intent, taps into that core energy, and realizes the presence of God. The classic misinterpretation of prayer as a way to make requests of “God up there” often results in disappointment when one does not receive what one has asked for. But if we switch our awareness of God to focus on the constant presence of the divine within our hearts, then we can get in touch with It, and take a more active role in using this core energy to make requests of the universe. To accompany our efforts in prayer, we can also engage in meditation. If prayer is a way to connect our hearts with the core essence of Reality, then meditation cultivates our awareness of our place within this Reality. It helps us sharpen our awareness of reality, even as it lets our separate self dissolve, and returns our consciousness to the Source. This allows us to remember, on the deepest of levels, who we are and what our plan is on Earth. Meditation releases our minds from the circumstances of our lives, so we can better recognize both the guidance of our guardian angels, and our ability to follow it.

Therefore, when we connect our efforts in prayer and meditation, we can both clarify our goals, and reaffirm our innate ability to realize them.

Patience is having trust that at the end, everything will be fine. Even when our hearts and minds are fully committed to achieving the goals we have set for ourselves, it may take some time before we see the results we desire. It is important to acknowledge that instantaneous results are not an everyday miracle. If we have faith that ultimately we will see the results we seek, then we can spend our time not angsting for results, but looking forward with joyful anticipation. It is also important to have patience with ourselves as we cultivate our mental and spiritual practices. As we practice tapping into this power, we must remember that accessing its full potential requires repeated application of effort. No skill is instantly acquired. For example, a musician practices for hours before a concert, a marathon runner hits the road regularly before a race, and the same is true for anyone trying to achieve excellence in any discipline, be it arts, sports, or professional occupations. If we have the patience to practice well, we will be rewarded with high quality of performance in the future.

Peacefulness means having a sense of inner calm that can be accessed in moments of stillness, silence, and gratitude. It is a type of harmony with God. When our daily lives swirl with activity and buzz from interaction with other beings, we expose ourselves to varying degrees of physical and spiritual noise. Cultivating the ability to step away from this commotion into a special interior space reserved for calm quiet helps maintain mental balance and gives us access to immediate respite. No matter the chaos around us, if we can access peacefulness in our hearts, we can choose to remain in control of our emotions. We can reset our patience, and remember to choose a prayerful approach to overcoming obstacles.

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