We are here in this physical form of existence to learn and evolve.
How do we learn? Through experience and interaction with everything in our life.
Everything supposedly good or bad are teachers. There are two valid ways to approach the world as our teacher / mirror / lesson. The spiritual and the agnostic perspective. The first way is that something divine put these teachers on our path. Perhaps God, a spirit helper, our deeper self, or a pre-determined life-path put these lessons in our experience so that we learn what we need this lifetime.
Or perhaps we could approach it from a purely agnostic perspective, using the seemingly random experiences in our life as a catalyst for self-evolution, introspection and change in our lives. We can all agree that there is something to learn from everything but we often forget to give the teachers in our life our full attention. When we forget to pay attention, we loose the lesson. This is seen in people who are perpetually in unhealthy relationships or dead-end jobs; or who are continually doing the same things expecting different results (the definition of insanity).
Here are four categories of teachers in our life:
Every person who enters our life — whether the relationship is fleeting or lasts a lifetime; A positive or negative experience — is a valuable teacher. Even the negative interactions teach us what we want and don’t want. We begin to see patterns of things to avoid. We learn about ourselves and how we react.
Every animal that crosses our path is a carrier of symbolism which the inquisitive ponder. What does the bird flying in the sky symbolize to you? Perhaps freedom and a higher perspective. How does this relate to your life right now? The snake slithering across your path … how does groundedness, going with the flow, shedding old skin and sixth sense relate to your questions?
Listening to what our body says is sometimes the most true and obvious source of wisdom. Does our breath and heart quicken after meeting someone? What does that mean? Do you ever feel butterflies in your stomach? What does that mean given the context where it happened?
For women especially, paying attention to the cycles of their body is critical to understanding where they are and what that means.
But perhaps the most stern teacher is dis-ease or other physical afflictions. What emotional state or thought patterns could give rise to the ailment? Do you have too much non-transmuted anger? Are you suppressing emotions? Do you love and accept yourself? Is your career eating you alive? Are the people in your life creating harmony…or disharmony?
If you are feeling itchy, what is under your skin?
If you injured yourself, it is a lesson to be more aware of your surroundings and slow down.
If disease is forcing you to be sedentary, it is time to reflect, introspect, visualize and meditate.
If you have inflammation, it is a sign to have more compassion as well as to eat a diet with more anti-inflammatory vegetables.
Our body is the strongest teacher of all.
Sometimes life circumstances are not what you wanted. I have a friend who got into an accident and was forced to stay immobile at a friend’s house in the middle of nowhere while her car was being fixed for weeks. This unintended circumstance forced her into a state of introspection. It removed her from her normal day-to-day environment and allowed her to pursue new avenues of potential she may not have otherwise done. Adversity always contains a lesson; the question is will you learn the lesson or not? Sometimes circumstances come about to prevent something worse from happening. Like getting in a dangerous or worse situation. Sometimes the only thing that can stop a person from getting into a bad situation is something less bad but still troublesome.
Of course happy and comfortable circumstances also contain lessons, but those are the easy lessons we have no problem accepting into our life. It is the supposed negative circumstances which are more difficult to accept. But once we begin asking the people, animals, circumstances and our bodies “What are you trying to tell me? What is the lesson here? What is the symbolism here? What are you pointing me to?” … the negative situations begin to fade away while being replaced with a more harmonious experience.