Saturday, 15 November 2014

The World as a Mirror - the evolution of the soul

Do you find yourself asking, why am I faced with the same old issues, the same patterns or lessons that keep repeating? Maybe it's the same faces that keep popping up or certain types of people who challenge or intrigue you? Are you drifting from companions, loosing cherished connections or feeling less compatible with certain friends or partners or unable to remain in favourable circumstances? Could there be something wholly responsible?

Think of the people who are most important to you at present, the people with whom you choose to spend most of your time; friends, family, colleagues a partner. And even those people who right now are causing distress in your life but from whom you cannot seem to escape or avoid. Now imagine that these people are mirrors. Not the usual sort, not that you can literally see yourself when you look at them - at least not your physical self. But they are mirrors for your soul. And if you don't believe in having a soul then as mirrors for your current state of mental and emotional well-being. 

What this really means is that the people with whom you're currently surrounded, by choice or not, through awareness or lack thereof, are in your life now for an important reason. This reason is essentially that they're reflecting important aspects of your *self*. But why would they need to do such a thing? Think of it like a contract - a soul contract, in that we're all souls connected to a greater, pervasive divinity (be that God, an underlying sentience or some other label you prefer to use). We're each capable of knowing, on a soul level, what others need for their own development, be it personal or spiritual, mental or emotional. It's obvious and accepted that our circumstances in life change as we grow and develop, perhaps less accepted that the people in our lives also change and consequently we drift apart from some and gravitate towards new types of people. Yet if you're particularly stubborn or find change difficult or uncomfortable, you might tend to hold on to the same people in your life - or at least the same sort of people and circumstances that are familiar. But can we truly evolve, as a person, even spiritually, if we resist change? For if we refuse to look in the mirror and accept what it's showing us, whatever that might be, how can we see what needs to be changed?

Of course we all know we prefer to mingle with like-minded people, those who share our beliefs and ideas, our outlook and feelings, who support and bolster our place in the world. Because in this way we create a sense of belonging, of fitting in - the much sought after need for security and community. We might feel obligated to maintain a relationship with some people, such as family members or a partner to whom we've made a commitment even when, deep down, we no longer feel compatible. At other times we encounter people who conflict with us, who antagonize and provoke us, as well as unfamiliar and uncomfortable circumstances. All of these encounters and relationships encourage change within, change that might not be immediately recognised as beneficial. And therefore we sometimes resist getting involved or letting go, even though a little voice is telling us otherwise. So could there be a deeper purpose?

If you're still not buying into souls and divinity, how about your emotional and mental development? Emotionally, we can be hindered by painful or traumatic experiences in life particularly from our formative years. This often makes it difficult relating to those with more emotional depth or expressiveness. If we're emotionally closed, we'll typically seek out the company of those who prefer to rationalise rather than feel. On a mental level, we tend to interact with people of a similar intelligence or depth of knowledge, albeit occasionally pushing the bar a little higher if we feel ready to further our own learning. Thus it can become very frustrating, once we've reached a certain stage of awareness, to interact with those who are closed or narrow-minded by comparison. Not that there's anything wrong with such people, for we all begin life with a mind that needs expanding - some hold back a little longer than others, for various reasons. 

All of this relates back to the idea of the world as a mirror. It's why we prefer to surround ourselves with people similar to us, because we like what we see reflected back. But have you ever met someone you instantly disliked? Or maybe after one conversation you pretty much knew that person and you were not going to get along? This sort of immediate or irrational dislike is usually about what the other person is reflecting, in other words something we're not ready to see, not ready to learn or confront within ourselves. What this means is, often, these people are reflecting emotional or mental states that we find uncomfortably familiar, something painful with which we've already contended or are currently struggling to resolve. Of course there are times when our dislike is understandable and justifiable, such as seeing immoral, cruel or unfair behaviour. But when there is no obvious reason for our dislike, for our rejection, it is then that we can benefit from looking harder in the mirror and asking ourselves, what's really going on inside? What is it about this person's opinion or beliefs or behaviour that is making me feel threatened or irritable? Perhaps this person is too loud or boisterous? Too fussy or critical? Frank and opinionated, extroverted or vain? The list goes on and on. But the question is, what exactly is about their behaviour that irritates me and why? What is this soul-mirror trying to show me or make me realise at this very moment in time? It might be something quite simple or it could be a juicier, deeper slice of wisdom - the only way to know for sure is to peer openly into that mirror and be very frank about what's staring back at you.

Sometimes our mirrors display beliefs and views or emotional behaviour that seem outdated to us. And we might wonder why we're encountering such a thing again. At times the answer is obvious, for instance with children and young people, for most things can only be learned with age and experience. If it's something we've already surpassed or grasped on a deeper level of awareness, it might serve as an uncomfortable reminder of when we acted in such a way or held such beliefs. Yet any adverse reaction by us, in such cases, is merely related to our own fear - the irrational fear that we ourselves might somehow fall back into these ways of thinking or feeling simply by being around such people or behaviour. That it might somehow contaminate or threaten us. And this is indeed irrational because once we gain insight and awareness, into a particular area of life or regarding ourselves, there is nothing to be gained by regressing. Insight and awareness become wisdom, which is something we inherently know to be a fundamental truth and therefore impossible to forget or regress. Perhaps the best response at such times is to practice compassion, for the person(s) still in the process of experiencing and learning the lessons we have already passed.

When we pass these milestone soul lessons, we change a little as a person and thus life - as a mirror, begins to change too in order to reflect our new outlook. We're presented with new opportunities - the proverbial new doors that open. Depending on our personality, we either welcome the chance for change or reject it through fear and doubt. Similarly, people in our lives are also affected by these internal shifts. But it can often feel harder to let go of people, particularly if it is family; parents or siblings, children we have raised to adulthood, a partner to whom we once made solemn vows of commitment or maybe a childhood friend. Sometimes the Universe is so wonderfully orchestrated that we find ourselves changing in sync with other souls, so that we can remain close to certain people for a lifetime - or the best part of one, continuing to provide mutual inspiration and challenge, enough to keep the relationship alive and meaningful. Of course sometimes we grow apart from others, when our paths necessarily diverge. But later, those paths might cross again and we reunite, both a little different but still able to connect. 

Sometimes our souls demand greater change. The desire for new lessons, fresh experiences or deeper insight overwhelms our ego and we have little choice but to eventually pursue, to delve in, undergo a transformation and shed our skin. This is when we encounter a new aspect of our selves, another piece of our soul. And so the world around us, the people and circumstances, subsequently change to allow us to better see this new aspect we have uncovered. For what is on the inside is reflected on the out; the external world of people and things simply reflects what is going on inside of us, on a soul level (or mental or emotional), as a means of helping us to better understand what's occurring. Think of it in terms of objective and subjective - it's much easier to see and understand something objectively, when it's an object detached from your self that you can observe and analyse, experience and contemplate. When our soul changes (or perhaps, more appropriately, evolves) it can be difficult to discern and understand, to grasp and integrate what's occurring if we remain subjective. Therefore we have the world, as a mirror - the people and things around us, to help us see what's going on inside. They change in response to the growth of our soul. This might mean people begin to react to or behave differently around us or that we can no longer identify with something that once had meaning or relevance in our lives, we simply no longer experience it as before.It might mean we begin to experience conflict with certain people whose beliefs or views no longer match ours. And all of a sudden we find ourselves identifying with others, perhaps even understanding something we once opposed. Although this can be disconcerting and upsetting, it is really just a confirmation of the changes that have occurred deep within. When we begin to see and understand the world in this way, it becomes much less frightening, much less of a conundrum. 

More often that not, it can be difficult to confront new aspects of our selves. We might see something unfamiliar or slightly unsettling compared to the former. We might even run away from what we see, try to deny or repress the change that's occurred albeit futilely. Especially if others react negatively to this new side of us. Yet, deep down, our soul knows it is essential for our development. At other times it might feel like a breath of fresh air, a long awaited change of scenery or a much anticipated breakthrough. And we welcome the new faces and places, the new experiences and insights, for our soul knows at last it has uncovered something worthwhile.

Life can be a mirror in other ways too, such as our circumstances, repeating patterns, illnesses or conditions that recur or habits that we cannot seem to break. Some people seem to sail through life, embracing every new change with relative ease whether or not they're aware of the role that their soul is playing. For others, it can feel like a constant struggle, a battle always to be fought or a onslaught of trials and fears to conquer. For most of us it is probably a combination of the two but, whichever path you walk, know that each serves its purpose for your soul's development however unfair it might seem. It's easy to play the comparison game, to envy the smoother path of another, but in truth we cannot know how that person is experiencing their soul's journey or indeed why. Neither can we truly understand why our soul must walk its particular path, whether that be filled with endless strokes of luck and serendipity or challenge and misfortune. What we can do, perhaps, is take solace in the company of those souls currently sharing the journey with us. And to know that all journeys eventually end. The ultimate one ends with the rebirth of our soul, when we leave this life, shedding our skin for the last time and taking with us all that we have learned; stronger, fuller, wiser and more enlightened than before we walked in the shoes of our current self. 

So the next time you clash with someone, feel enraged or perplexed by others' behaviour, feel exasperated by the perceived ignorance or ludicrousness of another, pause for a moment, become aware of your reaction and check-in with your soul. Then look into that other person's soul, behind the face and physical body and ask: what is it that you're trying to show me in this moment? What can I learn about myself from my reaction? What insights can my soul gain from this encounter or experience? This, too, can apply to difficult circumstances, recurring illnesses, bad habits or anything else that seems to plague you. The answers might not be fully apparent there and then, but to begin contemplating in this way can set you on a path to a deeper awareness and greater peace. And peace is ultimately what the soul desires; it is the goal and final resting place. Peace is when the soul finally comes home.