99 Pathways of the Heart

Pathway 25 – Al-Azim – Flexible Strength

“When you are guided to this pathway, take the opportunity to feel a flexible strength that can adapt to any situation and yet remain rooted in, and moving towards, the purpose of your life.”

When exploring the pathways of the heart, I always find that the right ones find their way to me at the right time and this one is no different. Given the situation that we have all been faced with, this pathway comes as a renewal of hope and that last pocketful of energy from somewhere in order to keep going.

Human beings are immensely adaptable. Think about yourself at the beginning of this pandemic lockdown period and how you’ve adjusted your time, your workload, your finances and everything else in line with what’s being required of you.

I was reflecting on this and considering if we can be this adaptable when it’s forced upon us, we indeed have the strength to choose how we respond to different situations. We all have that within us and it’s this flexible strength that we are drawing upon to get us through these tough times.

Whatever the situation you are faced with, I think we all have this inner strength that we can call upon and I think the lockdown has really probed my thinking about what this strength is and how we access it. We are getting through it, one day at a time and this tells us that even though it may not feel like things are moving, something is happening every day. If you manage another day, you’re calling on that strength again. The inward road is strength and the outer is the display of that strength. That might be through an action, an opinion, a presence in a place.

I talk about inner and outer manifestations because human beings tend to have a lean towards one or the other. With strength, it’s accessed from within. Outwardly, this strength is displayed through actions, through words. Inner strength isn’t always a tangible though and it’s important to recognise it in our everyday life and not just something that’s required in difficult circumstances.

This energy that I’m talking about, this inner reservoir of strength is often what we take for granted because it’s always there and it keep us going but one of the lessons for me in terms of exploring this pathway was to really think about the ways in which I access this energy and I think that when you reflect on this pathway, one of the avenues to explore is to think about what activities are a way of tapping in to the strength in order to harness it.

Time and space are essential aspects of discovering that we have this inner strength within us. In fact, the longer something goes on, often we perceive that this strength is deteriorating with time. It’s an interesting idea and I think largely down to the way that we perceive life. Time and experience makes us stronger. It’s often the frustration and impatience that masks the strength that we are building through the use of time and space.

One of the biggest lightbulb moments for me with this pathway was just how little we acknowledge what we already do and say as a manifestation of this inner strength. We rack our brains to find examples of when we had this inner strength yet everything is so much closer to home than you think. Like all the other pathways, it’s what we choose to see about ourselves. This pathway for me was a big shove towards opening my eyes to the automatic, day to day, routine, every day things where this strength is displayed.

Acknowledging that some days I get up when I really don’t want to, that’s strength. Writing every day, that’s strength. A commitment to work – that’s strength. Praying 5 times a day – that’s strength. That got me really thinking about the relationship between strength and commitment because the strength is displayed as you fulfil the commitments that you have made. We don’t always see it as strength because it may be everyday ordinary things but I think we have to look at all those things in a different light. The fact that you have done it must show your commitment to something and the inner strength is what drove that action towards that commitment.

Remembering as well that it doesn’t always need to be outwardly displayed as proof of it’s existence. It lives within and often the action or the outward display is just a way of pointing towards what sits within.

I found that with this pathway, a lot of past memories kept coming back to me and it was interesting because the pathway says, “Forget the past, just keep going.” I found that these old memories surfacing was important in helping me to remember how I was built. Memories help us to reflect and whether they are good or bad, the perception of your past is always in your own hands.

Being someone who helps people to reflect, I think that this idea of just keep going can be really helpful when we get stuck. Often when the past comes up, we think along the lines of if only and think about regrets and that can plunge us in to despair. In order to keep moving, we do need to forget the past sometimes.

What I want to highlight is that it can become really easy and convenient to get stuck in the naval gazing and the analysis and this in itself weakens our resolve. It can become a form of self-sabotage. With this pathway, I remember thinking. “I’ve dealt with that, why is that coming up again?” and it was important to look at what lessons were gained rather than to dwell in the memories. We have to keep moving and we have to check our own perspective of the past so that we don’t live there.

What you have lived through should give you strength because it is through that experience that you are able to have the courage to face every single day. What I loved most about this pathway is that following the strength back to it’s root, we find that it is centred in hope. This is one of the most beautiful pathways to experience and at the root of it is the thing that keeps everything alive – hope. Where there is life – there is hope.

When reflecting on the past, it was hope that was the catalyst for change for me in so many situations. It was hope that influenced my thinking about what could be possible for me. It was hope that whispered you can start again and again and again. The strength is in that process and not in the result of it.

“When you find the straight way, it eats up all the crookedness of the past.” Rumi

For me, this flexible strength has always been rooted in hope. It’s this that influences the commitment that influences the action that follows. Sometimes it flows easier and sometimes it requires you to push but it can be called upon. Hope combined with determination to keep going…that’s strength.

Flexible strength lies in the movement through situations and circumstances. It lies in the navigation of them. For me it is so linked to what keeps me going and when I trace that road back, I always get to hope.

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