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This Too Shall Pass

2nd Mar 18


Article by Ann Halstead

There is a sacred affirmation that has been uttered for thousands of years to rekindle trust and faith at those times when we feel stuck and unable to move forward in life.  It is rumoured to be based on 3,000 year old Jewish folklore and revolves around a fable about King Solomon.  There are quite a few versions of this tale, here is just one of them…

One day, King Solomon summoned Benaiah Ben Yehoyada, his most trusted minister, and said to him:

“Benaiah, there is a certain ring that I want you to bring to me.  I wish to wear it for Sukkot which gives you 6 months to find it”

Benaiah replied:  “If it exists anywhere on earth, your majesty, I will find it and bring it to you”.

Curious about the nature of the ring, Benaiah asked: “What makes this ring so special?”

King Solomon explained that the ring contained magical powers.  If a happy man looks at it, he becomes sad and if an unhappy man looks at it, he becomes happy.  Solomon knew that no such ring existed but he wished to teach his minister an important lesson.

So Benaiah set out, searching far and wide seeking insights from Holy men and Magicians as to the whereabouts of such a ring. Spring passed and so did summer and still he was no nearer in his search. On the eve of Sukkot, he passed a merchant selling wares from a tattered carpet and as a last ditch attempt decided to ask:

“Have you by any chance heard of a magic ring that makes the happy wearer forget his joy and the broken-hearted wearer forget his sorrows?”

The wise, old merchant smiled and taking a plain gold ring from his carpet he engraved it with three words.  As Benaiah read the words, a broad grin spread across his face. 

Upon his return to the city, King Solomon asked in amusement: “Well my friend, did you find the ring?”

To everyone’s astonishment, Benaiah held up the gold band and declared: “I did, your majesty”

King Solomon took the ring and gazed upon the inscription which read: ”Gam zeh ya’avor,” translated:  This too shall pass” and he was reminded of the impermanence of life - the state of sadness that shall pass and the state of happiness that would also pass.

Remembering The Lesson

These teachings whilst they may be thousands of years old they are still very much relevant today.  "This too shall pass" is an important life lesson.  It allows us to understand that everything is in a constant state of transition, nothing stays the same, life continually evolves and us with it.

Whilst these words may bring us comfort in times of despair, we should also remember them during happier times.  That doesn’t mean that we should live in fear of losing the happier times, it’s a reminder to enjoy every single second, to live in the moment and not take anything for granted. It doesn’t automatically mean that if we are happy, sadness must ensue, life can change in all sorts of different ways, maybe it’ll be a different type of happiness.  It’s an opportunity to adapt.  Think of the weather, especially in the good old UK.  We can go from brilliant sunshine to a downpour in a blink of an eye.  Someone once said, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just a poor choice of clothing.  When we’re prepared, we might experience that hiccup but chuck on a rain coat and wellies and continue as before, unless you’re sunbathing, then that won’t quite work ;-) It’s all about perspective and the willingness to look at life from different angles.  Life is a cycle.  It has its ups and it has it downs and sometimes it can feel like we’re experiencing more downs than ups, that we are stuck in a never ending repeating pattern.

Change

How many of us actually resist change? The emotional pain that accompanies change is down to our habit of becoming attached and expecting things to always be the same but things will change and sometimes when we think things are falling apart, maybe, just maybe they are falling into place.

“Sometimes when things are falling apart, they may actually be falling into place” – J Lynn

"Gam Zeh Ya'avor"  or “This too shall pass” are powerful words that we can use when we find ourselves stuck in those negative phases of worrying, regretting, blaming, fearing or suffering pain.

Practice

Here’s a short meditation exercise you can do when you find yourself in such moments.  Read through it first before you begin. You may like to set a timer for when you do begin and have a glass of water to hand for your return.

Find a time when you won’t be hurried or disturbed, settle down and make yourself comfortable.   Begin to watch your breath as it gently enters the body and as it gently leaves, using the breath as a tool to anchor you into the present moment, a tool for cleansing and letting go of all that is not serving you in the moment, a tool which allows you to gently observe the state of your body, mind and spirit and with each outbreath allowing your body to relax deeper.  If your mind is particularly busy, then silently repeat the words ‘breathing in’ on the in breath and ‘breathing out’ on the out breath allowing those words to last the whole of each breath.  Every time your attention gets pulled away by thoughts, sounds or physical sensations, return your awareness to repeating those words until you feel a true sense of relaxation descending. Give yourself permission to relax into your breath as you begin to enter more deeply into stillness.   

Now drift your attention to your heart centre and bring to mind something that is causing you anguish, something from either your past, the present or even a future anxiety that is preventing you from letting go and moving on.  If an emotion becomes too great, take a step back from it, shrinking the thoughts away from you a short distance, check your breathing and deepen it if possible.  Conscious breathing is a simple technique to transform and release feelings of fear, anxiety, and tension as you come into the present moment.

When you’re ready, you are going to awaken the Shakti energy.  Shakti is a divine, cosmic energy that represents the dynamic forces that move through the universe bringing with it change.  So taking a long, slow, deep breath in of pure healing light and on your outbreath, breathe out that anguish.  Breathing in again, feel your heart centre expand, filled with light and breathe out that darkness.  Breathing in light once more and let go of the attachment to whatever it is that does not serve you.

On your next in breath let relief flood in with that light and breathe out worry.  Next breathe in calm with that light and let go of anxiety. Breathe in joy, breathe out sadness, breathe in trust, breathe out fear, breathe in peace, calm whatever your soul needs and release anger, blame and all that no longer serves you. Continuing until you feel that stillness and then allow either phrase: ‘This too shall pass’ or ‘Gam zeh ya’avor’ to silently repeat over and over for the next few minutes.  Embody that phrase into the whole of your being, allow it to sink, to settle in for as long as time allows.

When it’s time to finish your practice, very slowly, very gentle allow your consciousness to return, introducing some movement, maybe a stretch and then when you are finally ready, gently open your eyes and take a sip of water to help reground.

Once thing that is certain in life: “This too shall pass”

Namasate,

Ann x

Ann holds weekly Monday Meditation classes, to find out more, click here

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