On a bus bench in Bishop, Calif., spiritual teacher and author Adyashanti experienced an unexpectedly powerful shift of consciousness. He had spent years researching spirituality and meditating, but it was at this unlikely place during an otherwise unremarkable time that he actually felt his life change.
Out of nowhere, Adyashanti says a prayer came to him: "God, universe, I am now willing to take anything you want to throw my way in order to awaken. Anything. If I need a life of happiness and bliss and wealth, I'll take it. If I need a miserable, absolutely destitute life of suffering, I'll take it. I take all conditions off."
With this admittedly terrifying surrender, Adyashanti was prepared for whatever was to come. The next five years, he says, brought with them a host of trying, difficult experiences. When speaking with Oprah for an interview on "Super Soul Sunday," Adyashanti shares his key learnings about these difficult moments and how anyone can use their own hardships to find true meaning.
First, Adyashanti acknowledges that most people are indeed familiar with the idea that difficult moments can have a transformative effect on our lives. But, he says, the real question is this how to make sure a transformation happens, so that you're not simply experiencing another episode of suffering.
"The first thing is, you have to be really unconditionally open to it and take responsibility," Adyashanti says. "'How have I gotten myself right here?'"
Recognizing your own role in the midst of suffering is a challenge in itself, as Oprah points out. "You want to blame other people," she says. "You want to say, 'Well, if they hadn't have done that or if they should have done that...'"
"But… if somebody else was fully to blame for my current state, whatever that is, then that's it," Adyashanti explains. "I'm done. I have no hope. If they're the real blame, I can't go back and change anything that's ever happened."
The transformative power of hardship, therefore, lies in your ability to understand your role and see beyond the hopelessness. "It's very liberating," Adyashanti says. "The keys to your happiness are no longer in somebody else's pocket from the past. They're in yours. And that's empowering."