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A common saying that floats around the self-improvement space is, “bloom where you are planted.” Another one champions to, “do the best you can with what you have where you are at.” Both encourage folks to deal with life’s challenges in the present rather than dreaming of some better place or time when everything will happen effortlessly.


These quips are good reminders to be like the lotus flower that blooms unstained amidst the muck and mire. [1] Though as with such flowery sayings, it’s easier said than done. Blooming in the middle of a mess is challenging, especially, when all we want to do is run from the mess.


As within so without


The idea that our life is a reflection of our inner world is a core tenet in self-improvement and holism.[2] Considering life’s mess from this perspective is revealing: a mess in our lives is an expression of something messy within us. Learning to bloom in the middle of a mess is to transform ourselves from the inside-out.


In fact, we can only bloom in the middle of a mess. The mess is the catayst for change. If there were no mess there would be no reason to change or bloom. This is the essence of alchemy and as the dictionary states, “alchemy is a seemingly magical process of transformation, creation, or combination.”[3]


A Story About A Mess


Recently, I found myself in a mess. We were staying in a cabin temporarily because our Airstream needed servicing. We’d stayed there many times before and enjoyed it. However, the last few times felt different. The interactions got messier.


As we shared more about who we are and what we do, the dynamics changed. It is common for many to act unsure as how to categorize us or Shen Life. But, the resistance to our message or lack of resonance with us became very clear. Everything came to a head, and things got messy.


Someone asked for our input. We gave it. The person did not like what we said, and insulted us in return. It was an awkward situation.


We knew that if we spoke up for ourselves we may have to leave. Trying to find a place to stay with three wolf dogs is no easy task. However, we knew if we didn’t speak up we’d get another opportunity to face that mess in the near future, except the stakes would be higher!


After relaxing through the reactionary urges, we chose to speak up for ourselves, which also meant we chose to leave immediately. As a result, we found a much better place to stay within minutes. How confirming! The flower bloomed!


Alchemy In Action


With the alchemical-mindset, every mess is our dojo. Its where we come face to face with our demons. You could say, the mess is the externalization of our inner monsters. Dealing with them and rising above them is the process of exorcising or transmuting them into ideal attributes.


Here are some simple but powerful steps for dealing with your demons so that you can bloom out of the mess.


1. Feel.

This means to pay attention to what you are feeling all of the time. This creates emotional intelligence. The knowledge of why we do what we do is powerful. Then, attention can settle into the heart where we can best express our ideal.


2. Deal.

Whatever arises deal with it. Ask tough questions, like “Why am I feeling this way? Why do I want to take this action? Is this action ideal? Are my thoughts accurate?” You get the idea.


3. Heal.

Relax and let go. This explicates what’s in the heart and brings you into a state of equanimity or flow. It’s here that your actions are most ideal.


To bloom where we are planted, we all must take radical steps to face ourselves by addressing the mess around us. The steps can be small or large. Take them regardless.


What will you do today to bloom?




Erica Rogers