Challenge By Jan Engels-Smith

Challenge By Jan Engels-Smith


“Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional.”    Roger Crawford

On the road to enlightenment, the way is not always smooth and it certainly is not effortless. How we view our challenges can determine whether or not we receive the full benefits that they offer.  The universe is non-judgmental and does not define for us the events of our lives as good or bad; that decision is ours alone and, if we refuse the responsibility of our choice and assign the conditions to bad luck or the inevitability of failure, we have lost an opportunity for deeper understanding and a chance to enhance our appreciation for life.  Hiking a trail in the wilderness, we overcome obstacles and we receive the dual benefit of having met the challenge and succeeded and of having the opportunity to appreciate the beauty of a remote area.  If our only focus was on the pain encountered in our hike and the irritation at the obstacles along the way, it is likely that the beauty of our destination would go unappreciated and we would be blind to the wonders that surround us. On the other hand, if we reveled in the accomplishments we enjoyed in proving our mettle on the trail and found the trek to be part of the great pleasure of the outing, we can be assured that the scene at our final destination would be more beautiful than we had ever imagined and our joy would be unbounded. Such is the journey to enlightenment. Each challenge reveals to us who we really are and illuminates our existence so that we might know ourselves more fully and be more capable of growth and evolution.

Intention determines result. We know that we choose our intentions.  The word itself implies choice.  We need to recognize the spirits’ neutrality in the events that we encounter each day. The universe is not opting for good or bad incidents to toss at our feet; it simply provides the life force that offers us the opportunity of choice of response. We select the attitude, the emotional state, and the degree of self-assurance that we desire.  How we choose to address the conditions that we face will determine the impact of the challenges.  Realize that the goal may not be to lessen the impact but to make sure that we understand that the negative qualities that we first perceive can be altered into a positive force for change, because the difficult encounters might be the most beneficial to our spiritual development. I am not suggesting that a serious illness or an economic distress is a good thing, but that, if the event has occurred, we may choose to blame it on our lack of worthiness or bad luck or helplessness or we may choose to focus on positive possibilities and find hope in a future that we can influence by our attitude and intentions. The laws of attraction are not grounded in past failure but in current attitude. Stressing the negatives in our experiences defines our intention and we draw in the misery and sadness we wish to release. Emphasizing the possibilities for healing and appreciation creates a positive force that quickly compounds itself into hope, renewal, and revitalization. Joy is not the immediate product of a difficult situation, but the intentions we set can offer a pathway to ultimate joy.

We live and function daily in the middle world and the middle world appears confusing and at times chaotic.  The distraction of this hectic and unruly place very easily diverts us from our personal mission for spiritual growth and our attention focuses on the immediate and our perception of ourselves as a minor entity in an unimaginably large universe. Our practices of meditative contemplation of ourselves as at one with the universe are intended to mitigate this sense of aloneness and smallness.  Setting our intentions to believe in our power to draw strength from the cosmos allows us to function purposefully in the middle world and to act fearlessly in the face of challenges.  The fragmentary appearance of negative forces in our hectic lives is an illusion that gains strength only if we choose to succumb to its negative energy. By drawing on our spiritual guides for support and directing our energies into positive forces for change, we transcend this misapprehension of helplessness and find an inner strength we may not have known we possessed. This is the design of ascension—opening the chakras to positive energy and gaining the power of the universe as our own, setting our intentions to become whole and one with the universe, and evolving to a higher dimension.

A good measure of one’s progress along the evolutionary road of ascension is to consider how you view the inevitable difficult events that you encounter in your daily life.  Sadness, distress, and fear are common forms of reaction and they may even serve a positive purpose in the short term as we come to grips with loss and pain and find solace in our emotional interaction with others. Negative forces are those which you allow to dominate your existence and which prevent you from moving progressively toward finding your true self. I recently experienced much sadness at the loss of my mother and I found it painful to accept the fact that she was gone from this life.  However, I found great comfort from the outpouring of support I received from family and friends. She had moved a few years ago from Florida to Oregon and was close at hand for several years.  It was joyful to spend so much time with her on a frequent basis during her last years and to see her interacting with her grandchildren and friends. The positive force of that joy does not eliminate the sense of loss but the dominant energy is one of thankfulness for the time together and the pleasure of fond memories.  This is the nature of positive intentions. The spirits offer solace as you choose to seek it and one need not be mired in negative thoughts if you choose otherwise.

In our lives, we do not expect to eliminate all problems or avoid all difficult situations or never suffer loss. The spirits imbue life with a myriad assortment of occurrences but they do not assign emotions to the events; they leave that task to us.  Occurrences have value as we determine their importance to us and they elicit emotional responses that we choose in our reaction to them.  Humankind has allowed their consciousness to develop a false sense of external cause and effect for what we have created in our own mind.  Not only do we often lose influence in how events affect us but we also assume an unnecessary role of victim and its resultant condition of helplessness. In my journeys, I have found that the spirits are puzzled by this behavior and they have told me again and again that we possess the ability to determine our fate and the power to alter the trajectory of our lives.

The universe launches us at birth as perfect beings on the path to fulfillment; but the intrusion of deceptive values drawn from cultures that have distorted our connection to the cosmos causes us to diverge from this path and begin to create different and erroneous definitions of ourselves as separate from and in conflict with our world. Our efforts to restore ourselves to the true meaning of our existence are the basis for our work in ascension.

  • Understanding the challenges of our lives as opportunities for growth and evolution allows us to meet these challenges and grow stronger.
  • Meditating deeply in discovery of our true selves leads to a recognition of our oneness with the universe.
  • Creating positive vibrations within our chakras draws positive energies into our beings.
  • Finding again our perfect selves restores our power and moves us away from any sense of hopelessness and helplessness.
  • Employing the assistance of our spiritual guides and the power of the universe we pass beyond this limiting three-dimensional world into the fourth dimension and beyond.

There is a pathway to restoring our true selves and finding enlightenment, but the journey requires setting one’s intentions to meet all the challenges we face with grace, love, and confidence. The task may be difficult but there are spiritual allies who will help you achieve unity with the power of the cosmos and to make it your own.

The Eastern mystic Sri Sathya Sal Baba once wrote:

Life is Love, enjoy it;

Life is Challenge, meet it;

Life is a Song; sing it;

Life is a Dream; realize it;

Life is a Game; play it;

Life is a Goal; achieve it.

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The First Step Toward Enlightenment: Monitoring of Self

The First Step Toward Enlightenment: Monitoring of Self by Jan Engels-Smith

monitoring of self


If you understand the laws of energy, you can understand the process of creation and then be directive in what you create in your life. If you are directive, you are utilizing your gift of choice, your sacred free will, to choose the personal thoughts and beliefs, which will manifest in your life. When you realize the power of your thoughts and start to monitor them, you have taken the first step toward creating change for yourself and enlightenment.People struggle when they seek to be this accountable because it requires deliberate and constant attention. However, this struggle is important and the first step toward enlightenment.  Although there are tools that you can use to heighten awareness, such as books, affirmations, mantras, chanting, support groups, and churches, you must consciously monitor what you are thinking or you can negate much of your effort and your healing. People who are awake pay attention to their thoughts. Their attention is centered. They consciously evaluate where they direct their energy and whether their thoughts are serving their highest good. This is a huge undertaking, but the results can be phenomenal.

Let me give you an elementary example:

Bring your attention to your breathing right now. Where is it centered in your body? Is it in your lungs or down in your belly? It is heavy or light? Are you breathing out of your mouth or nose? As you scan your body with your thoughts, you move energy and become aware of an automatic process. You can, by thought and intention, redirect your breathing and your body’s response.

Your body’s energy changes as your thoughts change.

You are, at this very moment, evaluating my example and forming an opinion about it. Your opinion is also energy. Choosing to gain from an exercise will result in a positive outcome or feeling; choosing to think negatively about an exercise will have an adverse effect. You respond to your opinion on an energetic level. Remember everything is energy, including an opinion, which takes form in your thoughts. It springs out of your underlying belief system. Part of this quest is to discover where your opinions come from. In order to do that, you need to look at your basic belief system.

I have found that most people have a belief system that is based on their worth or lack of. Worthiness, being accepted, and loved are major core belief structures that can fuel our every thought and action, including something as basic as an opinion about an exercise in a book.

As you walk the spiritual path and become more conscious, you will scrutinize your feelings, behaviors, and belief system. You will continually ask yourself, “Where is that thought coming from, what made me act that particular way, and why do I feel the way that I do about that certain topic or individual?”

You will learn to detach from your emotions and view yourself as an observer.

The laws help you understand how energy and creation work. You cannot not be creating. Every thought that you have is part of the creation process. Changing your life to become what you ultimately desire starts with Self. Heal yourself first. Spirit has taught me that the only way you can truly heal yourself or reach your fullest potential is to take a long good look at yourself and keep looking. Detach and observe yourself.

Human thought and behavior is activated either by love or fear. Which of these two emotions governs you? If you are not living a life of joy, of peace, of self-confidence, you can be assured that your underlying belief system is based in fear.

All behavior, all invention, all change, and all creation starts with an intention which energy follows. Intention is moving energy with purpose. Intention connected to a deliberate action can have incredible force. To insure that this force operates for the good of oneself and others, you must be sure that you are acting out of love and not from fear.

Being conscious is applying this law with intention. Creation is always happening. It either happens to you or you can make it happen for you. If you are consistently wondering why a certain thing is happening to you, think again. You have free choice. Moment by moment you apply energy to your thoughts. Where is that energy going, and what are you creating for yourself? Your attitude and life reflect your choices. You are in control. This is the difference between being unconscious of the process of creation or being conscious and directive. You cannot, not be creating.


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