The Turbulence of Spiritual Growth
By Robin D. Duncan



Do you find yourself asking why life tends to get more challenging as you move towards a more awakened consciousness?  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could just make the decision to live from a loving consciousness... and then poof, our lives would miraculously change into a constant state of bliss?  

It doesn’t quite work that way...does it? But why? After all, when we make good choices, shouldn’t there be an instantaneous reward?  Perhaps it’s just an issue of timing, or worse yet, could there be an evil force working against us? It sure feels like it sometimes. Maybe we can learn something from my “fish” story. In my should be called  “The fish that didn’t get away.”  

We were enjoying a weekend at our cabin in the local mountains. We have a delightful place, built in the 50’s that sits on a small lake. The water in the lake is mountain-fed, so each year as the summer ends, the lake drops down to a very low level. On one sunny weekend in September, my foster daughter came running in and said, “The lake is drying up!  We have to save the fish. They are all dying.”  

My husband and I went out to survey the situation, and sure enough, the fate of the fish didn’t look good. There were many of them, visibly still alive in the lake, but as the water temperature was rising and the water level was dropping, they were beginning to show signs of distress. We looked at each other with that blank stare and had no idea what to do. Within minutes, after some quick prayers, I was on my way to the hardware store to buy a large bucket, rubber boots and a fishing net. We got the idea that we could collect the fish, take them to a nearby larger lake and set them free.

The three of us began catching fish, one by one, and loading them into the water bucket. We giggled and splashed as they slipped between our fingers. Finally, we couldn’t find anymore in the muddy water. We didn’t want to leave any behind for certain death, so again, we said a prayer. As soon as we did, several more fish started jumping up out of the water. They seemed to be saying, “I’m over here. Don’t forget me!” We laughed and felt as though our prayers had definitely been heard.

Once the final fish was loaded into the bucket, we carefully lifted it onto the truck and made our way to the larger lake. As we rode in the truck, we felt excited that our efforts would soon pay off. We arrived at the lake and then carried the fish bucket towards the water. With a quick turning of the bucket, the fish were released into their new paradise. With great surprise, we watched them just sit there. They were not swimming out into their freedom. We swirled the water around them, and still...they just sat there. We knew they had enough energy to swim, but they weren’t swimming. What was wrong?  Why weren’t they moving? We realized that in their minds, they were still in their death pond. They had already given up. I swirled the water more around them...and still they wouldn’t move. They had already chosen hopelessness and weren’t about to change their minds.

At that point, a Park Ranger came up and scolded all of us for putting fish into his lake. He demanded that we gather the fish immediately and take them someplace else. I didn’t understand his logic, since they put the same types of fish in our lake as they put in this one, however, we did as he instructed. I was beginning to think that this whole idea had taken a bad turn. We were all saddened and began our chore of gathering up the fish. It wasn’t very hard, because most of them were still sitting there “motionless” at the shoreline.

Turning to prayer, I asked why this was happening. The message I received was the fish needed to be moved to more swiftly-moving water. My husband suggested a nearby river. We once again loaded the fish back into our truck bed and headed towards the river. We were all committed to seeing this through. It was as if we were the fish in the bucket, and this was no time to give up.

The river was quite inviting with fast moving water. We all helped to turn the bucket into the river, allowing the fish to once again, move towards freedom. We cheered them on. This time, all of the fish sat for a moment in the turbulent water, and then one by one, they seemed to wake up, and then with bursting energy...they headed joyfully downstream.

It suddenly all made sense. When the fish were in the little lake, they had decided there was no hope. Even with the greatest of intentions on our part, it took more and more turbulent experiences to “wake” them up. They were so committed to their limited consciousness, that it took “shaking them out of it” so to speak before they would begin to move towards joy and freedom.

I felt grateful that I had been shown why, in my own life, it took turbulent situations to break me out of my slumber. Freedom and joy are available to each one of us if we are willing to see our current situation differently. How many times have each one of us been through the depths of despair, only to move on to our next level of consciousness, our next relationship, job, etc. It is always the tension in the bow that catapults the arrow precisely to its target.

Perhaps we can learn from this story and be willing to see things differently in our lives right now. Perhaps we could avoid the “abrupt awakening.”  Maybe we can choose freedom and joy right now, and simply ask how to experience it. Just maybe there is a way of looking at things we have clearly forgotten. Whether you choose to take the turbulent route or the peaceful one, one thing is for will get there!

Robin D. Duncan is a Certified Instructor for The National Guild of Hypnotists and the Executive Director of The Miracle Center of California, a School for Certification in Hypnotherapy, and a Holistic Healing Center, offering private sessions and classes to the public, with a payment structure to fit any budget. She also offers a study group for A Course in Miracles on Wednesday even-ings. Tel: (888) 773-9174. Also see

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