The holiday season is still a recent memory, and we all got a good dip into family personalities and patterns. Usually when we are on a spiritual path and we dip into the old family programming- or I should say anytime we bump up against the more gristly bits of life- it often brings up the question, "What is the point of these practices I’m doing if I can’t meet this with some of the more stereotypical images of 'the spiritual person'?" You know- the unruffled person, the perfectly equanimous one, the endlessly compassionate one. Is it possible that the more challenging aspects of life are supposed to affect us a lot? To touch our hearts deeply? To hurt even? Why do we make suffering- our own and others- a problem rather than just a part of our alive nature? What we may not realize when we begin these practices that the root question of the spiritual path is actually, "Are you going to live or not?" Are you willing to really be alive? And instead of some magical finish line that you cross and become the good spiritual person, perhaps aliveness is its own ongoing reward, even in the challenging times.