Per Aspera Ad Astra: How to Grow Through Adversity


Eckhart Tolle is a world-renown spiritual teacher who has helped millions of people journey inward and delve into their own consciousness and identity. While interviewing another magnanimous figure, Oprah Winfrey, during her Oprah Super Soul Conversations Podcast, Eckhart Tolle discusses how adversity plays a critical role in the evolution of our consciousness. During the podcast, Oprah asks Tolle, “so what is your interpretation of these troubled times we are living in?” to which he replies, “there is a Latin saying going back 2,000 years, Per Aspera ad Astra, which translated means, through adversity to the stars. So whenever an obstacle rises that seems to block my way forward, the path forward, in reality, the obstacle has an essential function. And that is, it forces me, or it forces humanity, to generate more – either more strength, more energy, or more consciousness.”


His interpretation of this ancient quote really piqued my interest. This notion of adversity being required to grow is a common theme in history.

As the Gautama Buddha once said, “as a lotus flower is born in water, grows in water and rises out of the water to stand above it unsoiled, so I, born in the world, raised in the world having overcome the world, live unsoiled by the world.” The idea that humans, animals, plants, and single-celled organisms, all similarly experience hardship to achieve an end goal. The end goal is different for everyone, but the struggle is the same.


I began ruminating on the many different adversities human beings have faced since it’s the dawn of civilization: world wars, atomic bombs, plagues, famine, natural disasters, and much more. Of course, the latest adversity on my mind is Covid-19. I began to wonder how the Covid-19 pandemic has shaped me physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It is easier for me to see the physical effects of adversity on my body, but not necessarily the emotional and spiritual. Eckart explains that when “life becomes difficult for the body there is a demand for more strength…when life becomes difficult for human beings there is a demand for more consciousness.” But what does this mean for me personally? How have I grown my own consciousness?


When I look back at my own life, especially the last three years during the Covid-19 pandemic, I see that I have had tremendous personal growth. Perhaps the unprecedented adversity the Covid-19 pandemic placed on me as a healthcare provider, a teacher, and a new parent helped me grow because never in my life had I been more challenged physically, emotionally, and spiritually. How has my consciousness expanded you ask? Well, parenting a toddler during the pandemic has forced me to think beyond myself in ways I would have never previously imagined.


Expanding my consciousness has allowed me to be more aware of what I do, what I experience, my reactions, and how I process my feelings. I have ultimately learned that it is OKAY to have the feelings that I have and to not be afraid of them. I realized that fighting with my feelings, my insecurities, and my self-doubts only gave them power. I have learned to recognize feelings, sit with them, and learn from them. The adversities presented by the Covid-19 pandemic challenged me, as it has us all, but I have learned humility in realizing how human I truly am.


I guess the old Latin proverb proved true (at least in my personal case), and growth through adversity has certainly occurred. I feel that now my sense of self has changed. There is something beautiful about resilience. The idea that for thousands of years humans have worked through adversity to achieve a higher sense of self gives me comfort. We all struggle through adversity to reach the stars. Hopefully, and collectively as human beings, through this last major adversity, we can all reach higher and achieve more.


If you feel in need of some inspiration or want to learn more about how you can expand your consciousness, check out Oprah’s full podcast series with Eckart. If you are looking for a quicker read, check out this amazing article by Brianna Wiest entitled, 10 Small Things That Will Expand Your Consciousness In Big Ways.



Per Aspera Ad Astra,

Christina Brown MSN, RN

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