Some people's lives tend to unfold with relative ease. Of course we all have the normal human setbacks: illness, loss, death and heartbreak. However, some people have lives where it seems like mental, physical and or emotional turmoil is the norm rather than the exception.
In many spiritual traditions that acknowledge the reality of reincarnation it is believed that some particular lifetimes are meant to be difficult in order for the soul to accelerate its learning. These are called "working lifetimes". In working lifetimes, which are believed to be one in every ten lifetimes, the soul may experience heightened difficulties and challenges (as well as heightened spiritual understanding) in order to speed up the soul's evolution.
Working lifetimes however are not spiritually significant simply because a lot of heavy stuff happens. A person must also actively seek spiritual guidance or knowledge as a way to manage those difficulties. Many people have hard lives, yet never dig deeper for spiritual truths. They may have a religious affiliation or a slight spiritual or metaphysical leaning but they aren't inclined to search deeply for the answers to life's big questions. As such those hard lifetimes don't necessarily become leveraged for wisdom (perhaps until old age). Conversely, those in working lifetimes cannot help but search deeper for spiritual truths. They are often drawn to spiritual pursuits as a way to manage emotional, physical or mental difficulties, and tend to do so early in life.
Those not in working lifetimes are resting. This is necessary for the soul who spent a lifetime with a great amount of difficulty. In resting lifetimes there are still problems and struggles to overcome but they are less intensified, more dispersed and life doesn't tend to feel like it's on "fast forward". Resting lifetimes are the soul's reward for enduring the accelerated sequence of the working life.
Living a working lifetime can feel a bit like what you experience (emotionally, physically or mentally) in a week or a month other people do throughout their whole lifespan. This is because the karma of someone in a working lifetime has been "sped up". This means that karmic contracts are being balanced and important soul decisions are made in this one life instead of over many so as to help the soul to move toward its next level of development.
In working lifetimes people may meet soul mates, important spiritual guides and teachers, or have peak spiritual experiences that open them to universal Truths and realities outside the normal physical awareness. These serve as the "consolation prizes" for the heightened intensity that typifies a working lifetime.
For people in working lifetimes struggle can seem frequent but the difficulties can take various forms depending on the type of karma being worked through. One person may have intense physical karma and may experience illnesses, injuries or other difficulties or challenges related to the body, while another may have emotional karma and experience intense emotional storms or frequent situations that are emotionally challenging, or even a mood disorder or other emotional disorder.
Alternately someone may have mental karma where they struggle with thoughts, anxieties and obsessions or compulsions. Most people experience all three where the karma is dispersed throughout the three types; for example 20% physical, 60% emotional, and 20% mental. The variations are as varied as souls as it depends on what the soul aspect needs to process in order to advance to its next set of lessons or state of consciousness.
If you identify with the description of a working lifetime don't despair, it's not all struggle and strife. Interspersed with the difficulties those in a working lifetime may experience extreme states of bliss, or extraordinary circumstances that redeem the suffering. You may build meaningful connections with a spiritual practice or soul mate or soul family member that serve as buoys in the storm.
For example, one may struggle for many years with extreme financial difficulties and then experience a great windfall only to experience a new deluge of emotional or mental challenges, while conversely having intensely satisfying spiritual insights or visions that carry them through the turbulence. Many can experience similar external events but one in a working lifetime will seek to understand the experience through spirituality relative to their soul's plane of consciousness, rather than chalking it up to simply being a "hard life". So while the lifetime may be hard wisdom is garnered more quickly and at a deeper level than a resting lifetime.
The trick to weathering the storm of the working lifetime is to constantly remember your connection to something larger than yourself. Also, remembering that the soul choose these tribulations in order to accelerated it's growth, so while your personality may hate it, the soul is jumping for joy at being able to accumulate the valuable experience in a condensed period of time. Earth is a sort of finishing school for the soul's journey and we incarnate in order to experience the full range of human emotions/experiences.
Here's a few quick questions to help you determine if you might be in a working lifetime. If you can answer yes to 6 out of 10 questions you may be in a working lifetime.
Working Lifetime Inventory
- I feel like I have had a lot of struggle or difficulties to overcome in my life (emotionally, physically or mentally).
- I have always searched for spiritual or philosophical answers to help me deal with the struggle in my life.
- I have developed intense relationships with others that seem charged with spiritual, emotional or metaphysical significance.
- I'm aware on some level that there's a reason for everything I've been through.
- I have had sometimes miraculous resolutions to longstanding issues happen at various points in my life.
- I have felt envious or jealous of those whose lives seem easy, despite the blessings I've had in my life.
- I believe I have spiritual gifts or wisdom that has developed out of the circumstances of my life.
- I have often wanted or searched for a spiritual guide, mentor or teacher.
- I have frequent feelings of déjà vu and synchronicity
- At certain times life has seemed like "too much" but something keeps pushing me through difficult times because I know it's important for my growth.