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Diamonds: A Mantra for Hard Times


Diamonds: A Mantra for Hard Times

Doesn’t life teach us the most when it brings us to our knees?” A question that has lingered since it was first posed by one of my yoga teachers years ago, feeling just as fitting now as it did back then. Sometimes things just feel really hard. A mantra that often comes to mind in these, am I cut out for this moments is, “Diamonds.”

Diamonds come from the Greek word adámas which means unbreakable. It is the hardest known mineral, hence its name, and each and every diamond is unique. Diamonds are formed under tremendous heat and pressure. These conditions exist miles beneath the Earth’s surface where temperatures exceed triple digits.

Life gets really hot and uncomfortable and overwhelming at times yet this heat and pressure are refining something really beautiful on the inside. My knees buckled recently. I think it might have been on the fourth, or fifth (?) night in a row of eating popcorn for dinner. Yes I am a dietitian, but I’m also a new mom, a full-time worker, and an overtime dreamer that often struggles to find the bandwidth to eat leafy greens and lean protein at every meal and stay connected with people who remind me I’m not alone. In a lonely moment, a former client of mine came to mind. She was a single mom, working overtime at a minimum wage job to support her three children, and wasn’t really interested in talking about getting 5-9 servings of fruits and veggies the first time we met; she needed to check and see if the cab driver she arranged to pick up her son and take him to karate class had actually shown up on time.

I was one of three too. I’ve caught myself in many moments lately thinking, “how did they do it?” wondering how my parents juggled full-time careers, a family business, a full house, their own dreams, and some hard times of their own. In the juggling, the hard often feels like a heavy weight that lands in your palm and folds you in half. I remember watching a juggler once. He dropped his balls and then you know what? He picked them all up and started again.

In the book, The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle shares the story of a beggar who had been sitting on an old box on the side of the road for over thirty years. One day a stranger walked by. “Spare some change?” mumbled the beggar. “I have nothing to give you,” said the stranger before asking, “What’s that you are sitting on?” “Nothing,” replied the beggar. “Just an old box. I have been sitting on it for as long as I can remember.” “Have a look inside,” insisted the stranger. The beggar managed to pry open the lid elated to find the box was filled with treasure. Until we realize our true wealth within–our diamond in the rough–we’re all beggars. Hard times confine. Stuck in our heads we grow separate from the wealth within yet like tarnished silver, we just need some good polishing.

Hard times also refine.  Though our thoughts create plenty for us to mine through and purify, the treasure–however buried–is still in there.

“Perhaps the sea’s definition of the shell is the pearl. Perhaps time’s definition of coal is the diamond.” (Khalil Gibran)

Over time, coal transforms from its natural impure state to its purest form, graphite. As time goes on graphite can convert into diamonds. One of the most difficult yet valuable assets we have in life is this process of purification. The juxtaposition of many back-breaking, knee-buckling things awaits for us to be malleable enough to shift our perspective and see the good in the hard and embrace the process of purification these moments inspire.

The most incredible gems can’t be bought as they are buried beneath the skin of our own beings. When life brings you to your knees remember, Diamonds.


The featured image was created by the Spanish street art collective Boa Mistura when they were in Cape Town to film their documentary Diamond Inside. Check out more images at