Building Resilience

I love the notion that this episode of confinement will cease and that the old life will resume. But it’s unlikely that will occur and we’re probably all aware of that now (even if we are slightly hankering after the comfort of the previous ‘world’ that we’re used to).

We’ve had a definitive line drawn in the sand for us. And although change can be scary (but only because the unknown is just that – unknown – and we like to feel safe in the familiar), without doubt we have an extraordinary opportunity to create powerful changes. Changes that feel good…or at least better.

This definitive line in the sand has occurred really quickly – amazingly quickly (thanks to the fast paced ‘Metal Rat’ energy that we’re seeing this year. More about that here), what life looks like afterwards, what happens next and how we pick up the pieces will unfold over a much longer time frame…

Taking notice

We might, indeed, see a swift cessation of the medical illness, but the real ‘viruses’ will not be gone from our society. The social injustices, the power battles and lack of compassion within politics and policy, not to forget disempowerment and the subsequent fear individuals are experiencing these are part and parcel of ‘viral elements’ that have been pervading our society for a long long time. The medical virus has circumvented the globe as much because these other issues have been underlying and present everywhere in the world. The virus has acted like the agent to bring them to the surface – to shine the spotlight on them and bring to the forefront the destructive patterns and accepted injustices that were there all along. It’s amazing how a threat to our lives can force us to take notice of something.

And just like a devastating personal diagnosis, it can arrest our thinking immediately, and get us to take notice – and then to take drastic action to change the ways that we’re living our lives and how we’re treating ourselves…but only if we value life enough to make the changes.

So although the current shift in our lives has come about super quickly, and the adjustments to ‘a temporary, but different way of being’ were enforced in next-to no time, the aftermath of this is not only going to be long lasting, but will penetrate every aspect of our lives as we critically start to rebuild a society of which we’ll actually be proud to be a member. And for these ongoing trials we are going to need resilience.

Not least because ‘the old ways’ will not be shifted quite as readily as we were when we took to our homes… If we truly want to stand up for something ‘better’, more equal and just then we’re going to have to be the ones standing up for it – being conscientious citizens for right action – and insisting that it unfolds.

This is going to require resilience.

Of course, resilience is physical resilience; strength & inner power and it’s a robust physical system. It’s also about mental resilience which lies in, yes, strength, but more so it resides in mental flexibility and adaptability. It’s about creative problem solving while at the same time remaining convicted and with a one-pointed focus around an end pursuit – an end pursuit which feels more heart-driven.


Being the student

The teachings from yoga suggest that the student requires five attributes for optimal learning, these are interesting because they are:

  1. One-pointedness (which of course means staying on track in order to achieve the desired achievement)
  2. Closing down home (aha…this refers to not hankering after something else – not our current confinement!), although it does mean separation of some description. You can’t be focussed on where you are right here right now, if you’re constantly shifting your focus elsewhere.
  3. Conserving energy (for the important things – ie the studying for the student – and of course we have been given this exact opportunity at the moment, in order for us to prepare for some purposeful action forthwith…)
  4. Cleanliness (this infers discipline, appropriateness and a clearing and cleaning of old, stagnant energy, or ‘prana’)
  5. Sleep (the ultimate restorative, health-inducing, strength-producing practice).

These seem like foundational qualities to harness right now not only in order to be prepared for the next stage; but also so that we might work on – practise and work towards – being more resilient while we’re in this stage. Not least, as ‘this’ stage is actually the only stage that we’ll ever be in…(in the perpetetual ‘now’).


Preparedness and collectedness

Our physical and mental resilience is also linked to our emotional resilience. Preparedness in body and mind is necessary to appropriately ‘deal with’ any unexpected situations which arise and about which we (all) have emotional responses. It’s about being able to come back to a grounded centre point, even if (when?) we momentarily get knocked off balance. Resilience is about how quickly we can resume our collectedness again.

Conversely our emotional resilience also has a role in enhancing our physical system and our immune system and being able to handle the perceived stresses that we meet in the physical world…

So where do we go to augment our resilience? Well, we can get on our mat. Back to yoga. It’s not the only space, but it’s a pretty good place that’s readily available.

And not just for the exercise – yes, that’s the physical strengthening part – but more to the point, there’s the idea of practise and discipline and persistence and longevity and coming back to and honing a space where we rejuvenate. When we take deliberate pauses between rounds of activity, in order to recover and to get stronger – and this is where yoga comes into its own. It’s where we can truly meet ourselves and sit with what we find there. Yoga’s lessons are manifold – it’s not just exercise, it’s not about the perfect posture and it’s not about the best yoga pants.

It’s about being willing to confront something within ourselves that we recognise we need to work on. It’s about us being the student of our own lives and being willing, open and prepared to study ourselves and our role in the world.

This is about honesty; it’s about shedding the layers of what we no longer need, and what’s not serving us, but getting in our way of our greatest potential from being realised as our experienced capacity, not only for us, but for all of us.

And for all of this, we will each need to build on our own resilience…


Photo by Lubo Minar