Building Resilience

Resilience…one of my favorite topics to speak about.

This morning I stepped out into what felt like extreme cold with my mind going “WTF?!”  As I scraped the ice off my windshield a voice inside my head said several other four letter words that were part of the familiar narrative that my mind creates about this time every winter.  Hearty New Englander? Yes. Subtext being ….disgruntled periodically throughout the year.  In our last chat Connecting Mind to Heart we discussed Rick Hanson’s research on the negativity bias.  Yup us New Englanders know that well when it comes to the weather!

Between the bitter cold and pandemic winter living, I’ve been vacillating between deeply reflective and going out of my mind. Relate much?  So it was during a moment of the former about a week ago, that I took to researching some new videos to inspire me on TED.  And I came across this one….

Sister True Dedication, a nun and student of Zen Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh. Her gentle voice began to wash over me as if I had been poured into a hammock by the ocean with no one around but her soft gentle voice in the background.  As she asks about remembering the first steps we took outside today with the quality of breath and air, I immediately sheepishly laugh to myself

Um….ahem……embarrassment comes over me as I admit to myself that those first steps out the door this morning were nothing but negative. Not that that they needed to be.  The New England weather was just doing what it does.  It was negative becuase my mind decided that it was.

Despite my embarrassment, I continued on the path of listening intently to the carefully chosen words she used to describe what it means to be awakened.  Sister True’s hypnotic voice and teachings washed gently over me while relaxing on my couch curled up in a warm blanket.

She goes on to say…

“We need to see the suffering of our truth to get to the awakening.  There is a deep connection between the two.”

Hmmmmm deep thoughts.  And more…

“What is not missing at this point is facts or figures or even technology.  What is missing is insight. We cannot change the world, if we cannot change our consciousness.”

Wow.  Just Wow.

This TED talk was filmed last year.  And I can’t help but reflect on all of the state of affairs of how we are living and think “Yea….THIS.”

Sister True shares three questions that we need to ask ourselves

Who am I?

Where am I?

What do I want?”

These are questions that I have been contemplating over the past two years and have been working encouraging my clients to do so as well.  They are questions that are more subjective in nature and require a fair amount of quiet time and reflection.

The past two years have allowed some people to go deep within.  What has simultaneously occurred, is that we have also increasingly been distracted outwardly; being “connected” in a very disconnected way.  It is said that the best way to know yourself is through the eyes of another.  That personal reflection along with the mirror reflection of another can help to provide a rich way to help us to be more capable of basically “seeing our own Sh#t.”  And yet, there has been limited forms of such mirrors as the world has gone deeper and deeper into isolation.

We seek our “knowledge” from research, facts and figures mostly from sources that our ego aligns with.  This not only disconnects us from information from a variety of other sources but more importantly it is a process of only deriving information from sources outside of ourselves.  You may be saying “no I use my brain to discern what’s facts from what is “fake news.”  To which I would say that not only is that a judgment call, it is also a process that is disconnected from your heart and gut instinct.

The knowledge, the deepest darkest truth, is not found in any periodical or journal, it is found in the excavation of our own cold dark caves within.  The awakening that Sister True is speaking of, comes from a mind that is less racy and a heart and gut that is more in tune.

“Are we saving time or are we losing it.”

This is a great question when contemplating how we run from one thing to the next as if each person, place or thing were a burning building about to perish.

The sympathetic nervous system or fight/flight response in the body is our body’s response to danger.  There is a whole host of physiological response alerts that the body gives out to let us know that it is preparing for battle.  We may feel increased heart beat, sweating, tunnel vision, jittery, GI distress, increased heart palpitations and blood pressure. This mechanism triggers anxiety and fear and has us scanning our environment for more things to be afraid of.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s fair to say that most people have been in this state for a fair amount of the past couple of years.  It is also fair to say that the contemplation and wisdom of questions such as “Who am I? Where am I? What do I want? Are simply not likely to be accessed much during this level of over activation in the nervous system.

The para sympathetic, also known as “rest and digest” is the place where such contemplation can be fostered.  The para sympathetic is responsible for the relaxation response in the body which is activated when you hit the couch and go “ahhhh” and is also the mechanism in the body that helps you fall asleep at night.  It is also responsible for allowing you to have healthy digestion; no only of food but of emotion, information and overall life.

So to answer the question “Are we saving time or losing it” when we are running around, I would say that most likely we are on the losing side.  Much has been written about how the amount of stress that goes into the “rat race” takes years off our lives.  In the past several years I have worked a lot with ambitious and driven Millennials and it has continuously had me in awe at how much of life they are missing through the pursuit of climbing the ladder faster than the person next to them.  Innocent years thrown right out the window in an exchange for the amount of struggles someone 20 years their senior.

We have the capacity for resilience within each of us.  What it calls for is more of a focus on presence and mindfulness.  Connection to our breath, to our body and a more conscious way of approaching the care of ourselves on a day to day basis.  Being intentional with how we eat, whether we move our body or not, the people we choose to spend time with, how we connect to Universal or spiritual energy, how we talk to ourselves helps us to connect with a more natural rhythm of life.  The calming nature that comes from this way of living more naturally allows the aforementioned questions to be answered in a deep and profound way.

Sister True states

“There is a lot that is urgent but in order to take the radical action that our planet is calling for we need to be fully present, grounded, alert, fearless and free. “

“It is our way of being that got us into our current crisis and it is our way of being that can get us out.”

There is much focus on the changes that need to happen globally.  What we don’t seem to connect that to is the changes that we each need to make internally that would lead to such a larger change in the world.  Each time you take a breath and really feel the connection to deep and profound gratitude for that moment, you are changing the regulation of your nervous system and thereby creating not only a shift within but also taking that shift into the world and sharing with all those around you.

We do not evolve just for ourselves but instead for the whole of humanity.  Self care can not just be about making us feel better but instead needs to be more about how this deep internal connection can shift the consciousness of our planet.  Building resilience and it’s transformative power is absolutely available to each person, every moment of every day.  All that is needed is your willingness to step onto the path and ride the journey.

Cheers to awakening to the power of your choice to be right here, right now!


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