Letting Go To Present Awareness (Includes Guided Meditation)
Resilience: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties and toughness.
We are conditioned to be hard on ourselves, even in the most difficult times: "tough times never last but tough people do" or "when life gets tough put on your boxing gloves". This type of approach to life's challenges encourages us to push our suffering down and just get on with it, even when we are struggling the most. It can lead to a suppression of our truest feelings and does not provide space to acknowledge and meet our true needs.
Resilient people are often considered as those who can bounce back from tragedy or a setback and achieve success. Those who possess phenomenal inner strength, are tough and stoic. However in times of stress, sadness, grief, pressure and overwhelm it's compassion not toughness that leads to resilience.
Our capacity to recover from life's challenges depends not on how tough we are, but on our ability to include our suffering - just like we would for someone we love - with empathy and care.
When we are in a stressful situation one approach can be to give ourselves a long lecture about all the things we are doing wrong. Say for example you're under pressure at work due to conflict, it's common to tell yourself how you're failing in life, how you need to be stronger, more assertive, more organised. The message we are sending to our self? You are not good enough as you are. In times of difficulty we often internalise the stress and blame ourselves for the situation.
Yet true resilience comes from being able to stay present with what is happening non judgmentally. To acknowledge the stress, anxiety, fear and worry exists, but without all of the self-blame, self-criticism and the inner voice telling us how we're falling short.
It's common to mistake self-compassion with being lazy, dropping our standard of excellence or not really facing the things that we need to. Yet this is what enables us to learn something new, to gain wisdom following a mistake, to face the things that scare us, to ask for help when we need it, to speak about how we're really feeling and to stand up for ourselves when it's required.
Inner resilience grows from attending to our struggles more than it ever could from berating our self for what is difficult for us. Have you ever achieved anything great after telling yourself how terrible you are?
When I look back at the times I made the greatest growth and progress following adversity, it was when I gave tenderness to the pain I was experiencing, or I received it from those I'm closest to.
A quote that has stuck in my mind recently as I transition through a growth phase is: "it's not survival of the fittest, it's survival of the nurtured."
To keep going in challenging times requires care from ourselves and from others. The following poem was read by our guest presenter, Christine Hiltner at our recent Summer Day Retreat.
If You Would Grow – Shine The Light Of Loving Self-Care On Yourself
If you would grow to your best self
Be patient, not demanding
Accepting, not condemning
Nurturing, not withholding
Self-marveling, not belittling
Gently guiding, not pushing and punishing
For you are more sensitive than you know
Mankind is as tough as war yet delicate as flowers
We can endure agonies but we open fully only to warmth and light
And our need to grow is as fragile as a fragrance Dispersed by storms of will
To return only when those storms are still
So, accept, respect, attend your sensitivity
A flower cannot be opened with a hammer.
– Daniel F. Mead
Practicing mindfulness and self compassion changes the nervous system, our chemistry and brain circuity from an anxious, vigilant mode to a calmer more connected state.
This guided meditation is called Letting Go To Present Awareness.
Our Weekend Retreat on April 8th and 9th is fast approaching. If you would like a weekend of yoga, Pilates, meditation, mindfulness, chanting breath-work, hiking, time in nature plus much more then click below: