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If we learn anything over the course of our lives it’s that we are adaptable beings, capable of changing at a moment's notice. As we navigate the many transitions that life has to offer us, our ability to be flexible and move with, as opposed to against, is challenged. Though it may be uncomfortable at times, we all have the capacity for these types of shifts.
Personally, I don’t always love the moments of uncertainty. They bring discomfort and challenge to the forefront and I tend to try to manipulate whatever the discomfort is into something more palatable. Where I get stuck, as many people do, is in the story I’ve created based on my past experiences.
Throughout our lives, we each create patterns, habits, and general ways of being that are shaped by all that we’ve endured in our past. These patterns are called Samskaras, which are like imprints in the mind. One way to think about Samskaras is to picture a field of grass, imagine that it has been walked on in one path over and over for a period of time; this action creates a memory that the land absorbs and the grass eventually stops growing.
Similarly in our minds, if we operate in the same way day in and day out, we start to create those same grooves within ourselves. This is not to say that all the patterns we create are bad or need to be removed. We learn a lot based on our past experiences and these lessons serve us well. However, it’s when we get stuck in these ruts that we limit ourselves. We forget that we are capable, adaptable, and expansive beings.
The resistance to change generally comes from a fear of the unknown. We don’t want to face big shifts because we assume it will lead to suffering. Stuck in our preconstructed ideas and stories that we believe will bring us comfort, we lose our ability to transform. In these moments we forget our capability, more so, we forget our resilience.
Resilience is the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity. It’s a quality that we all embody and it invites in new perspectives. Often we move through discomfort with the intention to go back to the way things were when they were comfortable. These are the Samskaras moving into our space and recreating the same stories we’ve always abided by. Even if it’s subconscious, we are all craving comfort and ease at any given moment. Resilience is not about going back to old patterns and habits to find that comfort, instead, it’s about remaining centered as we step into the unknown and open the door for transformation. How can we release the patterns that no longer serve us in order to continue to grow with clarity and grace?
Remaining adaptable and embracing the impermanence of all things requires a deep connection to ourselves. The inner connection we create sets the foundation for our resilience to take form. When I notice myself clinging to my stories or expectations and trying to control outcomes I know it’s time for a realignment. Creating this internal connection is going to look different for everyone as we are all unique beings. There is no one way to form and maintain internal alignment, however, there are a few great places to start and even to return to as we navigate this life.
Meditation to Build Resilience
If I had to name one thing that has consistently offered me space to realign and reconnect to myself, I’d say it’s my meditation practice. Through my own journey, I’ve found that intentional moments in meditation have always given me the environment I need to reground. The benefits of meditation are profound and more abundant than I can name.
What meditation offers is the opportunity to get quiet and shift perspective inward. As we create that shift there is an internal listening that takes place. Here we can move away from the thoughts and patterns that are created on autopilot, Samskaras that no longer serve us, and move towards the creation of new patterns and transformations that do serve us.
The invitation is to start the day with meditation, whether it’s 5 minutes or 35 minutes. Maybe it’s not the very first thing you do but it’s somewhere towards the beginning of your day. It can be seated, laying down, or in your favorite restorative asana, truly whatever works for you. This is time for you to set an intention and create alignment as a proactive way to build resilience in your life. When you move from this grounded place, you have more capacity to shift, adapt, and weather any storm that comes your way.
Transitionary periods can be uncomfortable, venturing into the unknown may be unpleasant and scary at times. The recognition that those feelings of discomfort are okay allows us to hold space for the transition. When we run away from that which we don’t know we fall back into our old patterns and limit our capacity for growth.
Meditation practices can lead us to create new habits even when things are in flux. With intentional tuning in, we build the resilience and the strength we need to embrace all of life’s transitions. The more time we take to tune into ourselves and learn all that we are capable of the more opportunity we have to transform.
In navigating life's transitions, how will you continue to show up for yourself, build resilience, and remember how capable you truly are?
Discover the nature of resilience through the lens of compassion and care and connect with your wholeness in Journey to Well-being: Resilience, a four-part series with Daniel, available on the Chopra App.