Be Flexible, be effective: be resilient this year
Hope or Resilience for 2017
A dear friend of mine recently passed away, to cap a year of sudden losses of those known and unknown as well as the monumental global political and social upheavals. Georgettes death was not a shock, she was 95 and had been a client of mine for 20 years, and as she entered her final year she demanded of me that when she died I was not to be sad, but dance and be happy. Don’t cry, laugh. Georgette was a tough lady, a combination of an Italian father and German mother, she had no children but amassed a huge extended family of friends who were drawn to her and her husband Peter like moths to a flame. I will miss her stubbornness, her naughtiness, her joy, her fierce anger, her honesty and her sheer resilience.
As I enter the new year and a period of certain uncertainty, I can only hope that my own resilience is as robust as the late Mrs Georgette Collins, of Stanley Studios, Chelsea.
To be resilient is the ability to be flexible when life takes a sharp and strange turn, to effectively cope with difficulty. Georgette had events in her life which no doubt cultivated this quality: her father being interred and deported as an alien in WW2, only to be killed when his ship was torpedoed on its way to Canada. She then spent months in hospital on her back recovering from spinal surgery. This last event taught her the power of patience and stillness.
Resilience is not a personality trait, it is a learned behaviour, and it can be developed through three very simple processes.
Being Open Being Aware, and Taking Action
Being Open and Aware involves the relationships that we foster throughout our lives: to accept events and experiences as they are, without the need to change anything, especially if we cant. This allows us to be with the unpleasantness and difficulties that may blight our lives as we become more aware of our reaction to them, to the thoughts and feelings that arise in any moment.
If we can alter our relationship with our selves, with our thoughts, feelings and sensations as they bombard us, tap away at us or perhaps just meander by, then we will have a much better chance of being with others and perhaps with the uncertainties of life.
The third aspect of true resilience is about taking Action, or being committed to act on something from a foundation of what is important to you, or based on your values. To be resilient isn’t merely about being stoical or steadfast, it is also the need to be decisive rather than hopeful, to try to carve out a meaningful life rather than a dutiful existence.
The wonderful news is that you can learn these three skills through the practice of Mindfulness. By simply giving yourself the time and space everyday, in fact through just 3 minutes a day you will notice a difference.
By just sitting and observing your experiences through meditation and other mindfulness practices regularly you start to change your relationship with your experiences: thoughts, feelings and senses. The incredible fact here is that what we are doing is actively re-wiring our neural networks, so that what was a stressful trigger becomes merely an event in which we may be able to choose our response.
This is how mindfulness and meditation works, and it works to help us be more flexible with adversity and to act more effectively in our daily lives. In other words to be more resilient.
I am holding Introduction to Mindfulness classes on 12th and 17th January both at 7-8pm, leading to the 8 week training in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction in early February.
To book a place on an Introduction to Mindfulness class or for more information on doing the next MBSR course email me here.
So as we enter this most uncertain time, perhaps we can focus on what we can deal with, our own experiences and responses. This is what mindfulness is, this is what resilience is.
Simon is a Mindfulness teacher and coach, Sports and Remedial Therapist, Reiki Master. He is co-director of Chelsea Natural Health Clinic and Corehealth Pilates and Treatment Studio.
His courses run in London Bridge, Chelsea and Crouch End.