Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Practice of Resilience

Resilience is necessary for survival. It helps us adapt to change. Life is not always easy. We are going to fall. We are going to fail. We do not know what will happen as the future becomes our present. But if we can pick ourselves up, if we can weather the storm, if we can come back from adversity, that is the practice of resilience.

Turtles have been around for 215 million years. They are a symbol of resilience. There has been a lot of change on this earth over their existence but they have been able to survive. Turtles adapt their internal temperature to the external conditions. On land they move slowly, but they are willing to stick their neck out to get where they want to go.

When life is difficult, or when things change in unexpected ways, what do you do? Do you retreat into your shell? Or do you stick your neck out and look around and then slowly begin to move in some direction. Going into your shell metaphorically is OK. The shell is there for protection, relief and recovery. But eventually we need to embrace or at least accept changes and move forward with our lives despite the setbacks and hardships.

Yoga helps us to be resilient. Part of being resilient is being flexible. Part of being resilient is being strong. And part of being resilient is being sensitive to our internal and external conditions.

Many yoga poses are difficult. They put our bodies in positions we are not used to. But this helps us to become more flexible. We need to engage our muscles to move safely into these new positions. This helps us to build strength. As we go deeply into a pose we will reach an edge. This is a place we need to respect or we can injure ourselves. So we need to be sensitive to where we are physically and mentally each time we practice a pose.

Cultivate your ability to adapt to change. Take time to breathe and notice how you are feeling inside and what is going on around you. Be willing to move slowly at times. Challenging times are inevitable, but if you are flexible enough to bounce back these challenges become opportunities.

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