Meditation for resilience
Build a more resilient mind and body in yoga and in life with this simple meditation. By Jill Lawson
Life’s hardships are a lot like challenging yoga poses. They put us in unfamiliar positions and have us stretching and struggling beyond our comfort zone. Yet, whether or not we overcome the difficulty entirely, the experience leaves us a little more robust, more flexible, and better able to handle the next hurdle.
Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from challenging situations.
Our ability to spring back into shape is directly related to our ability to be physically, mentally, and emotionally flexible. Over time, the elasticity we develop gives us the leeway to bend, and it keeps us from breaking when times are tough. Training your mind and body to be more resilient is a valuable practice, and yoga is a perfect way to hone your skills.
The following meditation will help you transfer the benefits of your hard work on the mat and bring them into your life.
Do it now
Begin this meditation as soon as you find yourself struggling in a yoga pose. Perhaps your teacher has you holding a plank, or they have you contorted into a deep stretch for longer than you’d like. Whenever you feel challenged, start by taking an inventory of the sensations in your body. Are your triceps burning? Do you have the urge to move when you need to be still?
Next, focus on the most vital sensation. It could be a physical, mental, or emotional feeling. Put all of your awareness into this most challenging sensation. Take a deep breath, and with your exhale, do not try to ‘overcome’ the feeling. Instead, admit how uncomfortable you feel at this moment.
Now, ask yourself, how bad can it be? You’re still alive, are you not? While your body may be quivering and your mind impatient, these feelings are temporary. In a fleeting moment, they will be gone. Knowing this will help you better handle the situation.
When the challenge has passed, bring your awareness to a place deep within yourself. I bet you notice a sense of empowerment. What you are witnessing is your resilience muscle growing. While the next challenge may not be any easier, it’s likely a more significant challenge by comparison.
This meditation works for everyone at all levels and abilities. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t yet overcome a specific challenge because whenever you meet unpleasant sensations instead of avoiding them, your ability to withstand them increases.
With help from our most challenging yoga poses, we learn how to bounce back when life brings us down.
Jill Lawson is a writer and yoga teacher enjoying life on the island of Maui in Hawaii (jilllawson.net)