Grief and resilience live together. -Michelle Obama

Our theme for April is resilience. It’s the central topic in our Immersion program, the subject for April’s Best of Blue video collection and the theme for my Thursday Movement + Rest series. It feels appropriate to talk about, cultivate and practice resilience after a time of so much grief— as they do, indeed, live together. Sometimes when we are faced with grief, we find we are more resilient than we could have imagined. Other times, we recognize our resilience has waned and we are without the resources to cope. 

So, what is resilience? It is our bounce-back-ability. It is our endurance to continue on with optimism and faith in times of stress and adversity. Resilience is our capacity to recover in moments and seasons when life feels overwhelming. I believe our wells of resilience have been depleted over the course of the past two years, and the losses, stress, sorrow, confusion, sadness and disorientation have taken a toll on our individual and collective well-being. As we take in and hold space for the ongoing trauma and destruction around our world, it is essential that we tend to and cultivate this quality within us, not allowing our joy, hope, faith and confidence to wither.

How do we gather ourselves and sure up inner and outer resources as fuel for the road ahead? What are some steps on the path to resilience?

Compassion From the Latin, compassion means “to suffer with.” You might wonder how “suffering with” is going to help the suffering. But there is power and healing with the acknowledgment and acceptance of what is. And it’s easy to miss the first step: this practice must begin with compassion for self. Pause and recognize the ways you are struggling, hurting, challenged. Allow yourself to feel what you feel (without drowning in it) and inwardly direct unconditioned kindness. Only when we can sit with our own pain, can we look out into the world and recognize and “be with” the suffering of others. Over time, we grow our ability to breathe in that pain, and breathe out love, until the practice expands to be with and hold space for and with the collective. This is compassion.

Connection So, how do you not drown in the pain or dash from the discomfort once you truly see it and feel it? Here we return to the balm of both/and. Your sadness, anger, grief or confusion are valid and real and must be acknowledged if you are to move through them. But they are not the totality of you. They are not, actually, you at all. Emotions represent the internal weather of the moment, and like the weather outside, it’s a very changeable situation. Take time daily, multiple times per day, to connect to the wisdom of the body. The sensation of being. Connect to the breath, always enlivening and inspiring you. Connect to what is good in you and around you. And in whatever ways you can, connect to the people in your life who see and support you: the ones who make you laugh, who listen well, who reflect back to you the light of your spirit. And speaking of Spirit, connect to that which is greater than you, than all of us, in whatever way that makes sense to you. You belong. You are not alone. Connection is always available.

Perspective We get to choose what we believe. In every moment of every day, we can see the worst or the best in any person or situation. We can see ourselves as the victim  or turn the table and make an inquiry about what it is we are to learn from what is happening. Start paying attention. What is your storyline in the moment? Can you change the narrative, your perspective, and in doing so, your reality? Taking a different perspective is one of the most powerful tools we have to change what we can change: our own hearts and minds. Perspective is everything.

Gratitude It’s the medicine. It’s where we should begin and end every day. The longer the list, the better. Take inventory, look around you, clearing away the fog of dissatisfaction. This is not digging your head into the sand. It is not deluding yourself that everything is great when it isn’t; it is the conscious process of tuning your awareness and your heart to a higher vibration. It goes back to perspective. Are you focusing on what you don’t have or what you do have? What is wrong or what is right? Growing a grateful mind and a grateful heart also grows your resilience, as you automatically see more of the beauty and the joy even in times of sorrow. Gratitude fills us up and reminds us we are whole already.

The yoga of resilience is needed now. The time has come to sure up and source strength from both inner and outer resources that you might not just cope but thrive in times of grief, change and adversity. Engage in the practices that increase your adaptability and commune with the humans, the nature, the spirit that feed and nourish your soul. You are accountable for this life you are making, even when it feels like everything is out of your control. Cultivate compassion, consistently connect to what is, learn to change your perspective when your current viewpoint isn’t serving your well-being and be grateful. Always. We have so much.