Emotional Resilience Through Mindfulness
Happiness is not something we create, it is something we have to allow. 90% or perhaps 100% of our emotional pain, suffering or stress comes from our inability to allow life to be exactly the way it is. I don’t mean to give up or become a victim to your situation; Instead, what I am talking about when I say allow, is noticing the battle between your ears and working to step back from it and allow life to be.
You see, the mind fights with life and that is actually what causes us emotional stress. The core of our anxiety, depressive feelings and fears begin in the mind. We feel these in our body and then our mind reacts once again, with resistance and judgment to the emotions it triggered and was responsible for in the first place.
My wish for every teacher, parent and student is to become more powerful, confident, inwardly peaceful and outwardly successful than you’ve ever dreamed of. Don’t ask me how long this will take because that answer is entirely up to you. This is an indefinite plan. My wish for you is that you can sit back and observe your life and are inspired from within and when you pause, you experience a deep love for what you see without even having to think of the word ‘love’ because you can feel it. There is love in your being that’s always been there, it's just about learning how to get out of your own way to be able to tap into it. And once you do, what you’ll have is the skill of emotional resilience.
It should just be a given in life, but unfortunately, most of the time, with the most incredible people it takes some great ambition to feel this love coming from within rather than from our heads, how popular we are, the possessions we own, the shape and size of our body or from other people's words of validation.
The key to emotional resilience is to be able to let go of these two traits: 'Holding on' and 'resisting'. The aim of developing this resilience through mindfulness is to help you optimise yourself and function at an even higher level than what you are already capable of.
'Holding on' is when the mind desperately holds on to something and refuses to let it go, such as an idea about who we need to be or how the world should be. The consequence of holding on is often referred to as attachment, and when our reality does not meet the blueprint of the mind (what it is attached to); “this is what I need to do in order to be enough”, “my partner should X”, “I shouldn’t feel Y”; we suffer. Thich Nhat Hanh has a very nice way of putting it; "Wilting flowers do not cause suffering; it is the unrealistic desire that flowers not wilt that causes suffering".
Resistance is when the mind desperately keeps something away and refuses to let it come near, such as a feeling of sadness or shame, an event we fear will bring pain or upset or isn’t how we believe it “should” be, or a situation where we feel out of control. These traits oppose each other, and the mind is either doing one or the other. The key skill here for us to develop, cultivate and maintain, isn't about a skill of the mind, but a skill that works to go beyond the mind. And that is - emotional resilience through mindfulness.
Mindfulness is observing what is going on in the present moment, both within yourself and within life with a sense of curiosity, acceptance and non judgment. It also allows us to find a deep sense of joy in life with or without the normal circumstances that we feel create this joy or happiness. People underestimate the miracle of life, because the mind is so busy with it’s opinion and our attention is so caught up in it’s story, we don't notice all the things in front of us that are magnificent. Such us our body, working with trillions of actions per cell without us batting an eyelid. And when we don't notice things that can bring us great joy, well, we feel no joy. Life is dull, we get bored and shrivelled inside. Mindfulness gives us the skill of experiencing a deep essence of joy, sitting, just being.
The natural curiosity of mindfulness places us in a state of growth and openness, allowing things to happen “for us” as opposed to “to us”. It eliminates the victim mindset. Acceptance and non judgment go hand in hand, bringing us power, freedom and the opportunity to make necessary changes in life to the things within our control, without the drama, and accept the things we have no control over as they are. It’s an observation of life and seeing the mind's chatter about what is going on (holding on and avoidance) and not giving into the story of it. Not feeding it your life force and pulling you down.
We feel powerful when we have the ability to recognise that we do not need to react to the mind. We don’t need to hold on and we don’t need to avoid - in fact, we, as in you and I are not doing the holding on and avoiding, it’s the mind, but when we don’t take responsibility for the mind, then we become it and it runs our life. The holding on creates heaviness and the avoidance cultivates fear. So, if you don’t have emotional resilience or a sense and practice of mindful awareness in your everyday, you are either feeling a variation of heaviness or fear.
Life works as a stimulus - pause - response. Life is the stimulus and our reaction is the response. The pause, well most of us have no idea this exists because we are so used to reacting or unconsciously believing the mental opinion about the stimulus and thus, we feel we have no power. Well, here is the ticker, you have power, when you recognise that there is a pause, and what you do in that pause determines your life. Mindfulness is the empowered and conscious pause between stimulus and response. This is the core of emotional resilience. Because life happens, we happen, emotions happen and there is no stopping that. It’s how we filter, react and respond that determines our fulfilment, discipline, actions and most of all quality of emotional experience in each moment.
The more we are able to create space between stimulus and reaction, the more control we will have over our emotional lives. When we pause, become present, curious and accepting, there is no emotional stress. We might still have emotions, but mindfulness practice has us being curious and non judgmental about them. What we resist persists and what we surrender to dissolves and sets us free. Mindful living sets us free.