I am thoroughly fed up with the negative news and social media agendas that are bombarding us from all directions twenty-four hours a day. I realise that we are facing massive global and climatic challenges and changes but it is well recognised by psychologists that continual pessimism kills a person’s creativity. This has serious repercussions. Without the creativity to see beyond our limitations, it’s hard to access resilience – which, to me, should be as much a part of life as breathing in and out.
It’s true that the human narrative is changing, and we can no longer rely on happy ever after endings. But it is time for us all to call on our resilience to reshape the legacy of what we want to leave behind so humanity and other species may continue to experience life on Earth. But how can we do this when those in positions of power have created a paradigm that solely focuses on breathing out into endless growth, expansion and progress to the point that humanity is imploding? As I see it, we have arrived at the time when we have completely emptied our human lung capacity – there is literally no more breath left to breathe out anymore.
For anyone who practices yogic breathing, the space between the out breath and the in breath is where we consciously hold the exquisite moment of experiencing empty lungs before mindfully taking another breath and enjoying the process of what it feels like for our lungs to fill again with sweet life-giving air. This cycle of conscious breathing follows a natural flow which helps us to profoundly connect to the cycles of our own life, to our resilience and to the cycles of the natural world.
However, humanity is not practicing yogic breathing. It is currently trapped in the interval between the out breath and the in breath, and our lungs have gone into spasm. We are hard-wired to survive so when we can’t take a breath, we panic and begin to fight for air. I see this is where humanity is right now: caught in spasm, panic and fight.
But there is a way to break through. It’s about simply reconnecting to the natural cycle of our breath so we can ground ourselves and draw on our resilience to stare hardship and challenge square in the eye and refuse to give up until we find a resolution. Sometimes life can be so unforgiving that resilience is all we have left. It drags us out of bed when we are pulverised by loss and grief. It makes us hold on tight to our dreams when everything is falling around our ears; it encourages us to reach out when we believe we are abandoned. It forces us take that one step at a time as we blindly seek a way through the darkest hours of our life; it teaches us to be flexible in the face of challenge and change, and it helps us to see a much bigger picture of what it means to be a human being entering the flow of life rather than someone manically ‘doing’ to run away from themselves.
So how do we consciously reconnect with our resilience? I believe there are nine keys to this:
- WE NEED TO WAKE UP TO OURSELVES
We have to develop the skills to listen to what is going on inside us. Our body holds all the information we need to make our life work for us, what is true for us, and what is false. So, the first key to connecting to resilience is to wake up to the feelings that we are experiencing in the moment and allowing them to guide us forward.
- ADMIT TO OUR MORTALITY
Life is finite. All of us are going to die. Admitting to our mortality allows us to see ourselves for who we really are – someone who is just passing through this physical existence. Thousands have experienced life on Earth before we were born, and thousands will come after we die. Knowing and accepting that we are part of the larva of humanity helps us to put life back into perspective, and to find ways to live the best life we possibly can irrespective of what may be happening out in the larger world.
- FIND MEANING AND PURPOSE
I was staggered to learn that 85% of workers worldwide say that they hate their jobs (Gallup, 2017). This is no way to live this one precious life that we are experiencing right now. So, it’s essential to take time to explore what fires up our creativity and to discover what makes us feel alive and spontaneous. We need to ask ourselves, ‘What unique gifts do I have to offer?’ And refuse to take none for an answer.
- WE HAVE TO BECOME HUMBLE
Just as resilience is part of the human condition, so is pain and suffering. Suffering strips away ill-placed pride and introduces us to the humility of seeing life for what it is: a series of experiences that begin at birth and end with death. It’s how we respond to these experiences that matters. As Kahlil Gibran says, ‘Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.’
- TAKE PERSONAL RESPONSBILITY
It doesn’t matter if we believe in past lives – it’s this life that matters and the only real mission for all of us is to own the life we have come here to experience. Yes, this can be very scary especially when we have set high expectations for ourselves or when life turns in on itself. But the only way to step out of being a victim is to understand that we are creators of our own reality and to focus on something that nurtures and supports who we are.
- BECOME A RESPONSIBLE ANCESTOR
Life is not just about our immediate family or ancestral line. Taking care of the planet is essential for the survival for all species. For humanity to survive and thrive we need to go beyond our immediate constraints of what we believe life to be and become far more conscious of the flow of all life following behind us. Caring for the Earth is the true meaning of legacy.
- GIVE UP WHATEVER MAKES US UNHAPPY.
When we look outside ourselves for something or someone to make us feel good about ourselves, we end up filled with anxiety because we are terrified of it coming to an end. Giving up what makes us unhappy is about finding ways to deeply connect to our resilience so we can begin to make informed choices about what supports our vision of making this world a better place.
- RECONNECT TO THE EARTH
Our beautiful planet has sustained life for billions of years and made possible the evolution of humankind. But what we term as progress has insidiously eroded away our profound connection to the natural cycles and rhythms of nature. For future generations to survive, we need to learn, once again, to synchronise our own resilient cycle of breath with the Earth’s cycle of breath.
- UNDERSTAND OUR PLACE IN THE UNIVERSE
To put our self-importance into perspective, we just need to look into deep space. One of the most extraordinary photographs I have ever seen is from Voyager 1 as it passed out of our solar system on February 14th 1990, 3.7 billions miles from Earth. Our planet is a minute pale blue dot hanging in a vast expanse of space. It makes me believe there is a far greater plan at work than I can possibly imagine.
When you find yourself overwhelmed by the fear and anxiety that is being spoon fed to us day after day, take a moment to calm yourself by focusing on your breath. Feel your feet firmly on the floor, and, as you breathe out, consciously call on your resilience to make itself known to you. It may appear as a feeling or as a vision or perhaps even a sound. Spend a little time reflecting on the 9 keys to resilience, and perhaps identify certain keys that you may have overlooked or not considered to be part of what makes resilience such an indelible part of who you are.
Resilience makes us feel safe inside ourselves, and I believe this is the human quality which will help to stem the surge of negativity that assails us because it gives us the courage and the determination to stand up and say, ‘Enough! NO MORE! There are far better ways to experience life.’