As I write this Newsletter, I am finalizing writing my training course. It has been a huge journey. Probably the biggest professional development quest I have ever experienced!
And once again, we are in lockdown in Melbourne.
The combination of these two realities has caused me to ‘dig deep’ and go beyond the ‘status quo’ with my thinking about a range of topics.
Resilience is a topic to come under the beam of intense focus during this time. A topic that has gained a lot of attention in education, spawning programs in schools. The dictionary definition of resilience is “recoil; elasticity, physical or mental; buoyant; to leap back”. Hence programs named ‘Bounce Back’!
Pause for a moment and recall advice you have been given in intense times when you felt flattened, disappointed, shocked, or hurt. How did responses like ‘pick yourself up’, ‘move on’, ‘get over it’ … and ‘bounce back’ feel for you? Are there times when these feel helpful? In some circumstances for me they have felt insensitive and ‘generic’; lacking in understanding and compassion. For many they can feel like platitudes – superficial and meaningless. Often there is not much comfort to be found on the receiving end of these from others or reverberating inside our head with our own inner critic!
Resilience does not exist in a vacuum. Ideally, resilient traits stem from a deep inner source. Without this inner resource, simply ‘snapping back’ from adversity is sometimes not sustainable. Adrenal energy and will is often the source, which is not a wise long- term option. Reflex reactions sometimes lack wisdom and kindness and can come at the expense of precious time spent mindfully attending to challenges.
To fully nurture and serve children and adults in times of need, caring, active listening and acknowledgement offer genuine heartfelt support. They also provide opportunities to pave the way for reframing and recovery, and for kindness in action. Most importantly, opportunities to discover ‘silver linings’ … the precious life lessons to be found as we process and reframe adverse experiences.
We need to remember to bestow this grace upon ourselves as well as others. The Covid crisis is a time to deeply honour and respect personal struggles experienced throughout our society.
Upon reflection, I will edit the topic of ‘Resilience’ in my course. I will re-name it ‘Resourcefulness’. The energy of these words is very different. To me resourcefulness speaks to a greater, deeper source of possibilities that can be nurtured over time.
Dr Richard J. Coleman said:
“Remember you don’t learn to sail a boat by yourself in a storm, but rather in a safe, quiet harbour. So, we can learn to relax and use our breathing in a quiet and peaceful place.”
The daily practice of meditation is a beautiful way to grow this resource. A cherished time to take time from the busyness of life, like a boat coming back from turbulent seas to a safe, reliable harbour within. A time to reconnect and become aware of the rich inner world beneath the surface of everyday awareness. A time to cultivate and refine our skills of compassionate awareness for the self, others, and the world, and a time to clear the mind of the inevitable clutter that obscures the transcendent and creative potential of our minds.
The investment of time spent in meditation culminates in developing a profound resource. An ‘inner well’ of self-knowing, imbued with kindness and wisdom to draw upon in times of challenge and need.
A dedicated meditation practice is the resource that gives rise to living mindfully. Throughout the day, seizing ways to retune body, mind and spirit to reset the brain. Ways to find simple, safe and joyful harbours amidst our daily routines. What are some of yours? Write them down. They are so worth remembering!
As I work from home, I punctuate my day with simple little yin/yang rituals. Often these include coming to my senses in the present moment: quiet, still moments to savour a delicious cup of organic coffee or herbal tea, appreciating the sunshine beaming through the window, listening to birdsong outside and active moments to stretch, have a ball game in the garden with our dog, and dance around my office between tasks to all kinds of music! All kinds of simple ways to connect to simple little ‘harbours’ for body/mind/spirit throughout the day.
The journey of growing these resources can happen at any stage of life. A golden time for seeds to be sewn for this foundation is in childhood. Using creative, play based activities children can experience joy as they create their personal inner resources for a life- time of mindful living. Over time they can curate, develop this resource as they navigate their way through the adventures, and occasional misadventures of a life well lived.
As I searched my library of photos for this blog, I found this precious image of the resourcefulness and resilience of nature. When we moved into our home, we noticed a miniature cyclamen courageously blooming in a crack between bricks on the front steps. During a scorching summer, it disappeared. Hoping to keep it alive, I watered the steps all summer. Lo and behold in autumn, it resurfaced! But as he ‘cleaned up’ with his whipper-snipper, my partner forgot about it, and beheaded it! In one month, it grew back, and became a tiny symbol of resilience for me.
Do not underestimate a strong connection to your roots!
Author, speaker and mindfulness educator Janet Etty-Leal has taught creative, holistic mindfulness practices for more than 15 years. Her consultancy, Meditation Capsules, has provided mindful life-skill programs for corporate, health, sport and community organisations and more than 80 schools and educational organisations.
Janet did her initial meditation teacher training with Dr Ian Gawler and is mentored by Bob Sharples.
A passion to support children and the people who care for them has fuelled the development of ‘Meditation Capsules’ programs for children from 3-18 years of age. She has facilitated training programs for teachers, therapists and youth workers.Janet is a registered teacher with a background in Creative Arts. Decades of experience and study in the fields of meditation and life skills have culminated in informative and engaging Seminars, Workshops and classes. She is a Meditation Australia board member.