Resilience is the quality of development through adversity. How timely.
We all know deeply that this is possible and can rattle off any number of idioms expressing it: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!” “That builds character!” And – for the 2020 wellness scene – “We grow through what we go through.”
We all possess the capacity for resilience. It is a potentiality in each mind that only needs the right conditions to arise. The yoga tradition has known since time immemorial about development through adversity and harnesses it through ascetic practices – vigils, fasts, meditation, kriya and asana and more. In modern day practice we choose to hold difficult postures for long breaths or commit to an hour in a hot room.
It is one thing to have a vague sense of resilience; it is quite another to make it a conscious project. If Resilience Level 1 is knowing the sayings about resilience and supporting friends through difficulty, Level 2 is waking up within our own (natural) struggles with adversity to wonder “What can I learn from this?” Often we will fall back into reaction again and again, only to rise once more to see this broader perspective and open to it the best we can.
With practice, we get better. We see the opportunity within disappointment. We learn to zig and zag. We accept what is and make the most of it, knowing it makes us better. We innovate, evolve, and integrate. We may even someday find ourselves at Level 3, wondering when we will be tested next, ready for the chance. Like the monks of some eastern sects we may even someday give gratitude for adversity.
We can cultivate this perspective with the tools we already have. In the midst of dealing with the crisis, take a deep yoga breath, feel your feet on the floor, and wonder “Where will this challenge take me?”