It seems timely to republish and repurpose this post as the Silly Season takes its toll. Not only on me, but perhaps on you, too.
The terrifying storm of last week took out our power for three days. We have lovely friends who donated freezer space for Christmas dinner items that we’d shopped for early. For instance, prawns! We ended up borrowing a generator from a neighbour who didn’t need it. It seems to me that emergencies in Australia bring out the best in people. Despite these kindnesses, I still felt very inconvenienced.
I didn’t do well going without my comforts. Reading with camping headlights at night, watching the laundry stack up, washing dishes by hand and, sorry to admit, no Netflix. I do know that all these are first world problems. Especially when weighed against the recent devastating Indonesian tsunami, for instance.
But if I had prided myself on being an evolved being, it was clear that I needed to step down from my pedestal. I was grumpy and upset simply by the impact of the loss of electricity. I even felt envy as others on our island had their power restored.
Ageing can erode resilience
Just when I’ve needed it the most, I’ve neglected my meditation practice.
I am an elder but that does not always make me wise. One of my goals in doing regular meditation is to develop the quality of resilience. To be able to get myself out of a heavy mood in a reasonable timeframe. To get up off the floor when I feel like I’ve been run over by a Mack truck. The Japanese have a saying, “Fall down 7 times, get up 8.”
The problem with getting older is that ageing can erode your resilience. Things that used to work well don’t anymore. Reading requires close-up glasses. Driving requires distance glasses. Dining out requires a sound-friendly restaurant. Weight creeps up and patience wears down. Fools can no longer be suffered.
The flower of mediation
Meditation offers practice in pausing and breathing. It has let me extrapolate from the peace of my practice to the way I deal with situations in the ‘real world.’ I’ve been able to practice creating a parenthesis around knee-jerk reactions. A buffer between hearing and seeing, and reacting.
The mechanism for how this happens is that meditation ultimately exposes the Self, that part that is aware and capable of watching.
Meditator, Peter Bregman of the Harvard Business Review says:
Unless you find solid footing in your consistent, unshakable Self, you’ll be thrown off balance and lose your way. You’ll change your mind at the first resistance. You’ll become overconfident when praise abounds. And you’ll make poor decisions, just to feel better.
Connecting with your Self is the key to maintaining your equanimity, your peace, your clarity, and your judgment, even in the face of changing circumstances and pressures.
Resilience gives you the space to recover yourself, your best self, your higher self. You get to bounce back.
I was amazed that I bounced back so quickly after our energy company turned our power back on. Yet, I’ve decided I need to recommit to my regular meditation practice. Maybe you’d like to consider such a resolve for yourself, too.