Resilient Expansion: Body Like A Mountain, Mind Like The Sky
Updated: Oct 7, 2021
I used to believe resiliency was related to my ability to recover quickly, to be less sensitive and to push through suffering. However, over the years I have come to realize my interpretation couldn't be further from the truth. Resiliency is an expansive softening - more fluid vs elastic. It is something that is within us all the time, we just need to allow it.
I also believe the experience of stress does change us and it needs to change us, hopefully for the better. We are not rubber bands returning to the same level of elasticity after being stretched. Rather, we are multidimensional beings with a nervous system highly linked to how we live and experience the world. Trying to be like a rubber band is a pathway to collapse because with repeated stretching, the elastic weakens and eventually breaks. There is no flow or growth to the experience of being stretched when we act as rubber bands. And this is what happens when we expect ourselves to snap back to our original "shape" after any stressful experience.
Consider resilience as part of our vitality - the unseen wisdom that is innately within each and every one of us. Resilience is a fluid state where we have the ability to expand from and with the stressors. It shows up as soon as we become willing to trust the unknown. Our suffering then has the purpose to deepen our awareness and to open our hearts. The idea of expansive softening as resiliency may seem contradictory for some but ironically, when we allow ourselves to expand there is a grounded and powerful clarity that emerges. All because we are not blocked by our inability to feel uncomfortable feelings. Our energy remains centred even in the midst of chaos.
This intricate relationship between resiliency and expansiveness was reaffirmed for me recently, when I had the privilege of meeting Cynthia Bourgeault PhD an Episcopal priest, teacher and conference leader. Here's what she said about resilience:
" Resilience does not mean you don't feel.
In fact, your heart opens more -
you just trust in the pain now."
Trust in the pain? Yes, that's exactly right. When we turn and face our discomfort and welcome this experience with compassionate curiosity, we step through the portal to expansiveness. The key is to focus on a felt sense rather than the story. Letting go of needing to be right, needing whomever or whatever to be different, dissolves the energy of clinging and grasping. In that moment, we have freed ourselves and can meet the painful feeling with courageous authenticity. We become more whole and our perspective shifts - all because we let our uncomfortable feelings be part of our experience.
Feeling whole immediately increases our capacity to be compassionate for ourselves and others. We are now standing in the foundation of grounded awareness and are able to respond versus react. From here, our bodies have the felt sense of being a mountain rooted in the earth's crust while our minds become as open as a vast sky. We see differently, we listen differently and most importantly, we begin to recognize ourselves in each other - there is no separation.
How to allow resilience? Firstly, trust the power of resilience is already within you, otherwise you wouldn’t be here. Then be willing to let go of expectations of yourself to bounce back or to be unchanged from a stressful experience and instead, see resilience as something that supports your expansion as a human being. A simple awareness of our breathing can make such a difference in the moment. Dr. Bourgeault equates any type of practice to be like river banks where feelings can flow. Such a beautifully poetic way to communicate the real purpose of any practice that brings us into the present moment. It prevents energy blockages. Another suggestion is to try meeting any uncomfortable feeling without interpretation. Make the conscious choice to simply let the feeling be there without the story. Do this for as long as what is comfortable for you - it may be only a few seconds to start. Most importantly, remember to be curious and compassionate with yourself, as this is a lifelong practice. Gradually, over time you will likely experience a felt sense of opening - this is resilient expansion. Body like a mountain, mind like the sky.
If you are interested to learn more about accessing and allowing your own resilience please contact me at info.alexiand.com