I am losing the plot! I could have sworn I wrote a blog post two-weeks ago on "Embracing the New Year"... but it turns out, I didn't!
So this post will be three blogs rolled in to one... here goes! :-)...
Throughout January I have been talking to you a lot about the idea of "mental time travel", whereby we tend to either reflect and potentially dwell on the past, or project our thoughts in to the future. Particularly at this time of year when we may have set New Year's resolutions or intentions, and we begin to think about how we can use last year's experiences and lessons to shape and mould our year ahead.
It can be difficult to remain present whilst this is going on. And as much as it is important to have goals, dreams and ambitions (and to put things in to place to manifest these), it is equally as important to remember that ultimately neither the past nor the future actually exist! We cannot control what has been and gone, and we cannot foresee what is yet to come. So we need to learn to embrace whatever challenges may come our way, and our Yoga practice helps us do that in various ways.
Having said that, as you know, last week I found myself feeling stressed!! It is stressful not being able to control particular desired outcomes from time to time. To not know which of your goals, dreams and ambitions may or may not come to fruition in the New Year, may cause a bit of anxiety. So again, we draw upon our Yoga practice for help.
Which leads me on to this week's intention - Yoga for resilience!
Resilience is defined as: 1) the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness; or 2) the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity. Psychiatrist Frederick Flach describes it as "the psychological and biological strengths required to successfully master change".
There is a great article on Yoga Journal about learning resilience, which starts out by reminding us that "most of us hit an "edge" sooner or later", but that "this is always a crucial moment, because the choices that we make when we meet our edge help determine our capacity for that vital human quality known as resilience".
It reads that "Resilience is essential; without a basic supply of it, none of us would survive the accumulated losses, transitions, and heartbreaks that thread their way through even the most privileged human life...
But there also exists a deep, secret, and subtle kind of resilience that is the skill of stepping beyond your edge. This kind of resilience has less to do with survival than with self-transformation. It's the combination of attentiveness, insight, and choice that lets some people tune in to the hidden energy lurking within a crisis and use it as a catalyst for spiritual growth".
"Our yoga practice is meant to teach us how to untangle (our) inner knots. Often, you don't realise how much difference your practice has made until the day that you find yourself dealing with a stressful situation without going into an absolute meltdown... There's a little bit of fear and irritation in your mind... but there's also a witnessing awareness, an inner compassionate presence, that lets you stay present with what's happening without getting sucked into the fear or the anger".
Another article on Yogainternational.com says that "The challenge and unpredictability that comes with practicing yoga... teaches your brain how to flexibly adapt to change... the better your brain and mind are at adapting to change, the easier it becomes to meet stress head-on.... The trick is to befriend change and embrace the wobbling". If we simply "embraced the faltering and uncertainty of yoga (and life), there’s a good chance your body would relax, and your mind might begin to accept what is occurring in the present moment, rather than striving for "how things should be". You might even find yourself laughing instead of grimacing (or cursing under your breath)".
"Facing challenge and flowing with what is, rather than trying to force what isn’t, is the key to building stress resilience and increasing your health and happiness", and "a yogi is someone who can turn every circumstance to his advantage", using stressful and emotional situations as an opportunity for personal growth.