"We will stop the pipeline, and we will do it peacefully," said Catcher Cuts the Rope, an army veteran protesting on the North Dakota plains, this past September (Photo: Alyssa Schukar for the New York Times).
In today’s turbulent times, resilience is a much needed tool. It helps us recover and show up in a new form, for ourselves and in the world, just like building a new house. Yoga can be a huge help in the process.
Many of us in the U.S. are experiencing intense feelings of distress, right now. Many are having a hard time coming to terms with the presidential election results; racial injustice and endemic poverty are becoming more visible to those who were previously oblivious; as well as environmental and cultural crises, such as DAPL (Dakota Access Pipeline), the proposed construction of a major crude-oil pipeline that would have passed through the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s ancestral lands, in North Dakota, threatening the drinking water supply for a large part of the Midwest, in addition to the destruction of culturally sacred, protected land.
Right after the presidential election, as I contemplated the next steps for a divided country, one word came to me —Resilience. In material science, resilience is the ability of a material to deform elastically. One of my mentors, Laurent Malterre, a Parisian licensed psychologist, describes resilience as, “the capacity to find a new form, a ‘new house’, in a life that has been wounded.”
Each one of us has to find the “tools” that will help us build our own resilience, our own new house and new “self”. Here are the materials that work for me. I hope they’ll inspire you to find yours.
First, I’ve found that whatever difficult situation I’m faced with, I need to actually accept the situation. The key is time. Acceptance takes time and that’s perfectly okay. When I was diagnosed with my second breast cancer in June 2014, I first felt an un-describable sadness—Why me? How could life hit me that hard once again? It is only when I accepted the diagnosis (which took weeks) that I started to reach out to my inner healer and outside help.
Hope and faith are other components of resilience. Back 2.5 years ago, a powerfully intuitive friend of mine and a reflexologist, Rodrigue Vilmen, guided me through my medical treatments, sharing his insights. He started showing me how the universe was supporting me, in the smallest ways. I started paying attention to those small signs, and seeing them as positive energy and guidance for the next step.
The situation turned tricky, though. Complications following my surgery brought on an infection and an incision that simply wouldn’t heal. I felt so discouraged. Finally, one day, my surgeon said, “For the scar to heal, I need you to have faith.” From then on, I KNEW that I was going to heal, and accepted the process with patience. And sure enough, I did—months later, once I truly let go, and had faith.
Voice and purpose
Finding my own voice has been one of the most powerful ingredients to resilience that I’m still currently in the process of uncovering. Who am I? What does my soul long for? What are my dreams? What is the purpose of my soul, and of my life? Taking tangible steps to live more aligned between what I feel, say and do has been the most beautiful gift I have offered to myself. The most recent step was to let go of my career of 25+ years as a business writer to dedicate more time to teaching and educating on yoga therapy.
And lastly, there is yoga. I would not be who I am without yoga. Yoga helps me get back to my soul--to pause and feel where I am--to rest and to check in on the new house that I’m building. It helps me to find meaning in resilience—which, really, is all about finding the new me.
What about you, are you ready for the new “you”?