Resiliency in Changing Times

I’m not sure about you, but for me most everything this past year, including Christmas was different. From my own major health challenges and my mother’s passing to staggering political, social and climate catastrophe’s, the extirpation of outdated, systems, beliefs and ways of being that do not serve has disrupted the status quo, leaving most of us quite altered from where we started a year ago.

The roof across the alley from my bedroom window spilled the long low rays of the solstice sun over its ridge onto me as I lay heavily on my bed. Christmas eve day would be dictated by the deep acrid feeling in my belly, tormented from a unusual year of repeated monthly antibiotic toxicity. I felt completely depleted cellularly amongst the discouragement of the continual bodily assaults. But it is Christmas! However my usual approach – to rally in like the rest of the sheep, to the hark and herald song was different this year and I took notice. But it wasn’t just my delicate physical state dictating the shift. No, life was moving me, like many of us along on some unusual trajectory.

In addition to the kids not coming home or not exactly celebrating Christmas this year, my extended family were all staying put, adjusting to my mom’s absence and intentionally scaling back on the usual hype and seasonal stress. Initially I was concerned, having long held the belief and tradition of the Christmas celebration as the pivotal non-negotiable time to get together with family and do it up. Somehow if nothing else, it perpetuates or assumes the illusion, that things are the same and ok.

But maybe they’re not and that may be ok. Facing major change and re-structuring will challenge our emotional intelligence and resilience. In fact I think resilience is both a remedy and a result of life’s upheavals. It’s like courage, you need to have it to get through the challenges and you get more of it by using it. Christmas was delightful long distance calls, followed by a four hour massage and healing session ending with a beautiful meal prepared with love by my daughter and Boxing day visits with dear childhood friends . I marveled at how peaceful and fulfilled I felt. There was no thought “this should be different.”

What I noticed in myself was the amazing capacity to accept what is. I found myself not having expectations about what Christmas would be at all. I thought I would but I didn’t. My ability to re-orientate was refreshing. Normally my emotions would be pulled by my own and my community’s ideas’ of what Christmas ‘should be’. My teacher likes to say, “expectations are planned disappointments” in fact accepting ‘what is’, is the hallmark of most eastern spiritual traditions and a cornerstone of resiliency.

The other cornerstones which make up the foundation of the landing pad of resiliency are perspective, purpose and non-personalization. Resiliency is the ability to adapt and we need that now more than ever, personally and collectively. Resiliency is also the capacity to reimagine to reinvent and to find solutions when there seems to be nothing but barren ground. Often learned through adversity, neuroscience tells us that we can all learn to become more Resilient, it is a skill, one I realize I know quite a lot about, I have had my fair share of trauma and adversity. In fact I have been writing about my journey with trauma and resilience in my memoir, due to be available later this new year. Be sure to follow and sign up for updates on my Blog.

One of the ways that life has been moving me recently is to reinvent my offering to the world. Instead of focusing all on Therapeutic & Adaptive Yoga I am shifting to a new skill I have been developing – Personal Coaching for Resiliency. I’m very excited about this new direction and especially to share it with clients to help navigate through life‘s trials and tribulations. Find out more on my personal site or on Trinity Yoga.  For now I leave you with a poem for the new year of 2020 and may you all be peaceful and prosperous.

Something that will not acknowledge conclusion, insists that we forever begin.” Brendan Kennelly




Retreat of Choice

Do you feel your life has been metaphorically paralyzed? By now, the novelty (if there was any for you) of staying home has probably worn off; and your patience and capacity to deal with the day-to-day reality of social isolation is likely wearing thin too. At the same time, during this insidious pandemic I have been deeply moved hearing the remarkable stories of human compassion, dedication and leadership by the many who are serving on the multiple front lines; thwarting this coronavirus and its wrath from doing more harm.  

The passion and devotion of those who have purpose amidst this crisis, is inspiring and heartwarming. In contrast you may feel like your well-thought-out plans, your once burgeoning project, your special  “this year’s event” has been hijacked and blown-up in midair. And it has. And yes, it stinks. 

It’s not easy when your world changes instantly from order to unprecedented uncertainty. The unimaginable challenge of losing your life as you knew it coupled with not choosing, is the existential crisis we’re all dealing with. When I became paralyzed one of the ways that I was able to navigate the intensity of the similarly unthinkable massive change was to surrender to it entirely, not to fight it. That doesn’t mean giving in to something. It just means allowing and accepting the situation for what it is right now, along with the crucial attitude of curiosity.

As one of my favourite non-dualist teachers Adyashanti, would say, “You can’t argue with reality and win. You can try but it’s futile. So, what do we do?” Stay curious.

Curiosity is the essential ingredient that monks, scientist, meditators, healers, creatives, artists, inventors and seekers bring to any meeting with ‘the unknown’ to allow for the gifts of that entity or experience to reveal themselves. The quest to understand oneself and life, has been the curious thread weaving our collective evolution through time. In truth this quest has always been to understand the unknown, the power of the Life Force, the Divine, God or whatever ‘it’ is behind this all.  

For many and in days gone by this perennial search for meaning and for a deeper understanding of the source and nature of the Life-force was facilitated by retreating into a cave, a monastery, mountain cabin or a mountain peak. The concept to leave the rat race behind and retreat to a place where the societal and personal distractions are minimal is as old as civilization. The current trend of forced isolation doesn’t really capture the aesthetic concept of a retreat, nor of some form of chosen renunciation. It does however qualify as a lifestyle pivot, an abrupt 180. And in stepping back from the world as we know it, the opportunities inherent within a retreat are at our disposal. 

But How Do I Find Purpose When My Life has been Side-Railed?  

A couple of the things that still amaze me after 16 years of living with paralysis is 1) how busy humans can be at insignificant pursuits 2) how crucial our body-mind relationship is no matter what our physical state or lifestyle and how abusive we can be to our bodies. Think about it, we either adore and enjoy our body from an egoic place or we abhor it from a similarly distorted entitlement. In fact our bodies are a sacred system of energy and matter and our only way in, to a deeper and richer understanding of ourselves and our maker. Recent research is proving more and more that the neuroplasticity and agility of the brain (hence mental health) is directly related to the capacity to fully embody oneself physically, mentally and, yes, energetically-spiritually.  

Be fore-warned, when we slow down things that were muffled, drowned-out, tend to get louder. The bird song we are all hearing as a result of planes, traffic and construction shutting down is a wonderful example of this. The more difficult example is the tension you were holding in your body from overwork now feels more acute, the underlying anxiety you could avoid by keeping busy is now disruptive, the difficult relationship you put off until now, or your compulsive habits are all right at the surface, just like the bigger global issues, shouting – Pay Attention to Me! 

When instantly paralyzed most all physical and external forms of choice got taken away from me and I couldn’t ‘get away’ from anything, especially myself anymore. Choice is the coveted trophy for us twenty-first century beings, we really are attached to our power of choice. For us, it is the difference between having arrived and become successful or not. It is also the linchpin in any spiritual relationship.  Humans have for centuries sought out choice and free will, grasping for more and more choice and freedoms. This ‘power’ that we have attained through our minds, innovation and technology is a live fuse if not grounded in earth our bodies and what matters most. With our freedom and choice stripped away so abruptly, we can see the illusion of the power we gave it. We are at a time now where we can live very selfishly or we can couple our capacity for choice and free will, with Divine will.

This may sound somewhat lofty, but in truth it’s what the Mystics, Buddhists and the sages have been saying forever, that a simple life where we acknowledge that the only true power is love; That the true purpose of life is to love and to delve into all of the places where we feel separate from love, or question it – is the most fundamental accomplishment of life. Ultimately by remembering and acknowledging we are not separate from Love from the Source, we can fully embody and fulfill our relationship to It. 

On a simple day-to-day level that means dissolving all the places where you self deprecate, where you doubt yourself, where you detach from your body, your feelings, yourself. It means not projecting, but sitting with your anger, your restlessness, your resentment’s and allowing them to teach you self-compassion and loving kindness.  It means being mindful of your body and your ‘felt sense’ and attending to the simple movement of your breath. It means letting go of ownership of your body and your breath, even of your life and appreciating and living like it’s the gift that it is. 

Slowing down and retreating from the busyness of our consumer world has given us the opportunity to remember the basics: eating well, taking care of each other in ways that stretch our imagination, taking up a creative project or endeavour, reading a good book, teaching your child, growing your own food and long walks in nature.  We are realizing that so much of what we have been doing is taxing the earth, ourselves and our relationships more than we have admitted, especially our personal relationship to the Divine Life-force.  

As I mentioned earlier, becoming paralyzed made physically escaping myself or situations almost impossible, which is similar for many now. Words of another teacher rang in my ear on those long days when I was wondering “how I am going to get through this” to the tune of: “We create our heaven or we create our hell.”  In all honesty, that is the only choice we really have: the choice of how we will respond, who we will become and how we will meet each day. Who we are at a time of crisis or uncertain change, says more about who we are than any job title or sense of power we may have derived from the external world.

So at a time like now use your one mechanism of choice wisely, for yours and the greater good. Take care of yourselves and each other. Be well.



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