I was watching a show a few days ago on OWN called In Deep Shift. It is about how a challenging occurrence in your life can bring about a shift in consciousness to a higher level. It usually involves having a breakdown then a breakthrough, but it brings new strength to use in your life as a result of facing adversity. These difficult challenges are like obstacle courses that force us to twist and turn in a way that creates a new found sense of resilience and once embraced, can positively affect not only your life, but that of others.
I loved the title as it really does seem to express the feeling we all have when there is a desire within us to make a change, but the process of it initiates some deep inner muck we have to traverse through. Bringing consciousness to ourselves is focusing awareness on what is really going on inside of us, not outside. We stop external striving and make a choice to get off the train and rest at the station for awhile. We take time to linger in quietness and really connect with our own inner self, listening to what we truly need, want and desire.
Alas, this is when resistance can often appear.
Resistance is anything that you revert to doing in order to avoid going deeper into yourself. It is natural because most of us are afraid of really being who we are. Resistance can take many forms and we can come up with many interesting reasons why we must get busy again or not take the time right now to just be still. In actuality, they are all reasons we avoid listening to our intuitive and knowing self. Listening might just take us down a path that seems unfamiliar, out of control or it can even present us with a 360 degree turn from what “we think” is the right answer to ensure our happiness, success, well-being or recovery.
Resilience is an important quality to develop in life, but a revisiting of what it means is probably even more important as the transitions of “advancing maturity” become more apparent in your life. I consider it one of the important ingredients in coming to live life in grace and it is one of the qualities you need to manoeuvre all of the ups and downs of aging.
Dr. Eva Selhub is a resilience expert and clinical instructor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School. She says, “Resilience is about the deep knowing that one has the resources to handle the uncertainties that come with life. She thinks that some people are naturally more resilient than others and better able to handle the pressures of change, but that resilience is also something that can be learned. By committing yourself to shoring up physical, mental and emotional resilience, you’ll be better able to face any challenge, big or small, that comes your way.”
You have to take care of yourself first to be able to do this. Many of us, especially when a caregiving role is taken on, tend to forget this principle very quickly, and succumb to the mounting needs of another to the detriment of our own well-being. Recognizing that a propensity for martyrdom is a pattern worth addressing can initiate a type of breakdown where you must lose your chosen identity. A resistive confusion of who you are without this seeming sense of external value can result.
You must come to grips with the adage, “Change your outlook, change the outcome.” This takes some real inner connection to the truth within you and a focused commitment to making a shift. And yes, you encounter reluctance to face it. However, the simplicity of it is this: you just have to be willing to be willing and really desire a shift to happen. You begin to sense a physical sensation of something changing. When you make a choice to focus consciousness on yourself, you activate a healing process. If you keep allowing it, consciousness will move its healing presence to the place that really needs it. It helps to have tools to do this. One tool is called the Insight Meditation. You use your breath to bring mindfulness to this desire to let go of figuring everything out and practicing how to let go. Sit comfortably in a sitting position and focus on your inhale breath. Breathe in deeply and as you do, imagine the word Rise. Hold your breath, then slowly begin to blow your breath out through gently pursed lips and as you do, imagine the word Fall. This creates a type of breathing mantra that quiets the mind and also takes you into your inner presence, which is where you want to be to truly listen. If your mind starts thinking, as it loves to do, say the word thinking, thinking then return to the gentle inflow and outflow of your breath, imagining Rise, then Fall.
As external circumstances happen or are about to happen in our lives, we get a sense of it. We have a knowing that a transition is coming. We don’t always like it, because on a deep level we understand that we are being called to make a shift in our inner awareness, usually one that is very needed in our lives. Come join with me and other shift shapers in an upcoming workshop called Grace Full Aging: Creating the Life You Want. I believe it is always better to have companions to share the journey with, because life gets so much easier when you recognize you’re not alone.