In this life, we are faced with unending pressures and demands. How we respond to these demands is critical to whether the continuous pressures and demands lead to unease and distress or whether the demands providing a pathway to building resilience.
In her new book, “Real Happiness at Work”, Sharon Salzberg suggests that resilience means beginning again in a new moment and that this capacity is essential to finding happiness at work. She describes resilience as the ability to bounce back, cope with obstacles, and learn from our mistakes without rumination and regret.
Begin again is a fundamental instruction of mindfulness meditation that is offered over and over again. When the mind loses its focus, let go of what is on the mind and return back to the object of focus. If you meditate, you know that this sounds easy, however, in practice, the return of focus and attention back to the object is challenging. At a minimum you will encounter some natural resistance in the mind that would prefer to pay attention to something it finds more interesting in that moment.
It is for this reason that mindfulness meditation has a lot to teach about resilience. In the programs and classes that I offer, I emphasize the importance of practice and to expect that the mind will wander many times. The wandering mind may often generate thoughts and judgments that the meditation is not working or that something is wrong. This is not a reason for stopping the practice. It is at this point, that resilience is augmented when one simply notes the distraction of the thought and/or judgment and returns to the object of focus in the meditation.
It is through this “beginning again” repeatedly, that one will start to experience a sense of control. It isn’t control over the circumstances that you find yourself in, it is control over your reactivity.