Developing Resilience with Mindfulness
The latest buzzword in corporate America — besides mindfulness, at least—is resilience, a collection of qualities that allow people to adapt to change, deal with challenges, and bounce back from hardship. But of course you don’t have to work in an HR department to know that everyone can use a healthy dose of resilience to cope with stress in these difficult times.
Wouldn’t you like to wake up each morning with the energy and confidence to respond to whatever life sends your way? Well, the good news is that meditation is perfectly designed to show you how.
Psychological resilience is generally defined as the ability to properly adapt to stress and adversity. As a human being, you’re born with this capacity, though of course some people have it in greater measure than others, and you can cultivate it with practice. Some experts distinguish between resilience (which they see as a process you go through to cope with and bounce back from difficulties) and resiliency (a trait that you inherit or develop through life experience).
In either case, resilient people don’t fall apart in the face of adversity; instead, they become stronger as they face and learn from it. In the midst of challenging situations, they tend to maintain positive attitudes and mind-states (particularly self-acceptance), stay open to finding the benefits and meaningful lessons, have the emotional intelligence to accept difficult feelings without being overwhelmed by them, know how to draw on deeper inner resources, and persist in moving toward their goal despite the setbacks.
By cultivating nonjudgmental awareness of what’s happening in the present, both inside and outside of you, mindfulness meditation helps you to develop these qualities. Numerous studies have found that mindfulness activates the part of the brain responsible for keeping you happy, upbeat, and optimistic, and applying mindful awareness to thoughts and feelings creates an inner spaciousness that allows you to be with your experience without believing the stressful stories your mind churns out.
Besides, mindful awareness enables you to see life clearly and respond appropriately rather than react, and it teaches the focus and consistency necessary to keep moving forward in the midst of life’s inevitable challenges. Indeed, recent research suggests that mindfulness is the best technique you can use to keep on going in a balanced way when the going gets tough, which is the essence of resilience.