Session 8: Building Resilience – Practicing Gratitude and Compassion
Source: Dr. Sood. Stressfree.org. Mayo Clinic.
The American Psychological Association (APA) defines resilience as follows:
Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors. It means "bouncing back" from difficult experiences. Source: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/road-resilience.aspx
Positive Psychologist Dr. Barbara Frederickson, author of Positivity and Love 2.0 describes resilience as a resource that can grow, like building a muscle. Her research shows that when people practice positive emotions, they have a faster recovery from stress. She suggests the following strategies:
Instead of feeling like I shouldn’t be hurting, focusing on the blessings you do have in life
Reminding your self “This too shall pass.” “Everything is changing” “Nothing is permanent”
Remembering that you are not alone
Recognizing grief, and the connection you have with others who grieve as well, finding solace in connection
She notes that less resilient people have a negative filter through which they see things. Learning to become more mindful of how we perceive relational and environmental cues, can help us attune to our emotions, and separate what is truly a neutral, positive or negative experience. We be can become more resilient by holding the positive and the negative side by side, and meet the negative with a positive. For example:
“It is really cold outside, yet it is sunny, and like everything, this too shall pass, spring will come”
We can also meet our negative experiences with compassion, soothing ourselves, and repeating words of loving-kindness and compassion:
“This is really hard for me right now, yet I am not alone in my suffering, may I be safe, may I get through this the best as best I can. May I be grateful for the positive things I do have
In this class, we came together as a group, forming connections with those around us, who may be suffering some similar ailments, learning that we are not alone in our suffering.
We learned to develop and practice mindfulness within our bodies and minds, recognizing what we hold and experience, and turning towards it, acknowledging our personal mind-body experience, and allowing it, instead of projecting it outward or pushing it further down into our body.
We also learned to practice compassion towards ourselves, to allow us to sit with our emotions and soothe ourselves through our pain, our stress, our anxieties.
This may have required us to be vulnerable to our emotions, which can be a very scary experience. However, in doing so, in turning toward what is difficult, we are better able to heal ourselves, and build resilience as we move forward.
I would encourage you to keep up the practice of mindful and compassion based meditaitons and practicing loving kindness (May I be safe, peaceful free form suffering and at ease) and sending loving kindness to those around you.
Here is one of my favorite meditations from the Mindful-Self Compassion Program. It is called giving and recieving compassion. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
And here is one of my favorite poems ...
THE GUEST HOUSE
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Thank you for your participation! With much gratitude,