Greater resilience allows you to better cope with adversity, reducing negative thoughts and anxiety. Mindfulness meditation helps you develop it.
Aria had been sleeping three or four hours a day for almost a month and couldn’t take it anymore. She received the news of her dismissal like a jug of cold water: things in the company were not going well, it was rumored that they had started an ERE, but she was clear that she was not going to leave, she had been working for so many years and giving everything for her company that it was impossible for it to be her turn. That was Maria, an optimistic woman, a fighter, with a great capacity for work and a positive attitude.
When he received the harsh news, he began to plan everything he was going to do. He was very clear that he would get another job shortly and wanted to take advantage of the time he had sorting the photos piled up in endless shoe boxes, cleaning his closets, reading two or three books that he had pending and resting. He needed to rest and forget about all this.
But something did not go well: after two weeks he felt really bad. There was an internal voice that constantly reminded him that he was not going to get a job like the one he had as a laboratory salesman, not so soon, not so well paid. Also, the last conversation with her boss came to her memory all the time. How was it possible that at this point she believed she was not a great professional? This was sapping his self-esteem. He felt insignificant and his strength was diminishing every day.
The four walls of her house ate her up. He had always been a cheerful, laughing and joking person, but now he was not able to recognize himself and completely fell apart.
He began to have trouble sleeping. She was absolutely lost and desperate, almost unable to breathe, with pain that she had never suffered, tense, dejected, tired, dizzy and completely convinced that she was worthless. He did not understand how he had come to feel so bad.
MINDFULNESS TO FACE BAD TIMES
After several medical consultations and, after trying several anxiolytics, Maria chose to follow an 8-week mindfulness program. He had already received a couple of talks in the lab to combat work stress and was very curious about it.
After finishing the first class and receiving precise instructions on the practices that she had to carry out, Maria felt an optimism that she had not been able to find for weeks. For her it was something new, unknown, and as she practiced she began to feel much better.
Little by little, she gained confidence, doing meditations such as observing sensations in the body and breathing, body exploration, mindful walks in parks and the countryside near her home, and gentle yoga exercises.
His day-to-day activities also took on a new meaning, as he now put all his attention on it. He felt that his life could unfold in the present moment. Although he did not like this present as much as the times that already belonged to the past that was precisely what he had now. The time of his old job was no more.
She was able to push away negative thoughts about herself and regained her old optimism. His days began to be tinged with a luminous and conscious hue.
Getting a good night’s sleep took a little longer, as at night she felt her anxiety return. Her commitment to the practice and confidence that it would work meant that within weeks she was able to fall asleep almost every day.
Every day she felt more secure, stronger and connected to what gave her life meaning. He had the feeling of having lived through hell, but now he saw all that very far away, he felt very different.
A TOOL TO GET TO KNOW YOURSELF BETTER
The first outbreaks of anxiety attacks are characterized by not knowing what is happening to us. We feel so bad that we think we are dying. The sensations that this psychopathology produces are absolutely unpleasant and almost always unfounded, related to future fears that most of the time do not occur.
Maria thought she was never going to work again. Her beliefs of “I cannot”, “I do not know” and “I do not serve” had settled in her in a matter of a few days, and that negative and repetitive thought did not allow her to live or sleep.
The stoppage of her professional activity allowed her to find herself face to face in a way that she had never experienced before and for which she was not prepared.
The development of mindfulness made her see things differently, and she began to notice that she liked this intimacy and depth towards herself. It was like discovering yourself little by little.
She thought she was known, liked, and loved. This new perspective of internalization was giving her a lot of knowledge, details of her life that she had forgotten, like the nights without sleep and how nervous she got with the exams or her insecurity when it came to defending her points of view. Throughout her life, María had covered all this to develop an outward-oriented personality, to look good, to always fulfill what was expected of her at work, at home, as a mother, as a daughter.
He could not fail. It must not fail. Making mistakes was not allowed.
TURN FEARS INTO STRENGTHS
Faced with this new knowledge of herself, she was discovering another, kinder Mary, capable of forgiving herself and allowing herself to fail. He was learning to turn his fears into strengths.
Accustomed to controlling everything, when she had to experience such a drastic change, she could not cope with it. Previously, it had never been considered that things could change, the impermanence of the facts, of life itself. He did not accept not to continue enjoying his life as he had it mounted. She lived so fast that those realities were unknown to her.
In her mindfulness classes, she spoke in depth with the teacher about change and was aware that impermanence existed for her and for everyone. Rather, she understood that she was not the only one who suffered, that life gives you moments of suffering and learning and that she could understand this part of her life as an adventure with new opportunities to discover.
CURB NEGATIVE THOUGHTS AND ANXIETY
Maria found a way to create a kind of island or anchor of salvation when everything went wrong. Thanks to the mental training that was emerging with the practice of mindfulness, she was aware when her thoughts began to torment her. The important thing was to come to realize it and not let the mind go along its classic paths.
Once she found herself in the middle of a mental dance, it was easy for her to focus on breathing in the abdomen area. As his teacher used to say: the first thing is to “realize it”, and the second thing is to go “from the thinking mind to the observation of the sensations in the body.”
And when it took him a little longer to fall asleep, he had learned how to stop blaming himself and accept the situation and open up to his own kindness. That treating himself well, with care and affection , accompanied by gestures such as putting his hands to his chest and giving himself understanding, made him fall into the arms of Morpheus every night.
So little by little she let go of the ghosts of fear and anxiety to rediscover herself in those gifts that she appreciated so much about herself: her sympathy, warmth and capacity for empathy. She reconnected with her life purpose and became a more mature, strong and resilient woman.
Now she did feel ready to undertake a job search and even other projects.
WHAT IS RESILIENCE AND 5 KEYS TO DEVELOPING IT
Resilience according to the APA (American Psychological Association) is the ability of the human being to adapt or grow in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threat or significant sources of tension such as family problems, health, work stress or financial problems.
According to Doctor of Psychology Silvia Fernandez Campos, director of the Contemplative Accompaniment in Death (ACM) program and instructor of the course Resilience: Five qualities taught by Nirakara, describes the five qualities that need to be cultivated to strengthen resilience:
- Accept impermanence and vulnerability: All of us go through suffering and change sooner or later. This law of change or impermanence is a universal law widely described in Buddhist traditions.
- Develop equanimity and kindness: These qualities emerge with mindfulness practices. Finding an axis to hold on to when you are suffering, usually the observation of the respiratory process or some sensation in the body, serves as an anchor to turn to when you feel that your thoughts are overwhelming you and your difficult emotions seem to settle in order not to go away.
The continued practice of observing our bodily phenomena causes something to penetrate us to give more balanced responses to our usual reactions. The self-knowledge that is emerging makes us kinder to ourselves. A “love” very different from what you felt for yourself before and that seemed like love.
- Cultivate strength: We become strong when we positively believe that adversity happens to us to grow and transform us. When we exchange stiffness for flexibility, when we are optimistic and confident in ourselves, when we commit ourselves and adopt an attitude of courage and courage in the face of fear and pain.
- The Search for Meaning: This concept was developed by Viktor E. Frankl in his book Man’s Search for Meaning. His vital experience of living with his family in a Nazi concentration camp led him to develop his psychological theory based on existentialism. Giving everything for lost, he was able to recognize life as worth living, inner freedom and personal dignity are indestructible. Know what your purpose in life is and connect with it as many times as necessary.
- Social support: Friends, relationships, social connection and models of social inspiration are of key importance in building resilience.