Hey there, during the last days the word Resilience has been haunting my thoughts.
The more I teach Yoga, the harder I can’t help thinking about Resiliency and Rehabilitation.
The benefits, and tools for engaging into this journey aims to take our physical and mental bodies to its original or closer state of wellness, and bliss.
As described through several articles on this blog, Yoga provides many benefits to our existence on daily matters.
However, there is an extended benefit that provides the military community, and overall society the required tools to aim “Rehabilitation” which happens to be an important goal of medical readiness within the military.
Yoga develops awareness, and military training does the same.
Rehabilitation begins through the practice of Resiliency.
Practicing resiliency provide us the necessary tools for transforming emotional, and physical pain into a compassionate memoir.
The Art Of Resiliency Through Yoga:
Originated in ancient India, Yoga means “union” between the mind, body, and spirit.
It involves the practice of physical postures sometimes referred to Asana in Sanskrit.
As the name suggests, the ultimate aim of practicing yoga is to create a balance between the body, and the mind in order to attain self-enlightenment.
It’s the oldest physical discipline in existence known to humankind.
Yoga brings stability to the body, and the wavering mind.
It increases the lubrication of joints, ligaments and tendons of the body.
Studies in the field of medicine suggest that Yoga is the only form of physical activity that provides complete exercise to the body, because it massages all the internal organs and glands.
Resilience is essential without a basic supply of it:
It might sound harsh, but none of us would survive the accumulated losses, transitions, and heartbreaks that thread their way through even the most privileged human life.
Psychologists have pointed out we become resilient when we commit ourselves to embrace, and deal with pain (which is inevitable, and unavoidable in human life) without getting lost in the suffering .
Suffering is the state in which our fear of pain, and our desire to avoid it close us off to the possibilities inherent in every situation.
The mind is like a phantom that lives only in the past or future.
It’s only power over you is to draw your attention out of the present.
A common misapprehension is that resilient people are free from negative emotions or thoughts, remaining optimistic in most or all situations.
To the contrary, resilient individuals have, through time, developed proper coping techniques that allow them to effectively, and relatively easily navigate around or through crises.
In other words, people who demonstrate resilience are people with optimistic attitude and positive emotionality, and are, by practice, able to effectively balance negative emotions with positive ones.
There is a popular book called The Resilient Spirit where Jungian psychologist Polly Young-Eisenstadt discusses the matter of the metamorphosis process on resilient people in an elegant and simple way.
She points out that we become truly resilient when we commit ourselves to dealing with the inevitable and unavoidable pain in human life—without getting caught in the state of suffering in which fear of pain and the desire to avoid it at all costs closes us off to the possibilities inherent in every situation.
Great spiritual practitioners all offer the same basic prescriptions for undoing inner knots of the human psyche:
1. Find yourself
2. Do the practices that purify the cloudy mind
3. Discover how to embrace everything that happens to you by allowing difficulties to become life lessons.
“Pain and loss are opportunities for profound personal transformation”.
The Holy Grail through Yoga:
There is a saying…
“A yogi is someone who can turn every circumstance to his or her advantage.”
Patanjali, the ancient physician who compiled the Yoga Sutras believed that these three essential yogic actions cut through the core of suffering:
(a)tapas (intense effort or austerity)
(b)svadhyaya (self-study or self-inquiry)
(c)Ishvara pranidhana (surrender to the higher reality)—strike at the very root of suffering
Patanjali believed that we suffer not because bad things happen but because we are blind to obscuring forces called kleshas.
The klesha are the ignorance of who we are, egotism, attachment, aversion, and fear ; they act as “psychospiritual cataracts,” or cognitive veils that skew our vision.
Jungian Psychologists define klesha as the shadow. This is the animal side of our personality (like the id in Freud).
It is the source of both our creative and destructive energies.
In line with evolutionary theory it may be that Dr. Carl G. Jung’s *archetypes reflect predispositions that once had survival value.
These “psychospiritual cataracts” make us imagine that we’re separate from others and the universe.
They delude us into over-identifying with our bodies and personalities, into pleasuring a fantasy self and avoiding anything that gives us pain.
Kleshas keep us in perpetual fear.
This motivated ancient yogis to do a daily yoga practice — to overcome the kleshas.
When free from them, we naturally expand into heartfelt joy and the freedom to be our authentic self.
The basic methods for cutting through the kleshas are tapas, self-study, and surrender.
They are also the secret of true resilience.
The Power of Tapas:
One of the best reason to do a daily yoga practice is to overcome the kleshas. When free from them, we naturally expand into heartfelt joy and the freedom to be our authentic self.
Tapas literally means “heat”—the inner heat created as we undergo discipline or hardship for the sake of change.
When we understand tapas, any hardship can be seen as a purifying fire, removing veils from our awareness.
Understanding the concept of tapas as purification has taken many through challenging situations such as surviving a 20 hours plane ride or a life threatening illness or the death of a child or parent.
An intentional daily yoga practice gives you the opportunity to push the edge in your practice.
Every time you push yourself to try a new pose or to hold a pose longer, you build emotional strength.
Every time you push your inner warrior to the edge in a pose or flow sequence, you build the strength to be braver, and bolder in your daily life choices.
Meditation can help you sit through boredom, mental restlessness, and emotional up without restless reactive energy just as it can help you rise into confidence to take on a challenge you had previously avoid.
Other forms of tapas are truth telling or showing kindness, and nonviolence.
During the tough times, tapas means pure endurance (hanging tight when fear, sadness, and frustration threaten to set us up to spin out).
In these moments of profound stillness, we become heirs to our spiritual predecessors who experienced longer periods of difficulty, doubt, and darkness without losing sight of the light.
The Power of Svadhyaya:
The word is composed of Sva, meaning “self” or “belonging to me,” and Adhyaya, meaning “inquiry” which refers to “getting close to something.”
Therefore, Svadhyaya allows us to become closer to our true self through instrospective inquiry.
Small “s” self
As we engage in Svadhyaya, we become aware of our mind, ego, personality, and also our physical bodies.
Until we deeply examine our thoughts, words, and behavior and align them with our highest integrity, it will be difficult to become the best we can be as human beings.
And it will be nearly impossible to pursue our spiritual growth.
First level of Svadhayaya encourages to observe all of our relationships.
How am I treating my partner, friend, parent, child, co-worker, subordinate, boss, or even a stranger in a grocery store?
What is the quality of my speech—am I speaking truth to others?
Am I loving in my communications, or angry?
Do I listen to others, or do I only want to talk?
This inquiry applies to our relationship with our own self as well.
How do I treat myself?
What are my beliefs and attitudes about who I am, and what I’m capable of?
Do these attitudes support me?
Do these thoughts affect how I behave towards others?
How do I treat my body?
Am I loving and compassionate towards my body and myself?
Self-inquiry can be a moment to moment practice of self-observation.
It can ranges from connecting with the breath to noticing emotions arise during an argument.
It also includes reading self-help books, going to counseling, taking personal growth workshops, journaling or artwork, and a vast number of other experiences that heighten self-awareness.
Yoga encourages to observe the responses of our body and the reactions of our mind.
The second and more traditional aspect of Svadhyaya is the study of the “Self” with the capital “S” our Divine essence.
Svadhyaya is a practice of getting to know our true nature, beyond our personality, thoughts, body, or emotions.
It includes studying spiritual texts, practicing meditation or breathwork, chanting, or prayer, all of which are forms of yoga.
It may involve going to a teacher, minister, or spiritual gathering for inspiration and understanding.
There are many ways in which we can unearth a deeper connection to the Divine within.
Ramana Maharshi, a well-known yogi of the early 20th century, suggested one simple spiritual practice of self-inquiry.
He recommended the repetition and contemplation on the question, “Who am I?”
The “I” he referred to is none other than the capital “S” Self.
Beyond the layers of titles we associate with ourselves (like mother, doctor, husband, friend, accountant, Latino, woman, Methodist, etc. ) and beyond the sense of me and mine, there is a space of Self.
It is the ultimate goal of yoga, the sense of Union with all that is.
By practicing this question Maharshi asserts that eventually, the true essence reveals itself.
Integration during Yoga:
Whether you are on or off your yoga mat, you can incorporate Svadhayaya into your daily life.
When I tell the students (at the begining and end of a practice) to focus attention on their inhalations and exhalations.
To observe how everything within spans with the inhalations and everything releases with the exhalations.
To observe (without attachment) thoughts, emotions, and sensations is facilitating their way to Svadhyaya.
Reflect on the impact of deepening your inhalation, lengthening your exhalation, holding the breath, and releasing it.
Ask yourself: What does the breath, right now, teaches me about myself and life?
Take the chance to explore how breath awareness connects you more deeply with the universe, nature, or the Divine itself.
Then apply these observations a conversation with your neighbor; negotiating an important bussiness, a hike through the woods; taking an exam; or even returning a phone call.
The Power of Ishvara pranidhana:
Ishvara pranidhana is not about what your yoga can do for you, but about approaching your practice in the spirit of offering.
For Patanjali, Ishvara pranidhana is a potent method for dissolving the endless agitations of the mind, and thus a means to the ultimate unified state of yoga: SAMADHI
Because it shifts our perspective from the obsession with “I”—with our narrow individual concerns and perspective—that causes so much of the mind’s distraction and creates a sense of segregation from our main Source.
Since Ishvara pranidhana focuses not on ego but on the sacred ground of being, it reunites us with our true Self.
As Indian yoga master B. K. S. Iyengar states in his Light on the Yoga Sutras:
“Through surrender the aspirant’s ego is effaced, and…grace…pours down upon him like a torrential rain.”
Like the descent through layers of tension to rest in the release of Savasana (Corpse Pose), Ishvara pranidhana provides a pathway through the obstacles of our ego toward our divine nature—grace, peace, unconditional love, clarity, and freedom.
For instance, Savasana is a sacred part of any Yoga practice.
If you leave the practice (without Savasana) you miss an important self-scanning of physical effort reward, love, forgiveness, surrender and reconciliation with yourself and your divine light.
We become resilient when we accept and make peace with our imperfections, we learn to forgive, let go and move on from past suffering focusing at the present, without self-judgement and judgement to others. We work for a better tomorrow through Yoga.
This is why Yoga is “THE HOLY GRAIL FOR RESILIENCE”.
Last but not least:
” I DON’T BREAK, I BEND”
Glenda Lee Santos; Humble Military and Yoga Warrior; RYT-200 hrs; Criminal Justice, BA; Holistic Practitioner with Foundation in Yoga and Ayurveda.
1. Yoga for Warriors: Basic Training in Strength, Resilience, and Peace of Mind; Beryl Bender Birch; (1st Edition).
*Archetypes (Jung, 1947):
are images and thoughts which have universal meanings across cultures which may show up in dreams, literature, art or religion.
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