Ever since we moved to Atlanta, I had been hibernating, not wanting to go out and meet people or do things. I think I just needed some time to get used to my new surroundings. It’s only been in the last week or so that I feel ready to step out of my cocoon and engage in the world again.
I came across an event series called “Mindful Mornings: Atlanta” and I was intrigued. In Raleigh, there was a monthly speaker series called “Creative Mornings,” where artists and other creatives would come speak about their work, and the creation process. I had always meant to get to a Creative Mornings, but I could never seem to make it work. When I saw that there was a “Mindful Mornings,” I couldn’t say no. A speaker series where wellness and mindfulness is the main topic? I am so in!
So I went! I finally left the nest and explored our new home. The event took place at a restaurant called Sama, and I have definitely found my new favorite place. It’s a fast-casual/coffee shop type of place where you order at the bar and they bring it to you. The menu was amazing, and right up my alley: they had mushroom mylk lattes with chaga and reishi, and superfood smoothies with maca and ashwaganda. The space itself is totally instagrammable, with white and light and millennial pink. Like I said, my new favorite : )
Mindful Mornings: Atlanta was definitely unlike what I was expecting. Based on my experience with Creative Mornings, I thought it would be a speaker series mixed with socialization. What we actually ended up doing was a guided mediation on resilience, and then a roundtable discussion of our understanding and experience of resilience. I felt like I was one of the few people in the room who didn’t have a daily meditation practice, and it took a lot of strength not to giggle due to nerves.
The meditation itself (15 minutes) was interesting, and went by quicker than I expected, and felt faster than when I’ve tried to meditate by myself just sitting quietly. Being guided in how to access your emotions and feelings is really helpful, and if you are new to meditation like I am, I think starting with guided meditation is the way to go.
The part I really enjoyed was the discussion about resilience afterward. There were four major themes that came up in the discussion as to what comprises resilience, and I thought it was worth reflecting on here:
Resilience is trust.
- Resilience, at its core, is the ability to come back from difficulties or troubles. But what makes us able to bounce back? One of the things that give us resilience is trust. Our ability to trust God, trust ourselves, trust others, and trust the universe helps us keep going. Trust requires relying on something we are not even sure about in the first place, but when you trust your well-being increases.
Resilience is faith
- Faith is another component of what makes up resilience. Faith and trust are deeply intertwined, because both rely on you giving up power, letting go, and not trying to control every aspect. Trust and faith require a willingness to accept vulnerability.
Resilience is perseverance
- Resilience is really a retrospective description. You don’t know if someone is resilient until after the trauma, after the hurt, after the bad thing that happened. When you are in the middle of it all, perseverance is what gets you to the other side. Just keeping on, even in the midst of sadness or chaos, is critical for resilience.
But resilience does not mean that someone is happy all the time, nor does resilience mean that a person does not have or recognize any distress in their lives. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Turning towards negative emotions, and not being judgmental or fearful of negative emotions, but being able to quietly observe and acknowledge negative emotions is key in resilience. One of the women at Mindful Mornings taught resilience, and she always went back to a quote from Buddha in her lessons. The story goes that he said, “Resilience is inviting your suffering in for tea.” That image truly encompasses being at ease with negative emotions. You are not inviting your hurt to move in, set up camp, and take over the grocery shopping, but you are acknowledging the presence of your pain and not simply ignoring it.
Turning towards negative emotions is something I have always struggled with. I hate fighting, and my natural inclination is to avoid confrontation, pretty much at all costs. I can barely let a negative thought be expressed before trying to come up with an action plan to resolve it. But recently I’ve been trying to work on turning towards negative emotions, and not immediately trying to change them or silence them, or even fix them, but just observing. It’s something that requires conscious effort for me. I read an article that talked about asking “what” instead of “why” when dealing with negative emotions, to be more observant. So instead of saying something like “why am I so irritated today?” you ask “what has happened today that has irritated me?” so you can start the process reflecting rather than trying to diagnose or problem solve.
I really appreciated my experience at Mindful Mornings, because it gave me the opportunity to reflect on something I tend to avoid. What do you think are the keys to resilience?