One of the most striking qualities of the Dalai Lama is his remarkably contagious belly laugh. It’s a heavy rumble that merrily erupts from his whole body and sparkles through his eyes, delightfully interrupting his most earnest philosophical discussions. Here’s a man of immense compassion, who has endured the sorrow of countless acts of genocide toward his Tibetan people. How can he be so emotionally resilient?
Looking it up, I found that ‘resilience’ comes from the Latin verb resilire, meaning to spring back or rebound. How can we better face life’s inevitable stressors? Many traditions offer meditative techniques that help the mind to extricate itself from driving passions that can charge through our emotional nature. Rodney Yee, a well-known yoga teacher of our time, says:
There’s an eye of the hurricane and you can reside there. You want to notice that there’s quietness inside the spinning of your mind.
OK, so yoga, as it progresses from physical postures to a meditative practice, seems to be one way to find an inner stillness within emotional and psychological turbulence. I’ve read that the Dalai Lama rises quite early and begins his day with several hours of meditation.
Our tai chi teacher Jerry Punzal tells me that Zen meditation, such as a Samurai warrior would have been trained in, helps a person to gain detachment from their emotions, such as rage or grief. The greatest martial artists he has known are not only detached, they also have very deep, genuine feelings. Jerry’s own Zen and martial arts teacher could quickly go from the most joyful peals of laughter at a good joke, to a very clear, powerful scolding of a careless student, to a soft, loving greeting of an elderly woman coming to visit. Each emotion was genuinely felt, yet none took control and lingered, or blocked out other emotions as the situation changed. I would call that emotional resilience.
Emotionally mature people, in my experience, are able to deeply feel the entire range of human emotion, and not be ‘taken out’ by them. They have the confidence of knowing that they can survive strong emotions and still maintain self-awareness and make rational choices. We can move in that direction. I love what Louisa May Alcott has to say:
I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.
Local outrigger canoe paddling coach, Uncle Nappy Napoleon, always advises his paddlers:
You gotta go out wen it’s rough. If you always go out wen it’s flat, you neva learn no’ting.
Emotions are like waves. An inexperienced surfer may get caught unaware and be tumbled by even a small wave. The experienced surfer never turns their eyes away from the ocean. And when the wave comes they make a choice: paddle over it, duck-dive under it, or catch it for a glorious ride…and then paddle out to wait for the next good wave. That’s a lot like the emotional resilience I’m talking about. That’s what I want!
Resting in Stillness and Moving in Joy with you,
PS. Stay tuned to the bottom of the page for a whimsical ride.
Inspired by the model of sharing lifelong learning at the Institute of World Culture in Santa Barbara, California, and by the joy and moving meditation she experiences in the practice of Nia, Rene founded Still & Moving Center for the teaching of mindful movement arts from around the globe. May it always be filled with laughter and friendship!
Have you ever felt lost or unsure of how to take the next step? Have you ever been afraid to fail? These are feelings that may go through the minds of students from time to time. As the newly elected head of the Kahikoluamea Center at Kapiolani Community College, Krista Hiser leads students out of the darkness into clarity, light and success! The Kahikoluamea Center is the Student Success Center, designed to assist students on their “Wayfinding Odyssey.”
Krista is also a fearless leader when she teaches Nia at Still & Moving Center! As a Nia Black Belt with an athletic Nia style, Krista prompts her students to find their way off the floor, into the air. By the time they finish Krista’s class, they’re sprouting energy they never realized they had! Most of all, Krista is truly dedicated to empowering individuals and leading by example just how to move from the heart.
Cocoa is credited with an impressive array of health benefits: reducing the instance of blood clots, lowering blood pressure, and helping prevent cancer. It’s the most anti-oxidant rich food there is, far exceeding any super-berries!
When choosing to eat chocolate for health benefits, it’s ultimately the cocoa content that matters: the higher – the better. Dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa will be far healthier in fighting disease than milk chocolate, in which the fat and sugar outweigh the health benefits of the cocoa.
Here are some local Hawaii grown bean-to-bar chocolates. How about taking your Valentine to a local chocolate tasting room?!?
Healthy Life Tip
Add emotion to your exercise!
My experience: In Nia we can try on various emotions as we move to different pieces of music, just as we would try on different styles of clothing to see how they fit a particular occasion. We can move between acting as if we are fearful, or curious or delighted. Nia lists 5 qualities of of a good physical workout: flexibility, agility, mobility, strength and stability. I suggest that those same qualities are also the basis of a good emotional workout that leads to emotional resilience. When I dance, like 5Rhythms / Sweat Your Prayers / Ecstatic dancers, I deliberately allow myself to respond emotionally to the moods of all sorts of music. I feel as if I’m in much greater my emotional “tone” as a result.
What you can do: When you exercise, deliberately allow yourself to feel whatever emotion is running through you at the time and let it move through your body. Sometimes we have a strong emotion pushing us out the door to go work out. On those days we can emote that energy of frustration – or whatever – for a while until we want to transform it into another more positive emotion.
Sometimes we don’t really know how we feel. Music easily stimulates
I think this is funny
emotion. So exercise to music – whether dancing, swimming, running, paddling, doing calisthenics or whatever – and let yourself cry, laugh, growl or shout. NOW try changing your emotion. Feelproud and sense what happens in your chest. Feel depressed and sense your shoulders. Feel excited and sense your eyebrows. Then let it all go and just resume your exercise practice.
Recipe for a Healthy Valentine Treat!
1 ripe avocado
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup raw sugar / maple syrup
1/4 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Peel and quarter a ripe avocado.
Put all the ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth.
Serve and enjoy!
Everyone’s body has different and changing needs in terms of nutrition. I personally do not believe that there is any one universal diet that is right for everyone. Food that may be healthy for one body may not necessarily meet the needs of the moment for someone else’s body. If one of these recipes sounds good to your body as you read it, give it a try.
Recipes presented here are at least intended to use fresh, hopefully local, non GMO, organic foods, that will be easy on the Earth and hopefully tasty and of benefit to many bodies. Some will be vegan, some may be ovo-lacto vegetarian. Some will be raw, some will acknowledge a benefit of cooking certain foods.
Readers with bodies that crave dairy, eggs, fish or meat are hopefully recognizing the life sacrifice of the animals who are providing that meal. In my view, we can add to the forward evolution of all the life-atoms that pass through our bodies. How do we do that? By consuming any food that we put into our mouths with gratitude, taking time to appreciate its flavor, its nutrition, its color, the hands that grew and prepared it, and the living force – animal or vegetable – within it.
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This post is also available in: 日本語 (Japanese)