I was walking through the grocery store this week and had one of those moments of awe, looking at everyone with masks on doing their shopping, at how we have adjusted to this way of living for now. It is amazing what we have come through and yet, it is so easy to not see what we have managed.
Often in my A Mindful Life groups and workshops I will have us do an exercise that asks us to reflect on what has already gone on in a day/week/season/year. These exercises seem like the antithesis of mindfulness meditation which asks us to stay in the present moment. But, there’s a purpose to these specific tasks of reflection - it’s not just ruminating or rehashing. We can so easily roll through our accomplishments, events, small and major moments, and move onto the next without pausing to realize - wow, I actually got tenure, or I opened a business, or I survived a critical moment, or I moved somewhere and started a new path, or I received all that goodness! The very thing we were moving toward arrives and when we get there, out of fear of what’s next, we often don’t stop long enough to savor it. The problem with this is that we never feel full because we haven’t taken in what we have done, what we have received, where we have landed, what goodness has already arrived.
The same is true not just of what we have done and what we have received, but also of our resilience. Resilience is only useful when we recognize that we have been resilient. And we weren’t just resilient once, but many times. In fact, every day we are resilient. But we need to acknowledge where we have been to be able to see how we have grown.
I invite us all, right now, to take such a moment. Think back to March when this pandemic hit and lockdown took hold. Think of the fear, the unknown, the uncertainty we all faced. We listened to the news of death tolls rising. We watched our kids struggle with roughly orchestrated online schooling and we struggled with them in our homes. We didn’t get haircuts or go to the dentist; our businesses closed (temporarily or permanently); we struggled to figure out the best way to get groceries; we saw empty shelves of toilet paper and soap. We went on unemployment, applied for PPP loans, and we figured out how to work just as efficiently online. We did amazing things. We got creative and resourceful; we supported others; we meditated more; we walked more and dogs were - oh so happy! We found new ways. And though it is not over yet, we could do the kind and generous thing - we could, in this moment, stop and take in how resilient we have been. And maybe, with a bow of gratitude, we can acknowledge that, “yes, we pulled through.” We are no longer in the same place. Everything changes.
There are more trials to come, but for right now, why not take a moment, even just a few minutes to rest, truly rest, in your own strength, power, and resilience. Look at what you have done. I invite you to make a list of all that you went through since March. All that you made possible since then, all the obstacles overcome, and all the connections, joys, possibilities you discovered. This is no small thing. You have grown. Like the flower growing through the concrete. If you are an artist, you can draw/paint it all out on one big piece of paper.
Now you can use this. The next time you notice a wave of anxiety about the future, you might call up this resilience and realize there is more in you. You’re not just resilient, but you have grown and are stronger from this past wave. You have it inside you to meet whatever challenge comes next.
P.S. This is the kind of work we do regularly in A Mindful Life. Click the link to find out more.