Exploring how Silence and the Contemplative Way infuse into our ordinary everyday active lives, how Awareness manifests itself, and how we respond to the call to surrender to the divinity within.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Beyond Resilience




Each life is a mystery that is never finally available to the mind's light or questions. That we are here is a huge affirmation; somehow life needed us and wanted us to be.
John O'Donohue



What we can miss most at times of turmoil is Rest, the ability to move through our daily activities with the often unappreciated comforts of familiarity and knowingness. Turmoil introduces change, doubts, insecurities, frustrations, and an unknowingness of what new direction will unfold.

At times we overreact. We grade the level of turmoil as being higher than it actually is. Even a small trigger can catch us believing for a time something hugely significant is happening. At other times, we are shocked how wide the ripples and how deep the implications of change which are thrust upon us.

I always felt resilience was one of the most enviable of human qualities, found more in some people than others. Resilience and adaptability help shorten the adjustment time in periods of change. This bounce-back-ability is often seen to be at its peak in children. They may cry in pain after a fall or a falling-out with a sibling or friend, and then quickly recover and begin a new game together. The compulsion for fun and the enjoyment of the moment or the game, or the company of their buddy, by far overrides any pain they can now hardly even remember. It seems at some point, the felt pains stack up, even for children, and a subtle strategy to avoid pain begins, and can last a lifetime if left unchallenged.

Even for those lucky adults who have a high level of resilience, there are many times when they too find themselves at a loss and struggle to adjust to what life is presenting. Grief, illness, relationships, home life, work, finances, and funnily enough, even the weather can severely affect our equilibrium. We need time to come back to Resting. (See Be Yourself Post)

I knew I was hearing Truth when I realised Contemplation concerned not so much a quick-fix solution or a dogma, as a re-directing inwards of my attention and focus. It invites the fullness and impossibility of a situation to exist, and with it, the full vulnerability of Unknowing. In time, we gain tolerance for this vulnerability and this Unknowing, and a wonder at the harmony with which each new situation becomes resolved, too often in spite of us. This takes us beyond resilience.



One of the strange laws of the contemplative life is that in it you do not sit down and solve problems: you bear with them until they somehow solve themselves. Or until life itself solves them for you. Usually the solution consists in a discovery that they only existed insofar as they were inseparably connected with your own illusory exterior self. The solution of most such problems comes with the dissolution of this false self.
 Thomas Merton