Mental Resilience to Respond to the Unexpected Darkness in our Lives

As you have probably already experienced, life has its ups and downs.

Recently, I have been enjoying the “ups” so deeply, that I had nearly forgotten about the consequences attached to being alive during a health crisis. I had been trusting my immune system, perhaps too much, and I had been living as if I were unbeatable by anything, neither the gloomy weather of the winters in Scotland nor the coronavirus.

But suddenly, things started to look unpleasant, again. After spending a joyful Christmas Day with my friends from London, the “British strain” had started to emerge, so my subsequent travel plans of spending New Years in Sweden got canceled. The only feasible option available for me, therefore, was to return to my home country, Spain.

I will omit the boring bureaucratic process that returning home entailed (PCR test, and so on), and will jump straight to the point in which I surprise my family, showing up randomly on the 28th of December or “The Fools Day” in Spain. Everything was great, I had the sunshine, the fresh breeze from the Mediterranean Sea, the delicious fruits and vegs… and even a Bikram Yoga membership to stay committed to my practice!

Then I started to feel sick. I got tested, again, just to ensure that it was not covid, and that it was safe that the family could get together on New Years’ Eve…
And yes, the test was negative. But the symptoms were there, and then, the day before having a scheduled flight to Marrakech, I received the result from the PCR test required for me to enter Morocco. “Positive” I read, as I stepped out of the yoga studio that I had been frequenting.

The day after, I cried and spent hours in bed. The day after, I was not sick anymore, so I decided to cut my hair, as the beginning of a new chapter. A chapter that was going to be highlighted by my mental resilience.

2021 is certainly pushing me to practice Acceptance and Non-Attachment, two key values that meditation has taught me. It is now, more than ever, time to put in practice everything that I have learned from a lockdown that was spent rising my consciousness. It is time now to be fully present with my family, who have been infected, too. Time to give them all my love and care. To take ownership of this chaotic start of the year. To spread my vibration around our home, and to take the opportunity to deepen our bonds.

And I couldn’t have done all of this without being mentally resilient. I couldn’t have done all of this without my spiritual practices, that my dear friend Kanishk has taught me.

Image Credit: Aine Donnellan

What it means, then, to evoke your mental resilience?
To develop a strong and healthy brain, so that you become a powerful human being, whose happiness is not dependant on all the uncontrollable external factors that are interceding in our daily lives?

Well, this is not an easy task. It involves implementing some sort of consistency and discipline through certain practices that are going to support us during our darkest times. It involves exercising our brains, just the same as we do with our bodies. Why do we spend ridiculous amounts of money on the external world, but suddenly feel so incapable of having control over our negative thoughts? We pay crazy amounts for gym memberships, we buy new clothes on a seasonal basis, we go to the hairdresser, to laser hair removal and beauty clinics, tanning centers, and so on.

Could you imagine, if we invested only a tiny portion of this energy on our mental wellbeing, instead? Picture your confident self, standing there, after having learned to overcome the unexpected. Picture your beautiful self, sitting down, practicing conscious presence and relaxing through the inner connection, and not from distraction.

Van Gough: The Red Vineyard, 1888

Trust me, life becomes easier once you start to act on the basis of love, and not fear. Life is more blissful when you understand that you are not a victim, you are simply another element aligned with the wider universal picture… “But you don’t understand, I’ve been so miserable! Especially after this crazy 2020, everything is going wrong.”

Well…  out of the 900 pieces that Van Gogh painted during his life, he only sold “Red Vineyard at Arles”. Stephen King’s first novel was rejected by thirty publishers, and Junko Tabei became the first woman to summit the Everest, despite the gender barrier existent in mountaineering.

 It is only in your hands to understand, that only if you let your status quo define your future, then you will be miserable. Like a river, life is constantly changing and evolving, and there are things that we can do to accept the course of that flow. According to Buddhist monk Gelong Thubten, happiness means mental independence, it is a choice that can be made through finding peace within our thoughts.

To put it in a practical way, once you start practicing meditation on a daily basis, your brains’ neuroplasticity changes. The amygdala is stopped from producing too much cortisol, the hormone responsible for creating stress. However, in a deeper spiritual aspect, you have the potential of becoming more peaceful. The stillness created within you can improve your mental health significantly, and the overall quality of your life. You can strengthen the bonds with yourself, and with those around you. You can shift your mindset, and choose, to be blissful.

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