Reflections on Resilience

stop, drop and breathe!

Have you ever noticed that there seems to be a common reaction to moments of sudden increased tension, unexpected news, or times when we’re nervous, frightened or otherwise overwhelmed?  We hold our breath.   You might recognize that you tend to hold your breath in the following situations: ~ a car stops suddenly in front of yours and you must break hard to avoid a collision ~ you hear that someone close to you has experienced a devastating loss ~ as a joke, someone jumps out at your from around a corner to “scare” you ~ you’re performing a physically ...
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mind clutter

Somewhere along the bumpy evolutionary path,  we have became chronic over-consumers and collectors.  It is absolutely no surprise then that ‘clutter happens’.  And more clutter means more to manage. Now as the cooler days and crisper nights have us now reaching for sweaters, socks and fleece blankets, ’tis the season to pack up and put away the collected odds and sods of summer living.  And even though we’ll miss the carefree feeling of sun-dresses and flip-flops, there is something so refreshing about marking the change of seasons with a ritual of storing away the old and bringing out new-to-this-year items ...
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that’s why it’s called practice

  There are days that my practice happens on a yoga mat. Some days it exists on a meditation cushion. Some days it is simply moments of listening actively to another person who is standing right in front of me.   But every single minute of every single day, my practice is to see what is in front of me without passing declarative judgment. To see, notice, accept then make choices based on the reality of the situation, not on my judgment of what is in front of me.   This “resist the urge to judge” practice has been severely ...
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performance anxiety

Testing, testing! In my role as an educator, it is most certainly during test-taking situations that student anxiety increases to distracting and limiting levels. Blocked by adrenaline power surges inappropriate for the situation and streaming negative self-talk, it is no wonder students are unable to effectively show what they know. But students in academic assessment situations are not the only ones who experience a nervousness that impairs performance. An important job interview. Presenting a cutting-edge proposal.  Initiating a difficult conversation. Speaking in public. Even going on a first date!  A little adrenaline goes a long way but too much can ...
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want not, get not

Deep down to your very core, what is it that you truly desire? Peace and solitude? Fame and fortune? Love and acceptance? Fun and distraction? Freedom from any pain or discomfort? Competence and efficiency? Knowing you are warmly valued by another? To make a difference in your world? Appreciation for what you produce and share? Camaraderie and affection? Acceptance of what “is”? All of the above? Do you even know?  Are you willing to do a few experiments to find out?     Experiment #1: Grab a friend. Sit across from each other. Breathe deeply and set the intention to ...
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medication/meditation

  Medication? The casual statement over dinner was not tossed into the centre of the table as a controversial conversation starter. To the one saying the words, it was a matter of fact and as practical as leftovers. “There’s no way we are meant to make it through this life without self-medicating.” Resistance bubbled up from somewhere deep inside of me. Wait! That can’t be right. Can it? And what does she mean by ‘self-medicating”? Does she think, like me, that self-medicating refers to anything that significantly distracts or numbs us to the way things really are? To take the ...
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a mindful student’s guide to managing stress

Mid-term mania is sweeping through high school hallways like a mid-autumn tropical storm. Research shows that the adolescent brain is not quite done ‘baking’ yet and is very much still in the developmental stage, so teens cope with stress much differently than adults.  Add an over-commitment to activities in and out of the classroom, teacher and parental expectations for consistently self-regulated behaviour and the increasing pressure on teens to figure out their future plans and you’ve got the makings of the perfect storm. Fear not, oh overwhelmed adolescent!   Not only does it get better as you get older, there ...
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ideal conditions

ideal february   It was unseasonably warm. A clear sky gently sheltered a light dusting of snow on a path in a secluded wooded area. Under these ideal conditions, a fellow introvert and I dressed lightly and put on our cross-country skis to enjoy the solitude, together. It seemed as if nothing could make the experience any better. Gratitude was abundant. Relating to each other was easy and the mood was light and carefree.   a less than ideal february   Two weeks later on a different ski trail, in a distant place, the conditions were much less than ideal. ...
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withholding judgment (revisited)

  In a small exam room, I was overseeing a group of students who, due to any number of physical or cognitive challenges, were being assessed in a smaller, quieter space away from the large auditorium of exam writers. Some of the student behaviour I witnessed was completely expected and predictable for this demographic of students.  Forgetting pencils, rulers and calculators. Despite reminders, forgetting to turn off their phones, or not taking hats and jackets off.  Forgetting that they were not to view their exam before formal instructions were given to do so. All of these instances occurred even though ...
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withholding judgment

here comes the judge This is, by far, the most challenging part of my practice, currently. And my life.  Since forever. My reaction is often swift, heavy-handed and, in my own distorted mind, is completely justified because it is based solely on principle. The principle according to me.   i had hoped practice would help My yoga/ meditation practice shines a glaring light on this ingrained, reactionary habit. When I sit, the judgments come. When I don’t sit, they also come. When I label my thoughts, the judgments come. When I watch my breath…well, you get it. Then when I ...
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