1 January 2020 – 31 December 2029
Exploring the outer-reaches and far corners of this decade**
“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all.”– Emily Dickinson
As we enter a new decade full of mystery, unexpected change, uncertainty and unknown challenges, we tend to become stuck in our maladaptive coping habits. We easily become busy and distracted. We ‘fake it till we make it’, instead of ‘face it till we make it’. We tend to live in avoiding-autopilot rather than becoming aware of the hope and resilience we daily receive.
The poem “Hope Is the Thing with Feathers”, written by Emily Dickinson in 1862, transforms hope into a bird that is ever present in the human soul. It sings, especially when times get tough. If we allow ourselves to become quiet enough amid our loud and busy days, we may experience and share this song so much easier during pleasant and unpleasant times. Then, although we still find ourselves sometimes lost and overwhelmed, we can get back on our feet so much sooner.
Resilience refers to the ability to remain determined and maintain positive affect and well-being despite failures and setbacks. The Japanese proverb “Nanakorobi yaoki” describes this well: “fall seven times, stand up eight”. When we become resilient, we adapt and make allowance for moments of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress.
Daniel Siegel (2007) taught that mindfulness practice is scientifically proven to develop a long-term state of resilience by enhancing physical, mental and social well-being (2007).
Being resilient does not mean that we don’t experience difficulty. It rather refers to becoming aware of our emotional pain, fear and sadness non-judgmentally, with a kind curiosity. Research suggests that feelings can’t be changed by (positive) thinking, but only by awareness and regulation of feelings.
Emotions are possibly your greatest source of instincts, intelligence, and energy. All emotions contain genius, and our emotions are crucial for thinking, learning and understanding others. Therefore, it becomes crucial to practice daily leaning into feelings, by means of mindfulness.
Mindfulness takes us out of automatic doing-mode, so we can practice better hope and resilience by means of self- and other-compassion, connection with loved ones, awareness and regulation of our feelings, focus on in-the-moment planning and problem-solving, healthy self-care and acceptance of life as it is.
The practice of being fully present is a way to reclaim hope and resilience. It is a personal journey for all of us. By leaning into how you are feeling both physically and mentally, you can connect and accept life as it is, moment by moment.
Here at the Free State Institute for Mindfulness, and at our online learning platform, 360smartly.com, we don’t aim to generate mindfulness teachers. Our intention is to remind ourselves and our fellow human-beings in moments of uncertainty and change, that mindfulness belongs to everyone.
We were all born being capable of being aware in-the-moment, with a kind curiosity… whether we are drinking coffee, talking to loved ones, or facing a challenging moment. As we learn to embrace our pleasant and unpleasant feelings, the thoughts and bodily sensations they generate, we progress inch by inch on our journey with joy, hope and resilience.
In this decade we aim to remind ourselves and our fellow human beings to develop these affective intentions so clearly and purposefully that they overshadow any other intention or goal (especially materialistic ones) that we may have, and that all we do arise in the first place from and touch on our mindful being. It is in this manner that we will truly stay in control in moments of extensive change (when animal and plant species march, the climate becomes unpredictable, and water becomes either too scarce or too much) and overcome, and not fail in the face of challenges we will face.
“Human beings are remarkable resilient creatures. We are copers and problem solvers. We cope through sheer determination, through our creativity and imagination, through prayer and religious beliefs, through involvements and diversions that feed our need for purpose,meaning, joy, and belonging, and for stepping outside ourselves and caring for others. We cope and are buoyed up by our own tenacious love for life, and by receiving love, encouragement, and support from our family, our friends and our larger community”. – Jon Kabat-Zinn
**When we think (now in January 2020) of our immediate future in the light of the destruction wrought by Australian fires, the uncertainty of climate change and the inability of world leaders to grapple with this, it helps to think in terms of a decade.
It also helps to assign a definitive commitment, vision and strategy of Hope and Resilience to this decade.
Then we feel more comfortable exploring the journey to 2029 and the outer-reaches and far corners of the decade.
Hope and resilience will bring us there.
Take up this guiding light, take our hands, and walk with us all the way to December 2029 and beyond.
Dirk Joubert (040835720) & Mariki Smith (0832884393)
The Free State Institute of Mindfulness team.