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The concept of resilience has become more wide spread in the last years and is beginning to be used within leadership and team development and building resilient organizational cultures.  What is resilience and why is it relevant to our lives and our work?

Resilience, in its common usage, is our capacity to “bounce back,” to see possibilities and to stay connected.  Somatically we understand resilience as our capacity to holistically return to center – we can feel and center in the body (calm but not overriding our sensations), acknowledge and generate mood, return to purpose and a broader perspective, and create possibilities for the future.  We can connect with ourselves and others.

Research points to a number of factors that make us more resilient including; a connection to nature, animals and spirituality, creativity (art, dance, music), an ability to stay positively connected to at least one other person, imagination, and collective practices (movement, music, art) within community.*

Our capacity for resilience can be cultivated.  Like any other way of being, we can embody resilience more deeply, by making it a conscious embodied practice, rather than waiting for it to happen to us.  When was the last time you felt resilient?  Let yourself recall this experience.  When was your last experience of a centered aliveness, a sense of being part of something much greater, a feeling of wholeness with a positive imagination of the future?  For me, being in nature or wilderness is often what creates this- I feel a greater harmony, which then, re-harmonizes me.

Once you access this, you can then explore: what do I feel in my sensations and soma when I am resilient?  What quality of connection I feel?  What is my orientation toward life?  Let this consciously fill you out, as we do when centering.  How often do I practice this?  It is not only remembering the experience, but also practicing it-art, nature, spiritual practice; helping someone else; imagination; community practice.  Like anything we are looking to cultivate, we want to practice resilience regularly, with an intent, and using an embodied practice.  Feeling our own aliveness deeply, as we practice.

If I, for example, were fully in my resilience practice, I would walk in the deciduous and evergreen woods weekly (I average monthly now)- consciously letting my stress and thoughts fall away, and feeling the greater harmony of nature.  In the practice, I consciously let myself become part of that greater harmony again.  This practice re-sets me, returns me to a deeper center, creativity and wide perspective.

For leadership and teams this is easily translated.  When developing a team member, you can ask what brings them resilience.  Ask them how often they practice this, and build it into their development plan.  You can introduce your team to resilience practices, as you know more about what works for them.  Many of the teams we work with develop leadership dojos at their sites- this becomes a place for practice – centering, two-step, jo kata and meditation.  These can be used to purposefully cultivate resilience within your team.  Another team, an innovative social enterprise, takes 2 hours monthly, held by a facilitator, for resilience.  “What will have us be more resilient, given all we hold”, is their opening question.  Some times this turns into a visioning process and open discussions of purpose.  Sometimes, the team chooses a walk in nature, and once, it became into a trip to the movies.

We are inherently resilient beings.  I invite you to spend a day, noticing people’s and nature’s resilience, and see what you see.

*For more information on this research: click here.