My own resilience benefits from spiritual roots, but it’s a topic I rarely speak about. It seems that many people are averse to the idea of a spiritual dimension in life, so this blog feels like a risky experiment in describing what spiritual resilience means to me.
To give some context, my spiritual path has been evolving for over 40 years, and feels like a personal tapestry, woven from many traditions, especially the Christian, Sufi and Buddhist. Only in 2001 did I start leading retreats and workshops with an explicitly spiritual flavour. Since 2011, I have facilitated a dozen groups on spiritual resilience, with such titles as ‘Inner Peace in a Changing World’: it is on these recent groups that this blog is based. It’s impractical to convey the rich delights of a group journey through this material in a short blog, so I will simply focus on ways that a spiritual dimension can add to regular personal resilience approaches:
Divine Unity: Many Middle Eastern traditions use variants of the same word, Alaha, to describe sacred unity. In the desert, it is easier to see humanity as just one part of a universe which is all divine.
Creation spirituality: this is the idea that creation is not a historical event, but an ongoing process, and our role as humans is to embody divine qualities and contribute to the ongoing process. For more on this, see the Thomas Berry book review.
Changing the Story: The need for a new story to realign humanity’s relation with the planet is much discussed currently, and links to the need for each individual to find a new story which takes us beyond material hedonism. This can be helped by sensing our personal link with divine unity, a personal role in creation, and seeing the whole natural world, including humanity, as a single divine entity which needs re-creating. Again, see Thomas Berry for more.
The Three Jewels: this is the Buddhist concept of three key parts to a spiritual path: the Buddha (all the enlightened teachers), the Dharma (the teachings, and how we embody them in daily life and work), and the Sangha (the community of mutual support for this journey). All three elements reinforce each other.
Gratitude and celebration: what the spiritual dimension can add to these qualities is the sense of expressing them to divine unity, to the creating power in all life, including ourselves. The groups I lead draw on teachings from several spiritual positions, and are offered for people to use or not as they wish, so there is no evangelistic edge. Given a safe space to experience these approaches, people taking part in these groups get a lot from them.
How to bring these qualities into more mainstream groups remains an open question, which I would welcome your views and experience.