No matter how hard we try, we cannot avoid stress or prevent suffering; it’s part of being human. But with a few tools and a proactive mindset, we can build resilience toward life’s setbacks—and even grow stronger from adversity.
Building resilience isn’t necessarily about “toughing it out” so much as it is about tapping into your spirit. Spiritual energy runs through our veins; it’s the life force that sustains us during hardship and lights us up on the other side of it.
There exists a powerful structure of spiritual energy centers throughout our bodies called chakras. The word chakra comes from Sanskrit, an ancient language of India, and is commonly referred to in the practices of yoga and meditation.
Paramhansa Yogananda, the great yogi who brought yoga to the west in the 1920s, teaches us that there are eight aspects of God: peace, wisdom, power, love, calmness, sound, light, and joy (or bliss). When we marry these aspects with the seven primary chakras, we have a set of tools, a roadmap, to navigate our lives.
The primary chakras run along the spine, starting at the bottom, at the coccyx, and ending at the crown of head. The sixth chakra has two points: its negative pole is located at the lower back of the skull and its positive counterpoint resides at the point between the eyebrows.
Starting with the first chakra and going all the way up to the seventh, the aspects align like this: Chakra 1: the root chakra: peace,
Chakra 2: the sacral chakra: wisdom,
Chakra 3: the navel chakra: power,
Chakra 4: the heart chakra: love,
Chakra 5: the throat chakra: calmness,
Chakra 6: the third eye chakra: light (as in seeing the light) and sound, and,
Chakra 7: the crown chakra: bliss.
There are thousands of other chakras, but when we learn to work with the seven primary ones, the rest vibrate to the healthier frequencies of the primary seven through the act of entrainment. In my book, The Eight Aspects of God, A Pathway to Bliss, I share more about each chakra’s location in the body along with what limits its functionality and ideas on how to get the energy flowing again. When our energy is free-flowing, our whole body hums along like a well-tuned car.
Whether you know anything about the chakras or not, working to bring these eight aspects into your life, you’ll experience greater health and happiness because, like maintaining your car by adding necessary fluids to resist wear and tear, tending to your energy centers (by inviting the God aspects into your life) automatically makes you more resistant to stress. When you absorb less stress, you feel good. When you feel good, you’re not only more resilient to adversity, you’re clear-headed and better positioned to make decisions that will propel your life forward.
Guided Visualization: Integrating the God Aspects with Your Energy Body
Proper breathing is the secret to managing stress. Before we get into a meditation practice, let’s check your breathing. Place a hand on your belly. Breathe normally. If your belly is drawing in on the inhale, you’re missing the benefits of proper breathing. To correct this, expand your belly and ribcage out (to the sides, front and back) as you inhale. On the exhale, bring your belly in.
Got it? If so, let’s practice.
Get comfortable. Take a few breaths. Let the outer edges of your body release tension as you exhale. Allow any worries to float away, just for now, put them aside. Relax your face, your throat, your neck. Release the tongue from the roof of your mouth.
Next, focus on lengthening your exhale. Lengthening your exhale makes the next inhalation deeper and also automatically relaxes the nervous system and calms you down. When you think you’ve exhaled completely, push your breath out a little more by drawing your navel back toward your spine. Repeat ten times.
Now, imagine your breath is moving up your spine on the inhale, down on the exhale. Imagine your breath as energy, flowing up and down your spine. Repeat ten times.
Next, call upon one of the aspects, such as peace. On the inhale, mentally affirm, “I am.” Then, exhale with, “Peace.” Practice for as long as it feels good. Then sit in silence and contemplate the aftereffects. What thoughts or feelings surfaced?
Life’s storms are inevitable. But having resilience allows you not only to survive the storms but to thrive in their aftermath. Being resilient, you are like the old growth tree: poised and calm, bending as the dark storms blow on through. And although a bit more weathered once the storm has passed, like the tree you are awake and ready to meet the rising sun.
*Note: this piece was originally posted as an excerpt from a column I wrote for Contemplative Journal, November 2016.