Resilience, A Healthy Response to Change

Resilience-Lura-ShopteauCharles Darwin once said that it is not the strongest of the species that will survive, rather it is the species that learns to adapt and change that will thrive. And as Nature tends to do, I received this valuable lesson, served right to my doorstep.

The home I live in was blessed to sit under one of the largest trees in the area. It was the kind of tree that is a complete eco system of its own, both above and below ground. A tree that stops people in their tracks, who look at its size and beauty, wide-eyed, while it stands tall and proudly reaches for the sky. While away from home, there was a severe storm and the tree toppled over during the night. Luckily, it missed the house. Yet, as it laid out across the yard, broken into many pieces, severed from its root system, there was a sense of sorrow that filled the air. The surrounding Nature had fallen silent. The hundreds of birds, dozens of varieties, that called this tree home, no longer sang their beautiful melodies from the branches above. I was sure they had simply flown away, never to return. I did not stop to think about the shock and trauma the birds must have experienced, having lost their nests in the middle of the night, in the middle of a storm nonetheless. However, I was much too quick in my assumption. The birds in fact were under stress, perhaps their silence was a way of mourning their loss. Being surrounded by many other trees, the area itself is healthy and productive. And so, after four long days of silence, to my delight, the cacophony of songs I love so much began once more. I then realized, the birds were all still there. They had been too shaken and confused to reset-tle immediately, they simply needed time to readjust and adapt once more. I realized then, that the birds demonstrated what is known as resilience.

jungle-costa-ricaResilience is the ability to manage what is out of balance. In Nature, and in humans, it is the ability to adapt, to cope, to adjust, and to change as needed when faced with adversity. Humans, like Nature, need to be able to adapt to difficult situations to survive and prosper in our modern world, where change is the only constant. Within the world of Health Services, there is a new way to assess the overall health of an individual. It is based upon one’s ability to respond with resilience, this includes responding with self-esteem, optimism and social connectedness. When we are healthy, we can overcome situations of difficulty and thrive in astonishing ways. We can withstand hardship and loss, we may need time, yet through creativity, intelligence, flexibility, and cooperation, we can respond to difficulties in a healthy and positive way. For Nature it is the same as for us, and living in Costa Rica, as rain sometimes pours down and changes the landscape overnight, we experience and see first hand how Nature deals with adversity. Nature is resilient, and how we accommodate to the waves that come at us is an example of our overall health, it is an example of our resilience. The ability to float, to stay on the surface, rather than be pounded under the waves of life highlights our positive adaptation to handling stress. We can set up our lives to ensure we take care of our selves, to work on our self-esteem, our optimism, and our social connectedness. Thus ensuring that we too demonstrate resilience.

“A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor.”

About the Writer Lura Shopteau

Lura-ShopteauLiving the holistic Costa Rican life style and sharing it professionally, Lura is an expert in integrative health as a professional psychotherapist, medita-tion, yoga teacher and yoga therapist. She has taught and consulted in Mindfulness and Yoga Therapy at Omega Institute, the Mayo Clinic, and the University of Minnesota Medical School. She now educates individuals and teachers at Bienestar, Uvita Yoga Shala (