Movement and Meditation


Talking about resilience can be tricky: It’s so much better when centered in the resilient others that one has observed and admires and then applied to oneself than it is as prescription for those who are suffering, which can devolve into a punishing message of social and emotional bootstrap pulling or a fake-smiling positivity. I think that we (individuals, communities, countries) have the moral responsibility to try to create contexts for each other and the earth that actually require less resilience of individual creatures—humans and other living beings—and specific ecosystems, that we try to create contexts that nurture growth and eliminate destructive conditions. This creation of nurturing contexts requires protecting the most vulnerable and devoting significant resources to their development.
On a six-mile walk this week on a sidewalk along a relatively new road that cuts four lanes through former ranch land, on the edge between a bulldozed field being prepared for the construction of a new school and the barbed wire fencing that formerly served to contain cattle, I saw a small outcropping of sunflowers, their green bodies reaching toward the sky, their brown and yellow faces turning toward the light. The wind was howling from the south that day, plastering my clothes against my body, sending my hair straight back from my head, and forcing the slender stems of the sunflowers toward the wires and the bare dirt. Despite temperatures nearing 100 degrees and the effects of a Stage 1 drought in Austin—our weather this spring is “eerily similar” to that of 2011, when Austin experienced a summer of severe, record-breaking heat wave and drought—in addition to the high-velocity wind and the wider dislocation of the flora in the area, the sunflowers persisted. Since February, sunflowers will forever remind me of Ukraine and of the examples we’ve witnessed since it was invaded of individuals’ and national courage and conviction; they remind me now also of Uvalde. And the nevertheless persistence—the resilience—of those few plants along my walk this week also symbolize what may be possible for me, perhaps for you, in the face of accumulating adversity, of a spinning center that feels as though it cannot hold.
A ritual that I use that enables me to find the center, plant my roots, unfurl my leaves and flowers, and seek the light is resonant breathing (as I detailed in the Walking and Breathing post on March 11): I kneel on the floor with my meditation cushion supporting my seat, close my eyes, and focus on resonantly breathing for 12 minutes, on releasing rumination, after which I’m further strengthened in taking on what I must, what I may.