I was watching an interview with the former LA Laker's head coach, Phil Jackson the other day. He explained how he has used yoga and meditation to help prepare his teams for high performance during their basketball games. He went on to explain how being in the "game" can be stressful for the players. They are often dealing with the pressure and stress of high performance demands, injuries, public media attention, and the risk of being traded or without a contract if they don't do well. It's the side of sports that, as fans, we don't necessarily always consider. It's a high stress job with a great risk of personal injury that could totally alter a person's life path. He explained that meditation can help them to think more clearly and stay present with the task at hand. It was fascinating to learn about another arena of stress, where meditation can have a big impact. I can't say I've ever thought of sports team in quite this light, but when your life, livelihood, and family are depending on your success it's easy to fall victim to injury, stress, and the many demons we often hear about in the media.
Often times, I've heard police officers, firefighters, and soldiers say that they don't know who they are without their badge, their patch, or their fellow men and women in uniform. At some point in each of their careers, there is the anxiety of separation from the protective pod that each of them finds themselves in when they chose their profession. It can be like that for these sports teams too. They become a brotherhood or a sisterhood and even if there are injustices that they feel and face throughout their time, there is safety to one degree or another inside a group of like-minded people who have the same kinds of experiences.
What happens when a soldier exits the military and is unsure of his future as a civilian? What about military personnel getting out of the service who need to find a job in the civilian workforce? What happens when a police officer retires or leaves the police force to live like a regular citizen in his community? What about a firefighter who no longer waits for calls during the night to run off to help his buddies fight the next fire? What happens when a soldier or Marine trains with their unit and gets injured right before deployment and are left behind? These are traumatic separations from their team.
The mind does not just automatically say, "I'm separate from that." It continues to feel, wait, and wonder what it can be doing and what the rest of the team is doing.
It's like a wolf being separated from its' pack. There is potential for depression, loneliness, separation, anxiety, sleeplessness, guilt, shame, lack of tolerance, anger, resentment, and a myriad of other emotional, physical, and mental symptoms that come along with separation from what you devoted your lives to and the people who understood, without words, what life was like for you everyday.
Building tools to help you manage these transitions is the key to being successful within the group and outside of the group. As each one of you develops these tools, you stand as a beacon for others to do the same. It's a matter of creating a brotherhood and sisterhood of those who are resilient and can show each other the way to live a life that you are so deserving of living. Meditation can be one of the tools that you use to help prepare you for such changes, helping you to be aware, present, and ready.
Developing resiliency can help a person to navigate these changes or instances of separation. Resiliency isn't about preventing stress. It's about managing it and being able to effectively handle the effects of it. Resilient people seem to just "bounce back". Sometimes it's easy to view them as having some kind of superhuman ability or maybe they can just "brush" things off, but it's not about any of that. Resilience is about honoring what you've been through, honoring where you currently at, having a daily routine of listening to your body, your mind, and your emotions, and learning ways to keep things in balance. You can't stop stressors from occurring, but how you respond to them and how you choose to handle them can be changed. It isn't something that is reserved for a chosen few. Resiliency is something that can be developed in all of us with some practice.
*images: Google Images