‘Our pain for the world, including the fear, anger and sorrow we feel on behalf of life on Earth is not only pervasive. It is natural and healthy. It is dysfunctional only to the extent that it is misunderstood and repressed.’ – Joanna Macy
Resilience begins at home – within your internal sense of home and the external world, the home you inhabit. Once you understand this, you have taken the first step towards creating it. And doing this, you foster a sacred space. A structure if you like, where it is safe to feel and express the pain of the world knowing full well, this is a crucial step towards healing it.
A resilient sense of home is not reliant on anything external. Rather than requiring a structure that can be taken away or damaged by forces outside of yourself, it is an internal process of knowing one’s self and being in touch with one’s heart. It is essentially the art of being at home, in the present moment. Which is not to say you necessarily have to delight in what you find there, even this is not dependent on a set of conditions. Rather, as teacher of Vipassanā meditation S.N. Goenka says it is about being ‘aware and equanimous’. Aware of what is happening around you, the circumstances you may find yourself in. Whilst at the same time centred or anchored in your own heart, knowing and trusting that change is a natural part of the seasons of life. In this way, resilience becomes a way of living rather than just a concept.
In terms of our physical dwellings and homes, you only have to glance back over the last Summer to see how quickly true threat can arrive and how diverse it can be. From fire to floods, many in this region have been recently affected by disaster. You don’t have to go far to find someone who was displaced and who’s daily life was disrupted. Some significantly and for extended periods. Many of whom are most likely only now, as the shock and denial starts diminishing, beginning to come to terms with and process their experience.
Traditionally home is seen as a place of safety and refuge. So how do we create resilience in our physical homes and world when disruption is almost the new norm? Greg Braddon says ‘We must learn to become resilient to the world we’ve created’.
In his book ‘Resilience from the Heart: The power to Thrive in Life’s Extreme’s’ he explains that people have different thresholds of what they feel they can and can’t live without (in the short and long term) and that this becomes especially true when challenged and caught off guard by unexpected events.
He suggests that understanding and determining your personal needs and thresholds will point you in the direction of what resilience means to you in extreme times. It will provide a framework to assist your family and provide a sense of normalcy if faced with adversity.
In essence I see this as taking the concept of a bushfire survival plan to another level. It’s adding in your or your family’s personal requirements for feeling safe and secure, emotionally. It might be as simple as knowing if you must evacuate, you will take a special blanket with you that has always wrapped around your children at night providing them with comfort. This connection to memories of good times at home, can support and shelter you through unfamiliar territory and difficult times.
In a physical sense, resilience at home comes from knowing we are in challenging times and from being as prepared as possible for the unexpected. It’s factoring in how to create a sense of safety and home no matter where or what circumstances you find yourself in. Here is hoping that you never have to implement or face any of this. But if you do, you’ll certainly be glad you gave it some prior thought.
One of the greatest challenges and opportunities of our times is to transform and re-define where and what we consider home. We have to expand this beyond our own roof and walls beyond our local communities, and even beyond our country. We need to remember and respect Earth as our home and return to ways that live in harmony with her, and all her inhabitants, not at odds. When we return to the home in our hearts and extend the loving kindness from here out to everything and everyone around us…then we will be truly home. Home in a new and loving world, where the solutions to all our perceived problems are not only possible but implemented and celebrated.
‘Resilience is, like life itself, messy imperfect, and inefficient. But it survives.’ – Andrew Zolli