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Balanced Hedonism
Day-long Retreat with
Sandra Savine, Terre Sisson & Mary Michaud
April 23rd, 10am–5pm
North Garden, VA


Grace Under Pressure

From Jane Hirshfield’s poem, “Optimism”

Resilience...sinuous tenacity of a tree;
finding the light newly blocked on one side,
it turns in another.

We humans can summon similar subtle staying power with soft resilience, which gives us grace under pressure.

Anytime we take-in a deep breath and exhale, we are tapping into our inner calm on demand. This can be a perpetual cycle of joyous becoming. This knowledge alone should be enough to reduce fear (basic/fear)-of-fear-itself and give us grace under pressure the next time we need it.

Our bodies are so resilient; they are built for success. As with any mind-body feedback loop, messages travel downstream from our conscious and unconscious mind through the vagus nerve, (the Commander in Chief when it comes to having grace under pressure) signaling our organs to create an inner-calm so we can rest and digest during time of safety or to prepare the body for fight-or-flight in dangerous situations (according to Psychology Today, 2/13/03)

By generating positive emotions and learned optimism, we can rewire networks associated with a mindset that will give us grace under pressure. “Change your mind; change your brain.”

For example, there are habits that stimulate our vagus nerve and help keep us calm.

Be aware of your breath.

Stay away from negative people. Negativity is contagious. Our sensors are delicate.(The vagus nerve picks up peoples’ vibes too.) It is easier for us to have inner calm when we feel resilient rather than uptight and anxious. Be selective what company you keep, particularly when you need grace under pressure.

Foster loving kindness. Positive emotions build physical health. (Barbara Frederickson and Bethany Kok of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2010 study)

Many ancient philosophies describe loving kindness as equanimity or mental calmness. Equanimity has its biological roots in the vagus nerve and is synonymous with grace under pressure.

Kindness to ourselves and others quickens our resilience which provides our nervous system with the sinuous tenacity of a tree. Unlike the tree, we humans must practice: Go ahead, take a nice, deep breath; absorb the perpetual cycle of joyous becoming.


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