Resilience is not a word that we find very often in the Cayce readings. When they do use the term, it’s related to the health of the body (e.g., “….so as to add to the resilience and resistance to be builded into the activities of the body itself” 5011-1) However, there is also a related term that Cayce seems to favor, and it carries a similar meaning: hardiness, the capacity to stay healthy and to thrive even in the face of life stresses. And, for Cayce, hardiness is usually linked to living purposefully. For example, a 64-year-old woman was told in her life reading: “Before this the entity was in the land of the present nativity during the early periods of settling; among the hardy purposeful people. The entity grew in grace and in understanding, in its attempt to meet the needs of those conditions that arose in those periods of trial, those periods of loneliness, those periods of activity.” 3216-1
So what would it take for each of us to build a greater capacity for resilient, hardy living? There are some important clues that come from modern day research about the personal qualities and practices of highly resilient people. A recent book entitled Resilience documents a set of “resilience factors.” The authors are two highly respected psychiatrists and medical school professors, Steven Southwick and Dennis Charney; and they encourage us to intentionally nurture these factors in our lives. Here are four of the ten – ones that might be especially valuable not just to stay healthy but also support deeper spiritual work and personal transformation.
Moral compass. What is your own sense of right and wrong? What are the values and standards by which you are willing and able to measure your life? Highly resilient people tend to have clear ideals. This finding from modern day research is an exact match to Cayce’s most frequent advice for purposeful, hardy living! What’s more, it’s that moral compass that ensures that any kind of personal transformation we achieve will take us in the direction in which we really want to go.
Facing fear. Resilient people tend to be counter-phobic. They have a courageous attitude towards life and they are willing to meet head-on the life situations that feel scary. For the resilient person, courage is not the absence of fear but rather the decision that something is more important than the fear. They have a deep trust in their own inner resources to move through and beyond the fears that might other block their personal growth.
Role models. Resilient people usually have mentors and role models. They are inspired by the lives of other individuals who have met adversity and trauma with grace and hopefulness. Sometimes those role models are people with whom they have a direct and personal relationship. Other times the role model may be the well-lived life of someone we know about from afar. Cognitive and emotional flexibility. Resilient people avoid rigidity. They intentionally nurture open-minded thinking (cognition) about problems, and they are able to step back and witness their own emotions in the midst of stresses and difficulties. This kind of flexibility in thinking and feeling creates the space for spiritual inspiration and renewal in the face of adversity.
The next time you face a serious adversity along your path of personal transformation and spiritual growth, try coming back to these four factors as a perspective on the challenge at hand. Consider how one or more of them could help you be more resilient. These factors can not only help you stay persistent and strong in the face of discouraging problems, they can actually help you go beyond just “bouncing back” and actually “bounce forward” so that the adversity is a springboard to growth.