A Key To Mental Resilience: A Meaningful Life

Written by Endeavour College of Natural Health | 20 February, 2019

Endeavour College of Natural Health had the rare opportunity to listen to one of the foremost meditation teachers of the modern time, Dr Alan Wallace.

After spending fourteen years training as a Tibetan Buddhist monk and being ordained by the Dalai Lama, Dr Wallace went on to earn an undergraduate degree in physics and the philosophy of science as well as a doctorate in religious studies. He is the founder and president of Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies and continually seeks innovative ways to integrate Buddhist contemplative practices with a Western scientific study of the mind. See below for highlights of his talk on 13 November 2018 at the Melbourne campus. To see the full-length talk visit YouTube.

So the meaning of resilience. It's a nice, ordinary term. I like to avoid esoteric terminology, and resilience we all have a pretty good idea. But here, I'm looking in the dictionary. This is what I came up with, the ability to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions and to spring back into shape. Resilience, you can refer to the physical systems. Resilience, springing back into shape. If you get warped, you get crushed, then you spring back if that physical entity is resilient. So for the physical, so for the mental. Sometimes, we may find our pace of life, or what happens in daily life, just crushing, right? On occasion. And we found, "oh, it was a brutal day. I just felt crushed by what happened it was really difficult." Sometimes the economy gets crushed, and then somehow seems to spring back again and again. The impact we've had on the environment is sometimes quite brutal, crushing. Will the environment spring back to shape after we've deforested, polluted, globally warmed, burning holes in the ozone layers, and so forth. who is more resilient? The human species, or the natural environment? I put my money on the natural environment. It's been around here a lot longer than we have.

So in short, to restore one's equilibrium and elasticity. So I don't think that's an unusual definition, but I really resonate with it. That strikes me as very, very meaningful. And then we see there are two types of resilience, so first of all, physical resilience. Well, that has to have a lot to do with natural health, physical health. And that is we're bound to be exposed to viruses, to bacteria, on occasion to injury, illness, bound to have problems arising in our internal organs, and so forth. But when we do fall into ill health, with a little bit of help from our friends, and I think you have a very holistic approach to prevention of illness, but also the treatment of illness. And the whole idea would be, I think, too, how you say, to bolster, to support one's immune system, to restore one's vitality, to spring back into shape. Physically, in terms of physical well-being and balance.

So there's a very good ideal, a very good one. I think it's very prominent here in this college, And then because, again, because of the profound interrelationship between our physical presence in the world and our mental presence in the world. It's a very clear, very well-established scientific fact that our mental states, degrees of anxiety, of depression, of stress, of anger, on the downside, but also inner well-being, a sense of peace, of meaning, of buoyancy. All of these have a profound impact, for better and worse on the body. And of course, the body has an enormous influence on our minds.

So to think of natural health, and to exclude either the body or the mind, is frankly completely unrealistic. And they're complementary, and so that's what we'll be focusing on. I will have very little background in physical health or natural medicine. A long but not very deep encounter with traditional Tibetan medicine. So I know something about that, but was never professionally trained.

So we move on to the central theme for tonight, mental resilience is closely related to one's degree of mental balance, and I'll unpack that a lot more as the evening goes on. And then this topic, the degree of meaning in one's life, and I'd like to shed, hopefully, a clear light, a more specific light, on what that might mean.

Endeavour College of Natural Health

Endeavour College of Natural Health is Australia's largest Higher Education provider of natural medicine courses.

The College is known as the centre of excellence for natural medicine and is respected for its internationally recognised academic teams and high calibre graduates. Endeavour offers Bachelor of Health Science degrees in Naturopathy, Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine, Acupuncture and Myotherapy, a fully online Bachelor of Complementary Medicine and  HLT52015 Diploma of Remedial Massage.

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