A Paqo’s Approach to Resilience

When we do our daily practice of saminchakuy, we are releasing our heavy energy and refining our ability to more perfectly absorb sami, the light living energy. When we add in saiwachakuy, we are allowing Mother Earth to support, strengthen, and empower us with her sami. According to don Juan Nuñez del Prado, one benefit from among the many benefits of both practices is that we increase our capacity for resiliency. We become more flexible in our response to troubling outer circumstances and our own inner dissonance. We can bounce back from challenges, external and internal, more quickly. Energetically and emotionally, we are able to be more like martial artists: no matter how severely buffeted we are by traumas and turmoil, we are not thrown badly off balance, but instead land in alignment with our center.

Resilience, in this sense, is dependent on qaway, on our ability to see reality as it really is, which means with some measure of equanimity. There are two common definitions of equanimity: “mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation” and “an ability to recover from oralone- Cropped Pixabay ga78d69bf7_1920 adjust easily to misfortune or change.” Through qaway, we acknowledge the “reality” of what is happening “out there” and “in here,” without distorting it or denying it, and through that clarity we achieve a measure of energetic detachment that allows us to choose a nimble, efficient, productive, and appropriate response. Sometimes that appropriate response is choosing to be non-reactive and logical, or displaying self-restraint and tempering our emotions, words, and actions. Sometimes it is expressing our will by forcefully establishing a boundary and saying “No!” or it is giving ourselves up to our grief or despair and allowing ourselves to feel this excruciating moment of our humanness. Qaway lets us be who we really are and see others and the world for who and what they really are—admittedly not so easy a task since we so often are operating from our psychological shadows and being triggered or are projecting onto others—and resilience allows us to deal what is and not be resistant to it or slayed by it.

I have been thinking about resilience lately in light of world events, from global issues such as the ongoing pandemic and the war in Ukraine to national tragedies such as the plethora (epidemic) of gun violence and mass murder in the United States. The poet and novelist Maya Angelou, now deceased, lived in the next town over from me. I read her works in school, but I observed her demeanor in person. The few times I interacted with her or observed her, I was always aware of an aura of calmness and centeredness about her. She had a difficult life, and one of her most quoted lines comes from her lived experience and her resiliency to life experiences: “I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.” Those two sentences capture the essence of what it means to be resilient.

A closely related view was expressed by Helen Keller, “Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” We certainly can overcome things, sometimes in truly amazing and nearly unbelievable ways. It’s an achievement to be a “survivor,” which is different from thinking we are “victors,” although overcoming something surely is its own kind of victory. We can survive and be reduced and still not have lost ourselves or a sense of our kanay, of who we really are and of the potential of our Inka Seed. But without resilience—the ability to recover and adjust—it seems almost impossible to overcome any significant challenge or tragedy with our humanness intact, or at least significantly unscathed.

I think the underlying struggle many of us face when we reflect upon the many difficult and even tragic world and national events occurring right now is not the struggle to reconcile good and evil or right and Celebrating you compressed cropped AdobeStock_73874996wrong, but the challenge of keeping conscious our choice for resiliency over resignation.

When we frame difficulties and even traumas in terms of resilience, which keeps resignation at bay, we can see that what we are witnessing in our world represents more of the energy of “overcoming” than of “succumbing.” What is the world rallying around in the Ukrainian people if not their incredible displays of resilience? Why are we praying for the parents of murdered school children except that they can marshal their resilience in the face of such heartrending loss? When we choose to do saminchakuy every day, or even hucha miqhuy, what are we seeking more of except the personal power to follow the inner compass of our Inka Seed, which directs us through our dark nights of the soul to the light of our greater capacities, even of our human grandeur?

The human world—the kay pacha—is a world of both sami and hucha. We are beings of both sami and hucha. And yet we have within our mystical body two centers of pure sami: our Inka Seed (the seat of our will) and our sonqo ñawi (the eye of our heart/feelings). Through them we both feel and we choose. At the two extremes, we feel despair or hope, and we choose defeat or we strive. Together, I think, they are the source of our resiliency: through their power we navigate the in-between spaces, where the bulk of life plays out. Together, as the source of our resiliency, they are what pull us up, up, up no matter what is trying to pull us down, down, down. They are what allow us to marshal our personal power and declare, once again quoting Maya Angelou: “You may shoot me with your words, / You may cut me with your eyes, / You may kill me with your hatefulness, / But still, like air, I’ll rise.”


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