Mental resilience


Mental resilience is like being physically fit. With mental resilience, people are able to handle the stress and difficulties that are inevitable in life. Most of us are not born with 6 packs and strong biceps. We have to work on these. It is the same with mental resilience. We can work on mental skills to cultivate positive emotions and skilful perspectives.

It is possible to learn skills which can enable us to be happier in our day to day lives and to develop a healthier perspective on the way we see the world.

Sometimes stress will become too much and this can have physical and mental consequences. Sometimes we adopt coping strategies that are not helpful and which can harm us. We can learn new ways of coping that can help us to get through these times and to become well. See Managing stress.

Links to websites
The Mental Health Foundation website has an A-Z of resources:
Martin Seligman’s Positive Psychology:

Developing positive mind states

All of us want to be happy. Many people think that achieving happiness is dependent on external circumstances – a great job, a lovely family, good health and a nice house. Quite the contrary, you can have all of the above and still be miserable. On the other hand, you can have a relatively low paying job, live alone, have some illness and live in a state house AND still be happy and content.

The main difference is the mind set. Genuine happiness, the lasting variety can be cultivated by training a healthy mind. This section talks about different techniques that have been shown to improve happiness and contentment levels. Like training our body, training the mind requires practice. In order for us to become more mentally fit, we have to “exercise” these skills or mind states regularly.

Skills include:

  • gratitude
  • loving kindness and compassion
  • living in the moment or living mindfully.

“Happiness is the ‘goal of goals’ and we cannot leave it to chance.”

Matthieu Ricard

Practical techniques for developing positive mind states

Survival tips when meditating:

  1. Be clear of your intention.  Before you begin to meditate, say in your mind that you intend to be mindful for the next few minutes. Or, say that you intend to develop more compassion and loving kindness in the next few minutes.

  2. Have a half smile on your face. It makes the experience more fun rather than hard work. You are trying to be calm and peaceful, not stressed.

  3. When you get distracted (which WILL happen many times), be kind to yourself and say that it’s perfectly normal. Then gently and kindly bring back your attention to the object of meditation. This step is important if you are impatient or have a tendency to be hard on yourself.  You are not in a competition. You are doing this to increase your happiness so learn to be easy on yourself.  

  4. If you are a beginner, try 5 minutes a day to start with. Once 5 minutes is achievable, then try 6 minutes for a few days or a week, then 7 and so on.  Regular practitioners reserve at least 20 minutes daily to meditation.

  5. Joining or starting a regular meditation group will enhance your practice.

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Gratitude is a positive emotion, which if engendered can make an individual appreciate more from life. Possessions, situations and people become more valued. If practiced regularly, the techniques in this recording can bring about a change in one’s enjoyment of the world.

Developing Loving Kindness, Compassion and Forgiveness
In almost all cultures and religions, people are taught (and commanded) to love their neighbours. In reality, this is hard to do in particular if your neighbour is truly annoying! There are practical techniques that all of us can learn in order to cultivate genuine love and compassion to people around us. Aside from benefiting people around you, you will benefit the most.

Ajahn Chandako [00:24:06]

Living Mindfully on a Daily Basis
In addition to practicing Mindfulness of the Breath Meditation, one can live mindfulness throughout the day. In our hurried existence, learning how to be aware of the present moment many times during the day can make our day to day grind a joy to experience.

Ajahn Chandako [00:26:43]

Guided Meditation on Loving Kindness or Kindly Awareness
This meditation practice helps us feel more positive, accepting and kindly towards both ourselves and others and helps us develop a sense of equanimity towards both the pain and pleasure in life.

Warning: Please do not listen to this file if you are driving or operating heavy machinery as it can cause sleepiness and relaxation. 

Guided Meditation on Mindfulness of the Breath
The breath has been one of the most common objects used for calming and meditation techniques. Vidyamala guides us in a classic mindfulness of the breath exercise. This exercise has existed for more than 2500 years and remains relevant in calming our minds. In a more profound level, it teaches us how to respond to situations and not just react. Studies show that regularly practicing Mindfulness of the Breath for 2 months can result in improvement in anxiety, higher levels of contentment and calm.

Warning: Please do not listen to this file if you are driving or operating heavy machinery as it can cause sleepiness and relaxation.

Brief Walking Meditation by U Vansa

A wandering mind is perfectly normal for most people. However, many meditation beginners equate a wandering mind and distractability with failure in their meditation practice. An alternative for beginners in meditation is to consider walking meditation first before trying sitting meditation. If one can practice walking meditation for a few minutes regularly, one can then progress to doing other meditations while washing the dishes, folding or ironing clothes, while exercising or while performing other daily routine activities.

U Vansa (Sean Pritchard) [00:09:25]

Brief Sitting Meditation by U Vansa (excellent for beginners)

A short version of mindfulness meditation using the breath as the object of focus. This is a good sampler on mindulfness meditation for beginners. If one can do mindfulness meditation for 3 minutes every day for a week, then one might consider doing 4 minutes the following week and so forth. Studies have shown that regular meditation for about 2 months can bring about changes in one's perspective, mental health and possibly physical well being.

U Vansa (Sean Pritchard) [00:09:10]

Brief Loving Kindness Meditation while Sitting by Sharon Salzberg 

This is a good introduction for beginners to Loving Kindness Meditation. The goal is to increase enhance feelings of compassion and connectedness to ourselves, other people and other beings. Loving Kindness meditation has been practiced for at least 2 thousand years.

Sharon Salzberg [00:08:40]

Brief Loving Kindness Meditation while Walking by Sharon Salzberg 

This is an active form of meditation combining walking and loving kindess meditations. The goal is to incorporate loving kindness aspirations in our routine thinking process. Instead of constantly being immersed in our worries, a loving kindess wish to ourselves and other beings becomes an oasis in our busy and frenetic minds.

Sharon Salzberg [00:02:21]

Download the audio files

These audio files are available for download as a single zip file from the Downloads page.