nurture your resilience

Updated On — 28th May, 2021

Realize that for many our negativity bias in steroids right now, and that’s OK. Notice the lovely things that happen in your day. Perhaps someone holds a door open to you at the store. Just let these short sweet moments in, and nurture your resilience.


I’ve always loved the way Japanese poets influenced by the Jodo Shinshu tradition express their wisdom in verse. Here is a haiku by the priest Ho Sen:

Another year passed.
Empty rice sacks remind me
how lucky I am

You would think Ho Sen would feel lucky if his rice sacks were full, but instead he reflects on his good fortune–the empty sacks remind him of all the food he has received that kept him alive.

Perhaps today we could take a cue from Ho Shen:

Another impeachment of the president

My meditation cushion reminds me

How lucky I am to rest my body and mind.

I realize many of you on this list do not live in, or care much about, the USA. Many of us here are still reeling from the violent insurrection mounted by right wing followers of our president last Wednesday, January 6, 2021.

And yesterday Donald Trump was the first president in our history impeached twice, this time charged with “incitement of insurrection.”

yet another re-traumatization

The images of the Confederate flag and a noose on the grounds of the Capitol Building in Washington DC re-traumatize many–tearing into wounds weeping since 1619.

A long time reader of this weekly newsletter recently chastised me, saying the teachings are better served if I didn’t discuss politics.

This is way beyond politics, my brother.

a noose and a Confederate flag, again

The ongoing stress of a pandemic gone wild under a president that doesn’t care about anyone but himself, the cruel murder of George Floyd under the knee of police officer who for a moment flashed a disquieting smile, the summer of riots following the deaths of so many young people of color–and now a noose appears on a crudely constructed gallows in front of the most hallowed of government buildings in our nation’s capital.

Forgive me, but the teachings are very much served by those who are not afraid to feel the collective trauma of so many.

By those who summon the inner wherewithal to reflect on the deep divisions in our country and the glaring realities of white privilege.

If you feel pushed over a cliff, the edge of which you were hanging on for dear life before the riots, you are not alone.

So here we are.

Returning to my take on Ho Sen’s haiku:

My meditation cushion reminds me
How lucky I am to rest my body and mind.

Try not to be afraid of what you are feeling. That takes courage. And this courage nurtures our resilience.

Realize that for many our negativity bias is on steroids right now, and that’s OK.

notice a tiny purple flower growing through the side of the road-that's her reliencePin
notice a tiny purple flower growing through the side of the road-that’s her resilience

Take the risk of noticing the lovely things that happen in your day. Perhaps someone holds a door open to you at the store. Maybe you glimpse a tiny purple flower by the side of the road.

let the sweet moments in

Just let these short sweet moments in, the ones our negativity bias wants to brush aside.

And deeply reflect on the words of the Buddha, in the Dhammapada, echoed many centuries later by Dr. King, whose holiday we celebrate next week:

Hatred will never cease with hatred, it will only cease by love, this is an eternal law.

And have the courage to take your meditation seat, if only for 15 minutes, and give yourself a break.

And nurture your resilience.

About Tom Davidson-Marx

Former Buddhist monk, now father of two and full time registered nurse, my passion is sharing what I have learned from a life-long love, study and practice of the early Buddhist teachings. Thanks for reading.

4 thoughts on “nurture your resilience”

  1. Thank you, as always, for your thoughts, Tom. I think Tara Brach recently said something like we need more activists to get on their cushions and more meditators out in the streets? I always understood that meditation was meant to help us see the world as it is, rather than shelter us from what we might already be privileged enough to hide from. I am grateful you fearlessly discuss it all. If this nation is ever to fulfill its promises, white people like you and me must find the courage to face things as they are. It seems to me meditation can help us do that. If we are willing.

    • Thanks Rachael. One of my teachers in Thailand once told me answers which come from thinking aren’t true answers, they are just more thinking. I have never forgot this. He said treating others with genuine kindness, even when you disagree, is just one example of true understanding.

      He said contemplation which is based on stillness is more reliable, because when you are still you can see deeply and it does not come from thinking; if you think too much you only see the surface and superficial.

      He kept telling me to train your mind to be still, so that it can penetrate deeply into the nature of the moment and its repercussions. This is the most profound gift of our meditation practice I feel.

      Thanks again.

  2. As a person of color, I sincerely appreciate and am deeply touched by your words, as well as your courage to express them so eloquently with conviction and without apology.

    • Thanks so much for this very moving comment, Phyllis. Although I am white and Caucasian, I was raised in Central American by a woman of color, an indigenous “nanny”and always felt “white guilt.” I still do. Even saying that seems unnecessary. There is so much to take in if we simply allow ourselves to be vulnerable. So much healing can happen–but we need to model our deep shared truths, our profound interconnection, and our responsibility of kindness. I am hopeful. Thanks Phyllis so much.


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