Sep 082015

There’s plenty of research to show that people who feel a higher sense of purpose, who have a spiritual path, who pray or meditate, on average feel more wellbeing, and handle challenges more easily. But you can’t plug these features into your life like a phone app, so how can you evolve them and find a way that suits you?

One place to start is great teachers like Jesus, Muhammad and the Sufi poet Rumi. The best way I’ve found to access this wisdom is the work of Neil Douglas Klotz, who not only re-translates from the original language, but teaches spiritual practices used at the time, such as song, sound mantras, sacred movement, and walking meditation, which help to experience and embody them.

All of this has given me a very different, living sense of what Jesus and others can teach us about resilience. Here’s an example: the third Beatitude. In King Jamesthis reads, Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Neil’s translation is: Healthy are those who have softened what is rigid within; they shall be gifted with the fruitfulness of the earth.

A related source of my roots of resilience is what I’ve learned from semi-nomadic Bedouin in the Sahara.

Since 2001, I have led twelve retreat groups in the Tunisian Sahara, travelling on foot and on camel with Bedouin guides.If you want a role model of how to be happy with no control over your environment, and few material possessions, the Bedouin are an inspiring one. As they often told me, “You may be rich in possessions, but we are rich in our community”.

Some of the spiritual roots of resilience in the desert and nomadic teachings include:

  • Seeing divinity as the unity of spirit in all life, not as a patriarch.
  • Valuing community as a source of support, stability and wisdom.
  • Deep contact with nature to provide nourishment and guidance.
  • Valuing such qualities as patience, trust and giving and receiving blessings, as a better way of meeting challenges positively.

A community that’s part of your spiritual roots is harder to find in Britain than the Sahara, but we will aim to create this in our weekend groups . Sharing songs, food, stories, and your doubts on the journey, can all help this process

Click here for information on our forthcoming weekend “The Spiritual Roots of Resilience” at Allanton Peace Sanctuary, 18-20 September