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Adaptability and Resilience

Ed Halliwell
Mindfulness Teacher and Author of Into The Heart of Mindfulness

Learning outcomes

  • How mindfulness practice can help us cultivate an ability to be adaptive to the needs of the moment
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Executive Bio

Ed Halliwell

Mindfulness Teacher and Author of Into The Heart of Mindfulness

Ed is a UK-based mindfulness teacher. He has written three books: Into The Heart of Mindfulness, Mindfulness: How To Live Well By Paying Attention (published in a new edition as Mindfulness Made Easy) and (as co-author) The Mindful Manifesto. He is an associate of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre and Sussex Mindfulness Centre, and regularly speaks on mindfulness-related topics, in the media and at conferences, festivals and other events. He leads public mindfulness courses, workshops and retreats in London, Surrey and Sussex, and has introduced and taught mindfulness in workplaces such as Accenture, UNICEF UK, Imperial College Business School, and the Houses of Parliament. Read more

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Interview Transcript

How do you look at the relationship between mindfulness and self-mastery?

I would say that it’s a process towards self-mastery, because let’s not make it too much of a big deal. Who among us is fully self-mastered? If you get there, you probably don’t need to come to a mindfulness course. You can teach me. Moving towards self-mastery is a process. I would argue that mindfulness training is a way to travel on that journey, towards great self-mastery.

We cannot be masters of ourselves until we can notice what’s happening and until we can understand ourselves. William James said, in 1890, that if we can learn to bring back our wandering attentions, the skill of attention, then that’s what can make us master of ourselves. He said that nobody who doesn’t have this skill can be master of themselves. By learning how to pay attention and learning how to regulate our experience, the A and the B of mindfulness training, awareness and being with, not impulsively reacting, automatically, then we are able to regulate more skillfully, and therefore, be more resilient, because we’re not just drawn here, there and everywhere, when difficulties come. We’re able to stay present, we’re able to be less reactive and more steady. From that place, we are able to discern and act on real choices, rather than just first thing that comes into our mind, which will be a habit. It might be a good habit, a lot of the time, but it’s not a helpful habit all the time.

Each of us are different. We’ll each have our different habits that are skillful and we’ll each have our different habits that are not skillful, which is why we need the first bit of mindfulness training, which is to become aware of what’s going on, because we are all different. There’s no simple way to say, this is how mindfulness will help you, because you are unique. But it can give us the skills to look and find out and see what those are and the skills to practice not reacting habitually. In that way, we can start to become more masters of our experience, if you like.

If we were to look at traits like adaptability and resilience, in what ways have you found a relationship between mindfulness practice and those two traits, specifically?

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