In these powerfully challenging times, your heart may be feeling overwhelmed and tender. How do you choose what is yours to do in the midst of the pain caused by racism and the losses suffered through the coronavirus? How do you build a resilient heart that sees a clear path through the overwhelm to authentic service?

The first step to a resilient heart is a grounded heart, to anchor and support the most tender part of you. Imagine opening the bottom of your heart and dropping roots into the center of the earth. Feel the nourishment and support available to you in the earth under your feet. Visualize energy flowing up from the earth through the bottoms of your feet and into your heart, as if you were a giant oak tree. Pause and take a few breaths to savor this level of support.

Next, open to experiencing a resourceful heart. Imagine turning your leaves to follow the sun, basking in that energy and support from above and letting it flow into your heart. As a giant oak tree, experience how you have all the resources of the earth and sun available to you. Pause and take a few breaths to receive this level of resourcefulness.

As you settle in this place, the next step is to shift into an aware heart. Has your heart gotten numb in the face of the world’s pain? What is it that you don’t want to feel? Once you can identify the emotions you are holding at bay, gently touch into them. You are likely to notice that your resourceful heart can more easily tolerate what it could not bear before. Savor the gift of an aware heart for a few minutes.

From this grounded, resourceful and aware place, open your heart to what crying need calls you the most strongly. Set aside the “should”s that may be coming from your community, and settle into what your heart knows is your unique way to contribute. Perhaps you might be called to be an activist, a support for activists, a teacher, an author, a discussion convener, a donor to certain causes, or a resource provider. Only you can uncover your most purposeful path forward.

A book I highly recommend to deepen this practice is the book Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength and Happiness by neuropsychologist and Buddhist teacher Rick Hanson and his son Forrest Hanson.

Resilient by Rick Hanson

These days it’s hard to count on the world outside. So it’s vital to grow strengths inside like grit, gratitude, and compassion—the key to resilience, and to lasting well-being in a changing world. Read this book to learn how to grow an unshakable core by developing 12 vital inner strengths.