The meditation element of our yoga practice specifically helps to develop our capacity to be resilient, tap into our inner strength, and cultivate grit. These qualities are essential for maintaining overall balance, managing stress, and being able to deal with difficult emotions. Without inner strength and grit, we can be more prone to health issues, less able to self-regulate, and more likely to be knocked down by life’s challenges.
The great news is that we can take action to develop these qualities as they are all things that can be learned and practiced by anyone. Grit is how we persevere and stay motivated to move in the direction we want to go in. It’s our driving force, while resilience is the ability to withstand life’s challenges and to get back up when we fall.
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Both are closely linked to inner strength, which is a combination of different qualities that keep us feeling strong enough to deal with challenges. The traits of inner strength become our own toolbox of resources that we can draw on when needed, such as confidence, willpower, courage, acceptance, and focus.
Grit, resilience, and inner strength can be cultivated through conscious effort to help maintain emotional and mental health, as well as physical. All three of these aspects of health are linked, so when we take care of one, we take care of ourselves on all levels.
Researchers in a 2016 study found that meditation improved stress resilience as well as reducing inflammation, showing the benefits that a meditation practice can have both physically and mentally. There are many different ways that a regular meditation practice can support you in cultivating inner strength and grit, but I’ve found seven that are the most potent.
7 ways a regular meditation practice promotes inner strength and grit
- It calms down the mind so that you can access your inner strength. Meditation allows you to downregulate the nervous system out of the stress response into rest and digest mode, which helps you better be able to deal with difficulties. When we are in our fight or flight stress response, we are reactive and less able to think clearly. Whereas when we are soothed out of stress and into our restful state, we are well equipped to deal with challenges, process difficult emotions, and operate from a stronger place.
- It helps us to self-regulate. Just like there are certain types of strength-building exercises that we can do to develop physical strength and target particular muscle groups, we can also affect change in the brain through meditation. A study from 2011 found that in those who practiced mindfulness meditation, visible changes in the gray matter could be seen in the brain, which is linked to regulating emotions.
- It cultivates awareness. This has a positive influence on all areas of life because the moment something is brought into our consciousness, we are given the opportunity to deal with whatever it might be. Trying to shut emotions out that we see as negative or trying to hide from parts of ourselves we don’t like can be exhausting. By shining a light into the shadows, we become aware and able to let go, which ultimately clears the path to keep us moving in the direction of our goals.
- It helps us understand the importance of showing up. Meditation develops our ability to feel the benefits of sticking at something, showing the value of consistency and commitment to our own well being. It’s not a quick fix; meditation is called a practice for a reason. It’s different each time because we ourselves move through so many different phases. By showing up, we learn and grow, connecting to our inner strength and self-motivation.
- It keeps you focused. In order to redirect your energy and focus to where it’s most needed, you have to have space to reflect, connect, and resource. Grit and inner strength don’t just appear out of nowhere; it takes a bit of work to nurture them to grow so that they can help us to keep focused on what is personally important to us. In a 2019 study from Sweden, it was shown that cultivating inner strength brought balance to everyday life and helped participants to meet their goals.
- It builds healthy habits that can reprogram how you think. So many of the struggles that we face come from overthinking or from repetitive thought patterns that we have learned in the past. Downward spirals of worry can take us away from our inner strength and distract us from our purpose. By sitting down to meditate every day, you are choosing to build a healthy habit that can release any attachments to your thoughts. You start to realize that thoughts are just thoughts and not necessarily reality.
- It teaches responsibility. No one else is responsible for our own emotions or experience. Through meditation, we learn that we are responsible for ourselves, and it is up to us to make choices that support our personal well being. This takes a willingness to do the work and sit with discomfort, which we can understandably feel resistant to. But when we do take responsibility, we access the inner strength that fuels our projects, a growth mindset, and an ability to connect to others.
Inner-strength and grit are both key components of maintaining a daily meditation practice. The more you meditate, the more you tap into your inner strength, and the more inner strength you have, the more you’re able to stick to wellbeing practices. This is not necessarily an easy path, but it is a worthwhile route for anyone who wants to access that place of strength within that provides a set of essential resources key to thriving in life.