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Benefit from Adversity

“Victory over the obstacles that confront us isn’t as much about liberating ourselves from adversity as it is about obtaining the greatest benefit as possible from having encountered it.”


Practicing Buddhist and physician Alex Lickerman challenges readers to reflect on a “completely different way of considering the awkward, the uneven, and the difficult” in his book The Undefeated Mind: On the Science of Constructing an Indestructible Self.


He writes, “Victory over the obstacles that confront us isn’t as much about liberating ourselves from adversity as it is about obtaining the greatest benefit as possible from having encountered it.”

What if we could let blessings dominate the experience of our difficulties, even as we face them? It’s a nice idea, but how do we make this possible in the moment we are dealing with those challenges? For me, the answer has been meditation.


Bessel van der Kolk shares his research about meditation and neuroplasticity in his book The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma: “Being able to hover calmly and objectively over our thoughts, feelings, and emotions and then take our time to respond allows the executive brain to inhibit, organize, and modulate the hardwired automatic reactions preprogrammed into the emotional brain.”


Of all the retraining processes with which I have experimented in the past fifteen years, meditation has been the source of the most profound transformation to my experience of focal dystonia. Because of my meditation practice I have greater physical control of the remaining symptoms, a broader emotional perspective, and an increased ability to “hover calmly and objectively” over my movement choices. An impression of an increased amount of time in each breath allows for a sensation of a suspension of time, a “different way of considering the awkward, the uneven, and the difficult”, and even, in the moment, an ability to examine and experience the benefits that come from adversity.

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