Marc's View: What is equanimity?
By Marc Lainhart
Equanimity is a state of psychological stability and composure undisturbed by experience of or exposure to emotions, pain, or other phenomena that may cause others to lose the balance of their mind.
Today, there are several vital and urgent questions about what we can do with all the suffering, divide, violence, politics, pollution, pandemics, misinformation, and disinformation. Civil unrest, racial injustice, climate change, possibly civil war or a national divorce of the states, to a more personal and painful experience of a family member, colleague, or loved one who may struggle with addiction, mental health, illness, depression, and anxiety or may have a solid and different political or pandemic viewpoint from your own or has just lost faith and is ready to throw in the towel. Practicing the art of equanimity with compassion for another human, maintaining balance and a peaceful heart so that we do not take on our shoulders the weight of the world and many different pressures, opinions, egos, and critics of life?
The Serenity Prayer is a first step and one prayer that has helped and inspired millions of people from around the planet. Even though the precise origins have long been debated, it is used and embraced by Alcoholics Anonymous and circulated widely as a motto for its 12-step program. The prayer is now ubiquitous and international, on mugs and greeting cards to embroidered pillows and posters, attributions ranging from Aristotle, St. Augustine, Francis of Assisi, to Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr.
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
A practice that supports this and something we can become more aware of in society is cultivating the art of equanimity. Letting go of control doesn't mean that you don't care about someone or some issue; it just realizes that the only person we ever really have control over is ourselves! Some may even ask, is equanimity a marvelous thing to practice in our fast-paced, chaotic, and changing society? The answer is Yes! Cultivating the qualities of kindness, compassion, and joy opens our hearts to others and increases empathy and love. Equanimity balances the giving of our heart's love with the recognition and acceptance that things are the way they are. Without this recognition, it's easy to fall into compassion fatigue, helper-burnout, become jaded and lose trust and faith in our society, and even lead us down a path to despair filled with anxiety, depression, self-sabotage, suicide thoughts, and or even suicide. Logic, reason, experiences, and human wisdom recognize that we can love and hold space for others, but it is their journey and not our wishes or wants for them.
“You always own the option of having no opinion. There is never any need to get worked up or to trouble your soul about things you can't control. These things are not asking to be judged by you. Leave them alone.” -Marcus Aurelius.
Simple Ways to maintain, experience, cultivate, and practice the art of equanimity:
💎Daily meditation while setting an intention for equanimity. The Buddha reminds us there is no path better than that of self-care and self-awareness.
💎Say no to multitasking! Cultivating a disciplined mind is all about focusing, which in turn determines our reality. When we multitask, we are not focusing on one thing but rather doing the opposite. Try saying no to multitasking as much as we can and devote our full attention to every task.
💎By focusing our full attention on one task, we will be cultivating the practice and art of equanimity through our mind's focus.
💎Focus on one thing at a time to avoid falling into the “monkey mind” scenario. Centering our attention and focusing on the task at hand can help reduce the mind chatter, self-sabotage, and crazy ego monkeys we all have in our minds. Try using and practicing meditation on focus or mindfulness.
💎Name the ego and become aware of duality to help practice the art of equanimity.
💎Eating habits, good hydration, and a sound sleeping routine will improve our stability. Our eating habits can create a roller coaster with our emotions, which usually includes a lot of processed sugars. Food with high amounts of processed sugar establishes a sense of euphoria and excess energy, letting our minds and moods plummet after consumption. Try avoiding eating highly processed food that develops cravings and will bring our efforts for equanimity to an unfair and out-of-balance fight. Mindful eating is a great way to get some discipline to our eating habits and further strengthen the art of practicing equanimity.
💎Surrender to our feelings and emotions. To Buddhism, there is nothing more real than the sensations in the body. Those who practice Buddha's teachings through Vipassana know that to take power away from the monkey mind, we must focus on what is happening in the body. The mind can make things happen and forget them, but the body never lies or forgets.
💎Creativity, sports, art, daily activity, getting out in nature, and mindfulness. Mindfulness is the power of now and experiencing "the magic at the moment." Another one of Buddhism's pillars: being present at the moment. Our expectations usually lead us down the path of self-disappointment, but it will also make us miserable because we demand the future, which is constantly changing. Trying to change the past is futile; practicing the art of equanimity reminds us that today is the gift, which is why we call it the present!
Practicing the art of equanimity should become a daily and disciplined routine and human habit moving forward. Through intention, prayer, mediation, mantras, focus and mindfulness, good eating and sleeping habits, patience, and practicing the art of equanimity will not only become second nature to us in this daily and hectic grind of life, but it will also become the new golden rule and keeping the balance of our mind and the monkey mind at bay or at least on a short leash.
"Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better to take things as they come along with patience and equanimity." -Carl Jung.
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