This is a continuation of last week’s post, Pura Vida: A Note on Equanimity, which talks about one of my experiences with equanimity.
Equanimity is a profoundly steady, calm, and balanced state of mind which is unshakeable by stress, adversity, or anything else for that matter.
That blissfully serene state provides an amazing foundation for compassion and loving-kindness. It allows you to interact with the world without reacting based on emotion, and in that sense it is greatly freeing – it liberates you from the shackles of environmental stimuli which otherwise poke and prod us into various actions through either seeking pleasurable feelings or avoiding uncomfortable ones.
Between the mind and the constant drumming of experience there is a space that deafens the noise and softens the blows so that they don’t disturb us. That space is equanimity. It is not about being numb, but simply being unaffected by peacefully acknowledging and accepting the way things are.
So, how do we achieve and maintain it?
1. Become the Observer
Take time to practice quieting your mind and simply observing the sensations and feelings that you experience. Notice the pleasant and unpleasant feelings, and the neutral ones too. Don’t think about them or spend any time with them, simply observe as they come and go. If it helps, write them down as they pass through your mind.
Be impartial to the feelings, don’t grasp the pleasant ones or push away the unpleasant. Let your mind relax and remain unaffected by the sensations. Reflect on their transient nature, none of the feelings last forever.
For the best results, incorporate this practice as a meditation in the morning, even if its just for 5 minutes.
2. Build an Understanding of How Little You Control
Much of your daily life is beyond your control. At first this may seem to be an uncomfortable realization, but it is the foundation for great calmness.
There are numerous factors and events behind everything that will happen to you today, all you can do is play your small part. Even the best laid plans and most carefully thought out projects face unexpected challenges.
You will continuously face adversity, annoyances, and stress from various sources no matter what you do, where you go, or who you are with. Its a fact of life. Though you can’t control what will happen, you CAN control how you react to it.
By understanding that “shit happens” it is easier to accept and let go of it. Why should you allow it to disturb you if it was beyond your influence?
3. Set Your Intention to be Calm
In the morning, set your intention for the day to be calm and centered. Throughout the day, remind yourself of this goal. You can post sticky notes or calming pictures in places you frequent, or even ask your phone to remind you periodically if you like.
When you remind yourself, think about the benefits of equanimity: no stress, a clear head, greater capacity for compassion, increased patience, contentment, and happiness.
4. View Adverse and Uncomfortable Situations as the Perfect Practice for Equanimity
Recognize and appreciate the challenges and obstacles life presents you as opportunities to strengthen your ability to stay calm and balanced. By being grateful for those experiences and the practice they provide, they become tools to help you instead of stress inducing pains. This subtle switch in perspective makes it easier to go with the flow and remain unaffected.
5. Make Space Between Your Experience and Your Awareness
Maintain focus on your breath and other neutral sensations like the feeling of the clothes on your skin. Be aware of everything that is going on, but allow pleasurable and uncomfortable sensations to become background noise. By focusing on the neutral feelings you will naturally become balanced and stay centered.
Allow everything to be as it is without want for change. No seeking or avoiding, just acceptance.
6. Develop Patience With Yourself
Slow down your thinking and find the calm in chaotic environments and situations. I like to slow myself down when I am in a busy environment such as an airport, bus station, or big city. I take a few mental steps back and just observe the other people rushing around in their own little worlds, I find a sense of stillness in all that activity.
When you find yourself rushing, ask yourself how much difference it really makes. Are you really going to get there much quicker by rushing? Can you control that traffic that is slowing you down? Does complaining about a long line really speed it up? If you get there a few minutes sooner, does it make much difference in the long run?
7. Take Small Breaks When You Need Them
If you find yourself getting worked up, recognize the need for an interruption. Go on a short walk, take several deep breaths, or simply just stop what you’re doing for a moment. By shifting your focus you interrupt the process of getting worked up.
Bring your focus to the present moment, whichever way works best for you. This naturally calms down your mental activity and relaxes your body.
Building an unshakable calm and balanced mindset doesn’t always happen overnight (not that it can’t), so allow yourself time to practice a little bit each day. Over time, you will find it easier to stay calm and relaxed despite anything life throws your way.
I’m a travel-obsessed abstract thinker here to help you extract the hidden lessons behind your day-to-day experience.
Integrity Health is a franchise company residing in New Hampshire. We specialize in health coaching centers combining fitness with weight loss to optimize and promote optimal health. We are also the national purveyors of the EZCOACH Fitness Prescription System licensed by fitness professionals.