What is Equanimity?
A dictionary will say: equa·nim·i·ty noun \ˌē-kwə-ˈni-mə-tē, ˌe-kwə-\ : calm emotions when dealing with problems or pressure
But perhaps we can describe equanimity as the ability to compassionately accept where we are and be okay with that – even if we are still crying, shaking or overwhelmed with pain. We become able to say “Yes, this is what I’m feeling.”
This is not what most of us are taught. We are more likely to hear- “if I do this I will be punished” or “don’t be such a baby!” or “What’s wrong with you?” Equanimity is “Oh well, I was overwhelmed with…” With equanimity we’re not living from the point of how much guilt our emotions cause in us, but how we show up in life and navigate all the unpleasant things that happen.
“I know who I am and I am authentic in my being.” If we are questioning and denying the legitimacy of our experiences we are denying the expression of our true self. It is our experiences that makes us uniquely who we are, that and our ability to decide how we will respond to those experiences. Animals respond to life by seeking to survive. They have all the same emotions we do, but they can’t decide to laugh instead of cry or share a blessing instead of biting someone.
Pain, anger, and grief are a natural part of life therefore all beings experience mental/emotional/ physical pain sometimes. Feeling what we feel does not make us spiritual cripples, it allows us to practice compassion.
There once was a woman who lost her son. She was very sad. She went door to door seeking healers of all sorts. We cannot help you they said, “He’s dead.”
“He should not be dead” she cried!
Finally the woman came upon the Buddha and weeping told her sad story begging for the return of her son. The Buddha agreed to help her, “All you have to do,” he said, “is bring me a grain of rice from a household that has escaped the curse of grief.” With great hope, she went through the village, door by door, and through the neighboring villages, only to hear story upon story of suffering and loss. Finally she returned to the Buddha, no less in pain, but far wiser, more compassionate, and willing to accept her human lot. Life holds pain. There is suffering and it is caused by “This should not happen.”
This woman became enlightened by understanding these facts. When we are flattened by the things life can do to us- let’s remember that there is suffering- we are not going to get a spiritual ticket stamped “Saved from Life”. But remembering to realign ourselves to the Higher Power and enter the state of equanimity might be enough. Try it and see!
May I find joy in each moment.
May I find humor in my difficulties and laughter at my mistakes.
Often, Great Spirit, I am striving, trying, seeking, learning,
grasping, working to be good, to be loving, to be kind, to be successful, to be abundant. Life is exhausting for me when I fall
into those places where I don’t really believe
you can, or will help me.
Teach me to have faith, Great Spirit.
Help me to know that you are there for me.
Help me to stop striving and let you take care of me,
the way you do the birds of the air and the lilies of the field.
I accept your abundant, loving care in my life now.