Learn to practice equanimity to bring calm into your life, even when things feel out of control!
At the Spring equinox last weekend I thought about what it means to have equal light and dark. This last year during the pandemic we have seen extreme inequality. Remember when almost no one who needed a COVID test could get one, but all of the professional ballplayers were getting tested frequently? Now we are facing new inequities in vaccine distribution. Some people who seek vaccines and are eligible for vaccines have been extremely frustrated by not being able to get appointments. While others, some who are not technically eligible, have breezed through a call or website and speak about the ease with which they received their vaccines. This has caused quite a bit of frustration and anxiety, and suffering!
A reminder of one of my mottos: “It’s not your circumstances that determine how you feel, it’s your thoughts about your circumstances.” Mindfulness practices remind us that if we are present, fully present with what is happening right now, we can release tension and anxiety and be observant of, rather than reactive to, our situation.
It is not just at the equinox that we experience equal light and dark, but those forces are always equal, somehow in balance. We observe darkness when we see marginalized populations suffering much greater losses due to COVID, or we witness the horror of mass shootings. Our hearts go out to the victims of these recent shootings, their families, and their communities.
We experience light as well.I had the pleasure of spending a week with my dad recently, including hugs, what a gift! Last month I got to hold my friend’s new baby and watch children play in the park on a sunny day. Those experiences are filled with light.
Consider for a moment that light and dark are always in balance. We strive for light, for joy and love, but grief and anger and fear are just as much a part of our lives. When we observe our experiences, we can choose what we focus on, and with practice, we can choose how we feel. Even in the face of terrible tragedies, we can maintain, or more quickly return to calm and … equanimity.
Equanimity is a sort of equinox. It is the equinox of feeling, when we feel equanimous our world is an equinox, not ruled by either light or dark, we are simply observant of our experience. When we practice equanimity we remain calm and compassionate, and we suffer less.
Where in your life are you in need of feelings of compassion rather than anger or fear?
Bring to mind a situation in your current life that causes you suffering, possibly fear, anxiety, or anger. Sit quietly for a moment and breathe deeply in and out through your nose. Make sure your breath is deep into your belly. Using the practice of equanimity, can you release your suffering and bring in compassion instead? This does not have to be compassion towards the person or situation that is causing you suffering (that’s equanimity 2.0 you can do that with further practice) but how about for yourself. Say to yourself, “even though things are not the way I want them to be in this moment, I accept this experience and feel love and compassion for myself and my discomfort.”
Give it a try and let me know what you experience!
Blessings and equanimity,