I’ve chosen equanimity as a theme for the whole summer season. It’s a state of calmness and mental stability I’ve found to be more challenging for me to maintain in these turbulent times. I figure most of us on the planet are feeling the same. When things are unsettling and change from one extreme to the other moment by moment, we’re thrown off-balance.
To regain it, we need to step back, take a breath, and go to that which supports us at our core. It’s the gist of the journey: when times are good, it’s easy to operate with less regard or appreciation for our support system. When times are tough, we’re reminded of how important it is to have an anchor. Life’s ups and downs will always be with us. It’s part of the human condition. Striking and maintaining a balance – whether life is going well for us or not — can be achieved through practice. This is the middle path.
“There are two types of seeds in the mind: those that create anger, fear, frustration, jealousy, hatred and those that create love, compassion, equanimity and joy. Spirituality is germination and sprouting of the second group and transforming the first group.” — Amrit Ray
Equanimity is defined as an evenness in mind, especially under stress. It also connotes a state of balance which is strengthened through a mindfulness practice. This evenness, or calmness of mind, reduces stress. In the Buddhist tradition, one of the ways equanimity is defined is “a mind at rest, free from negative thoughts and possessiveness.” A mindfulness practice supports this state. The following four foundational components of a mindfulness practice are:
- Focus on the breath and notice how you breathe.
- Bring your attention to your whole body.
- Inhale peace; exhale strife.
- Allow your body to relax.
- Focus on the breath and notice how you feel.
- Bring your attention to each moment.
- Inhale joy; exhale sadness.
- Allow your feelings to surface.
Present moment awareness:
- Focus on the breath and notice your awareness.
- Bring your attention to each moment.
- Inhale calm; exhale discord.
- Allow your breathing to be.
- Focus on the breath and notice your thoughts.
- Bring your attention to the variety of your thoughts.
- Inhale positivity; exhale negativity.
- Allow your thoughts to be.
“Equanimity is the keel that keeps you stable in the stormy ocean of life.”
— Khang Kijarro Nguyen
A practice of equanimity promotes compassion. It helps us to be less judgmental and to accept people and situations as they are. When we are in an equanimous state, we become aware of the human condition and the divine paradox within which we all live and exist: we are the same yet unique all at once. Despite our differences, we all share the desire to be loved and to be at peace.
Here’s another mindfulness practice which promotes a compassionate nature. Prepare yourself by getting into a comfortable position. Close your eyes and begin by focusing on your breath. Bring to mind the following:
- Reflect on someone for whom you have neutral feelings.
- Reflect on someone for whom you have positive feelings.
- Reflect on someone for whom you have negative feelings.
As you focus on each of these individuals, notice your feelings and how these feelings affect you. Imagine if the person with whom you have neutral feelings did something which pleased, or displeased you. How would your feelings change? Notice how your feelings may change toward the person with whom you have positive feelings if they did something which hurt you. Finally, focus on the person who brings up negative emotions for you. Imagine they performed a kind act toward you and how your feelings then shifted toward them. Continue to breathe freely at each stage and let your breaths keep you grounded. Breathe in an acceptance of all these individuals, regardless of their actions. Breathe out any negative thoughts and feelings that come to you. Just like you, all of them want to be loved and at peace.
“Be happy for those who are happy, have compassion toward the unhappy, and maintain equanimity towards the wicked.” — Patanjali
In closing, it’s fascinating to note the relational dynamics which change throughout our lives: people we don’t know can do us a great kindness, those who at one time were close, can become distant, and those with whom we had conflict, may become allies. Maintaining a state of equanimity and holding to the middle path helps us to remain grounded and receptive and better able to handle all, no matter what comes our way.
Summer Scent: Orange Oil. The orange, considered the food of the gods for its vibrant flavor and brightening qualities, has an age-old history originally linked to India, China and the Mediterranean. There are two main varieties: sweet and bitter. Nutritionally, it’s packed with antioxidants and is known for its antimicrobial use and as a defense against cancer. Whether eaten, or using the oil derived from this awesome fruit, research suggests it also enhances exercise performance, can aid in weight loss, and lower cholesterol. Additionally, it’s used as a cleaning agent and as an insecticide.
Moreover, orange oil itself is used for a wide range of conditions. It has a calming effect on the mind and therefore reduces stress; it has anti-inflammatory properties, offers pain relief and can even lower blood pressure. Furthermore, it’s great for the skin and has been known to treat acne and boost collagen production. However, as with all oils, exercise caution when using topically or ingesting. For guidelines on use, more information, and to purchase, I recommend dōTERRA and Young Living products.
Suggested Reading: Equanimity: The Journey to Emotional Mastery by Tabassum Sabir
Images: Courtesy of pexels.com/freephoto stock source.