Equanimity

Equanimity is one of the Four Noble truths of Buddhism.  It means to maintain mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation.  I think we can all agree that this year has put our ability of achieving equanimity to the test.  The fact that we are in a global pandemic, has created an environment widespread with stress, anger, and frustration.  

Let the wave of memory, the storm of desire, the fire of emotion pass through without affecting your equanimity.

Sathya Sai Baba

In addition to that, we all have people in our lives who are a challenge for us to share in relationship.  Some people always need to be in control, and therefore they may try and diminish others as a result.  Some people like to gossip and speak ill of others.  Sometimes we are the object of these criticisms.  It is best to practice equanimity and ignore these negative statements whenever possible.  By responding, we may end up in a negative spiral that is difficult to remove ourselves from.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” 

Martin Luther King, Jr. 
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Here are some simple ways to practice equanimity in your life:

  • Try and keep your desire to react with equanimity forefront in your mind.  Whenever you feel the adrenaline rush (fight or flight) that comes when someone says or does something to create anger, take a deep breath. Use this feeling as a signal for you to calm your mind down and keep your reactions even.
  • Visualize the reaction you desire to have in these difficult situations.  When you are outside of a difficult situation, picture yourself keeping calm and not reacting to the negativity.  By doing this, you are creating the tools needed to react in a healthy manner the next time you are challenged in this way.
  • Sometimes the best reaction to someone’s else’s rage is to walk away without reacting at all.  It is very easy to get sucked into the fury and come back with our own, but the more powerful reaction to make your point is to leave the other person standing there in their own anger.  It also gives you time to put your thoughts together and react evenly and calmly.  
  • Create a mantra to use when you are faced with these situations.  If you have a tool in your toolbox to help you keep calm, you will be less likely to react in a negative way.  Practice saying it many times in front of a mirror so you are ready when the situation warrants its use.
  • Meditation is an excellent tool to develop equanimity in your life.  Practicing mindfulness and meditating on sending positive energy to the people in your life will change the way you relate to them.  
  • Use physical activity to de-stress and release the negativity when you practice equanimity.  Getting your body moving will help you to analyze what happened and your reactions.  It will help you to recognize what you did right and what you can do better next time. 
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Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.

Albert Einstein

Equanimity is not about allowing other people to dump on you or about suppressing your emotions. Conversely, it is about reacting in a healthy manner to difficult people and situations.  It is about maintaining your calm, peaceful state of mind in the presence of rage.  It is about replacing your own hostility with tranquility.  

If every one of us made an attempt at equanimity, this world would be a better place.  

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