Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you with the present – Marcus Aurelius’
What would your life be like if you had calmness, composure and presence of mind to handle difficult situations that arise in your life? (I get angry and irritated like anyone else and equanimity is a principle that I strive to use in my daily life). “Equanimity” is a state of even mindedness, calmness and composure in which you remain unaffected by the daily ebbs and flows of life.
Life is constantly throwing new things at you and to deal with these you could take a number of approaches. You can stand your ground as a craggy rock, resisting the onslaught of daily life and fight your way though it. But, this is futile as life has a way of breaking down your resistance. Another alternative is to imagine floating on the surface of life, like a piece of wood floating on the surface of a ocean. This may seem safe but the risk is that you may get thrown upon the rocks of life or be grounded on the sea shore. The last one, is a buoy tethered to the ocean floor and you rise up and down with the waves but you don’t get thrown around. This represents “equanimity” an inner-resilience that allows you survive any storm of life.
Sensations, feelings, happiness, sorrow and misery are impermanent. They are transitory, coming and going like passing clouds in the sky. You have to endure them patiently and bravely; learn to be unaffected by these. This is what causes much unhappiness in your life. Remaining positive under all aspects of life, even the negativity leads to peace of mind. You remain unaffected by the daily ebbs and flows of life, yet in spite of this there is a inner peace that these cannot be touched by the turmoil and problems of daily life.
So how can you develop equanimity? Well, as always here are my suggestions:
- Learn to meditate a little, this is a vast topic and I don’t want get into it here. But a little mindfulness meditation can bring you clarity, peace of mind and equanimity.
- Take a deep breath, if you find yourself getting angry, take a deep breath and step back from the situation. Often I find that anger gets the best of me and I say somethings in haste that I regret later on. (Responding to someone in an emotional state such as anger is never good). When you argue with someone – tell them you need a minute, get some fresh air, take a deep breath and then step back into the situation. If you do this, you’ll find better ways of dealing with that situation.
- Let things be as they are, learn to let go of judgement that is things being bad or good, if we can look at a situation with a calm, kindness compassion, then we can say “this too shall pass” and let it go and not let it define us. When we do this we become more content and be evermore present.
- Be an observer, and detach yourself from the situation. Don’t react to the situation. Experience the situation with awareness, pay attention to your thoughts, feelings, emotions and external events as they happen, but don’t react (sometimes reacting just makes things worse). This creates a “psychological” space between you and the situation and it helps you to not get caught up in the situation. Try to observe in a non-attached way. This will help you to be in control of the situation as opposed to the situation taking control of you.