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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. 

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Spiritual practise should not be confused with grim duty. It is the laughter of the Dalai Lama and the wonder born with every child. – Jack Kornfield

All the problems that you face can be transformed into a spiritual practice. To do this simply feel yourself becoming invisible, as it were without the solidity of a material body. Now allow the noise of whatever causes you irritation, anger and frustration to pass right through you.

The countless job rejections, the car alarm, the dog barking, the children screaming, the traffic jam, not getting the job after all that preparation. Instead of resisting  and continually telling yourself “this should not be happening to me, why me?” Just let it be, let everything just pass through you.

Learning to let go should be learned before learning to get. Life should be touched, not strangled. You’ve got to relax, let it happen at times, and at others move forward with it – Ray Bradbury

Zen is known as the religion of every day life. So many people, including me perceive daily life as a source of constant busy-ness, rushing around, stress and nose-to-the-ground grind. We normally think that real life must exist somewhere out there thus completely missing the present and what it has to teach us.

To be honest, I’m still learning this as I go along. Life is the best teacher of all. Most of the time, life does not talk to you. It will just push you around and each push is life telling you to wake up, there’s something I want you to learn here.

We seek out the spiritual life because we think that it is beyond our mundane everyday experience, but this could not be further from the truth. The truth is, every day life is the spiritual way.

If you’ve ever tried sitting meditation you’ll know how difficult it is to keep your attention focused on the breath. Trying to keep your attention focused for long periods of extended time is no easy feat. The monkey mind jumps from here to there but the practise is learning to be aware of when the mind is wandering, and gently returning it to your breath. 

The Zen mind is learning to be mindful of what you’re doing in everyday life. You bring this awareness from sitting to your daily routine. For example, every time you walk up and down the stairs in your house, simply pay attention to every step, every movement, even your breathing. Try to be totally present, be aware that your mind has wandered and bring your attention back to what you were doing.

This practise can help with anything. If I’m writing a blog post, my mind gets pulled in every conceivable direction, but then I take a step back and return to the idea and carry on writing. I also have to be aware of the urges to do something else or wandering mind to other things that may or may not happen in the near future. I struggle with wandering mind as much as anyone else but I’m gradually getting better at it. A reminder to be here and now.

Being in the NOW is important. There is no past and there’s no future. All there ever was, is the NOW – the present. We can gain experience in the past, but we can’t relive it but we can hope for the future, but we don’t know if there is going to be one or how it will all turn out. Don’t be too attached to that which comes and goes – is always fleeting. Awakening to this ground of awareness is what will lead you to your end goal.  

So then life is lived more fully by simply being in the NOW – the present. Life then becomes a meditation.

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God will never give you anything you can’t handle, so don’t stress – Kelly Clarkson

Stress is a part of everyday life, but being stressed out is not. Your body is designed to handle, even  thrive on, brief periods of stress. However too much isn’t good for mind and soul. So, even when you can’t change a stressful outcome, you can have some control over the way you deal with it.

1. Breathe Easily
Breathing from your diaphragm oxygenates your blood, which helps you to relax instantly. To breathe deeply, begin by putting your hands on the abdomen just below your navel. Now, inhale slowly through your nose and watch your hand move out as your belly expands. Hold your breath from a few seconds, then exhale slowly. Repeat several times.

2. Visualise Calm
This is a highly effective technique in reducing and managing stress. Close your eyes, take three long, breaths, and spend a few minutes picturing a relaxing scene, such as walking on the beach, sitting by a brook. Focus on the details – the sights, sounds and smells.

3. Mantra
Everything is impermanent, as all things are subject to change. Remember this and you’ll get disheartened less often. Devise a simple affirmation – a short clear, positive statement about your ability to handle stress. So, the next time you feel as if life has thrown you overboard, repeat 2 to 3 times, “This too shall pass.”

4. Self Reflection
Writing provides perspective, you can start by reflecting on your day, your emotions, your thoughts and feelings. Ask yourself questions: What happened? What did you learn? Reflect on the questions you ask yourself and write them down.

5. Practise  Mindfulness
Mindfulness is an approach to life. The present is the only time we have. The past has gone and the future has yet to come. Start by focusing intently on a single object. Notice a pen’s shape. color, weight and feel. For a minute forget about your worries, deadlines and just focus intently on the object. Practicing mindfulness leads to relaxation.

6. Walk Away
Any time you feel your heart rate rising due to stress or anger, simply excuse yourself from the situation and do everything you can to recover. Take a few deep breaths, think positive thoughts and remind yourself that you are in control.