Equanimity has been described as “the emotional ground for wisdom and freedom and the protector of compassion and love.” It is the ability to see your surroundings without getting caught and held by what we see: the power of observation conquering the desire for sensation. It is the ability to approach our circumstances with patience, compassion, balance, composure, and stability. It is esteemed as a virtue in all of the major faiths and it is what I have been seeking most of my life.
In the Buddhist practice, equanimity is seen as the protector against the “eight worldly winds”: praise, blame, success, failure, pleasure, pain, fame, and disrepute. Without equanimity, these experiences (or winds of life) can blow a person off course. An example most fitting to give here would be for blogging/social media: without equanimity, becoming “popular” or influential can lead to arrogance and a personal investment in praise and compliments can lead to conceit. On the other side of the coin, remaining unnoticed or receiving criticism may lead to feelings of incompetence and inadequacy.
It was my lack of equanimity that has kept me away from my blog for so long… and made me want to, at times, scrap the whole thing and call it a day. I would swing back and forth between feeling above blogging and beneath it… getting caught and held by the two extremes of my pendulous emotions. I have lacked the inner balance that enables a person to remain centered and focused a during times of stress. I have been attached to my health problems, pain, spiritual struggles, and have been far too “of the world” over the last 5 months. I was wanting to write about it, but I was not able to do so because (in my emotional turmoil) I lacked objectivity, clarity, and, rational thought. No good can come from such a place and so I remained silent.
Of course Blogging was not REALLY the issue but more a reflection of the bigger picture: I lacked the strength and stability that it takes to find balance in my approach with the world (both virtual and real). In physical terms: If the core is weak, pain will abound. It’s as true for the body as it is for the soul and heart.
I came upon the word “equanimity” a few weeks ago while reading an article online. It struck me in such a way that I went on a tear learning as much as I could about it . “People who are masters of equanimity remain even-tempered and unaffected by outside influences. They have learned not to give in to their likes and dislikes nor to react to situations according to their desires and aversions.”
After reading this, I instantly thought of the hymn It Is Well With my Soul by Horatio G. Spafford:
When peace, like a river, attendeth my
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
This man lived his life in equanimity. You can read his remarkable story here.
Over the past few days, I have concluded that equanimity is very much a Biblical concept and is the result of “renewing one’s mind” or having “the mind of Christ” combined with “walking after the spirit”. It is a DISCIPLINE attained through developing the mental qualities that bring about “the peace that surpasseth understanding”. Those qualities being integrity, faith, mindfulness, well-being, wisdom, insight, and freedom.
Over the next few weeks, I plan on sharing my journey as I continue to develop these individual qualities in my daily life. I will explore each concept, share my struggles, and show Biblically how I am to approach and develop each of these parts of my character. The mind-body connection will be my main focus... the why (mind) and the how (body)...resulting in a change of action.
I don't know about you, but I'm tired of being blown about by the winds of life and my feelings. If you are too, then come... let us learn to confidently step out of the boat into the storm together... keeping our eyes focused on the one who calms the seas and gives us peace. For all good things are found in Jesus Christ alone.