• The CalmPost

Your Friend, Equanimity

Updated: May 22, 2019

In times of "rock bottom"...

Though, hopefully not literally, as such was the case this weekend when my sweet little, Suki took a tumble through the gaps of my staircase to hit a carpeted bottom... Serious sigh...Ugh...

There's a friend of mine I like to call in order to get me back on my (hopefully not fractured!) feet:


As a "simple" practice of "resting" in a place of neutrality, not judging thoughts, feelings, or happenings as "good" or "bad," in practicality, equanimity can be extremely difficult to maintain in such that life is a dynamic, ever-changing phenomenon.

"Whatever is present, whether a sensation in your body or a thought in your mind, just let that be," says Dr. John Astin, author of This Extraordinary Moment, in a guided meditation on Resting in Being.

"Allow everything about your experience to simply be, making no effort to resist or change it in anyway."

Currently enrolled in Dr. Astin's positive psychology class at Santa Clara University, what I can say about my explorations into the powerful practice above - a somewhat radical or "transpersonal acceptance" of the moment in front of you - is that I watched it become my most reliable, trusted, and even logical companion in a time of high stress and utter panic.

"Whether you feel at ease or stressed, happy or sad, clear or confused, allow yourself to find ease in the simple feeling of your own being," Dr. Astin adds."Feel it. Feel the presence of you."

In the presence of my very worried self, I noticed, immediately, that my dog's sudden slip through the stairs resulted in a shattered leg. But what I also noticed is that there was a surprisingly calm, peaceful, and even composed voice speaking to me throughout; distinguishable from all the mental madness immediately telling me I could have done something to prevent the fall...

Breathe. We've got this. Stay grounded and respond in a way that's most effective.

"Your own beingness is a powerful place of refuge, a stable ground that's present in the midst of any challenging storms that may come your way."

Ironically, though focused on a broken leg, I found the "stable ground" Dr. Astin speaks of by not (only) dwelling on the misfortune of what had just gone on. Instead, by staying present, and maintaining as much of a healthy distance between my thoughts and emotions overall, I had much more room and availability in my consciousness to move and think with clarity. I also observed how much more readily available feelings of gratitude became...

Thank God She's Alive.

"Just know, that regardless of what might be showing up for you in your life and experience, you are. You exist," says Dr. Astin.

Now, with a tendency toward being an anxious person, the fact I didn't get swept into the current of dread and horrific pain is rather remarkable. That wouldn't have been the case a year ago, if not just months ago...

How come?

In the book The Road Home by Ethan Nichtern, a senior teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist tradition, the author discusses how an equanimous state of mind is something that is "cultivated."Now, while Dr. Astin explains how you can access it in every moment - right now, even - it is ultimately something that takes years upon years of focus by practicing meditation, says Nichtern.

"Like almost anything worth doing in life, meditation is a long term endeavor, meant to be practiced a little bit each day over a long period of time, along with occasional periods of retreat to deepen your experience."

Meditation, he says, is like "accepting your own friend request."

"...Meditation is the best way I've found to feel at home in my experience, which leads to a kind of sustainable satisfaction that can begin to pervade every situation you encounter, whether pleasant or painful."

Though utterly painful to see such an innocent being in so much shock and confusion, pleasant to see how accepting all emotions - both good and bad - is the key to an open headspace to be as receptive, immediate, and responsible at all times.

Whether through a radical or "transpersonal acceptance," an active meditation practice, or your own avenue to bring you back "here"... Equanimity ultimately provides a gap - or cushion! - to bounce back from any fall.

It's what can keep you firmly planted on two, three, or four feet...

Casts, broken bones, and All!

Dr. John Astin points out how something we sometimes strive for - an equanimous state of mind - is seemingly paradoxical. While many say it is something to be practiced, it's as though Dr. Astin has found us all a "short cut" to something always and already here! You can follow Dr. Astin on Instagram #thisisalwaysit.

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