Just for a moment, indulge in the opportunity to imagine the infinitely blissed out benefits of being able to maintain your positive mind frame in pretty much any scenario. Exhibiting a quiet strength and dignity amid a sea of chaos. Keeping your cool. Leaving the ruffled feathers on the headless chickens, as it were.
Brain training isn’t just the game that jolly old people, celebrities and irritating children seem to, quite bizarrely, enjoy playing via small portable computers. Oh no.
Training the brain to achieve mental ‘equanimity’ ; we’ll go into this a little later, is an invaluable skill requiring only an open mind, a willingness to practice and an aversion to going through life getting dragged into judgemental, negative and unfulfilling mindsets.
Were you aware that it’s actually entirely possible to possess a Superman/Bruce Lee level of mental defence to the wearing, emotional impact of being continuously bombarded by stress/irritation/boredom inducing events faced on a day to day basis?
… well it is!
“But I don’t want to adapt to the situation – it’s not fair. I want the situation to adapt to me!”.
Tough shit. Unfortunately sunshine, life isn’t always that kind.
There will be occasions where things don’t go quite to plan, when circumstances beyond your control dictate fate and there’s not – physically – a great deal you can do about it.
So, what mentally can we do?
It’s all about perspective and how we perceive a given event/situation/set of circumstances.
The golden ticket comes when it hits home that while certain circumstances may be beyond our control, our emotional response is not.
It is in fact, something that can we can, with a little commitment, control to our own advantage.
But how? If I’m pissed off, I’m pissed off – right?
The message “I’m pissed off” is a decision you make, subconsciously. A decision you then choose to re-affirm both psychologically and physiologically; through your re-inforcing thoughts…
…and through your physical reactions.
Now it’s consciously possible to actually pause, take a step back, literally, if you’d been tempted to headbutt said source of irritation, and remember that your reaction is something you do have power over. That by reacting in a negative way, you won’t alter the past – a concept currently considered metaphysically impossible, you’ll simply be creating further unfruitful implications for the future.
Consider the last thing you got annoyed about enough to put you in a bad mood. Will it really matter this time next year? Chances are, probably not.
It’s a case of realising that any emotion, be it unbridled rage, loved-up contentment, euphoric joy; all have their time, they come, they stay a while and they go, giving way to some other mood or state.
The whole concept of equanimity is based upon not allowing these emotions to bring about too much in the way of knicker twisting.
The font of all knowledge officially classes it as;
Neither a thought nor an emotion, it is rather the steady conscious realization of reality’s transience. It is the ground for wisdom and fredom and the protector of compassion and love. While some may think of equanimity as dry neutrality or cool aloofness, mature equanimity produces a radiance and warmth of being. The Buddha described a mind filled with equanimity as “abundant, exalted, immeasurable, without hostility and without ill-will.
“Life is never fair. And perhaps for most of us, it is a good thing that it is not.”, said Mr Oscar Wilde. And why ever not?
Because it’s through adversity that we discover out who we are, realising our strengths and what we’re capable of withstanding, without trials and tribulations, life would be boring.
Studies show that manageable amounts of stress can actually be good for us; motivating our psyche and boosting the immune system. So the next time someone cuts you up at a roundabout, don’t do the angry fist shake thing, instead give them a big genuine thumbs up. They’ve potentially assisted you in swerving a nasty bout of lurgy. Plus, their reaction will probably be comedy gold. If this wasn’t enough, you’ve also got the smug satisfaction of being the bigger person.
So all in all, practicing equanimity is not a case of trying to go through life in a robotic indifferent kind of way, more a conscious realisation that cirumstances and emotions are an ongoing process and by not attaching too much weight to moods and feelings, it’s absolutely possibly to live a much more blissful existence. The diamond sutra illustrates the point beautifully…
Thus shall ye think of this fleeting world:
A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream;
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.
*An absolute fabrication for the record.