equanimity

Nikon D750 f/1.8 1/4000s 35mm 200 ISO

Seclusion Retreat … 11th day

Again,

I sneak into your garden

to eat aronia berries.

(Please keep yourself hidden

until I go away!)

~Ryokan (cited: K Tanahashi, Sky Above, Great Wind)

It was about 20 years ago when I was first introduced to the word equanimity, grandmother’s calm. Of note, my maternal grandmother was anything but calm. Yet, even to this day I find myself puzzled about that sudden very brief phone call in which she asked if I was pregnant. She in Oregon; I in Colorado. A couple weeks later, a positive pregnancy test. How did she know?

Equanimity is felt within the grandparent who have more than one grandchild; that is, each child is her/his grandchild and each receives love with inclusiveness absent of discrimination.

Sister Dang Nghiem (Mindfulness as Medicine) identities equanimity as an element of true love that contains inclusiveness. Inclusiveness. Yes, I personally am acquainted with the felt sense of inclusiveness — cherished and joy-filled memories gifted with unconditional togetherness (a silent moment of gratitude). Regrettably, I, as so many, am also very aware of exclusion’s uncertain darkness (A silent prayer, may we be free from anxiety).

Reflecting on the continuum of inclusion and exclusion, I find that moments of inclusiveness also block connection with others. Is there a clear differentiation between when one is in or out? (May we all love and be loved).

Nikon D750 f/1.8 1/1600s 35mm 200 ISO

I hope you find grounding in the following article written by Gary Gach, Practicing equanimity in a state of emergency. Lion’s Roar March 19, 2020.

“When the crowded Vietnamese refugee boats met with storms or pirates, if everyone panicked, all would be lost. But if even one person on the boat remained calm and centered, it was enough. It showed the way for everyone to survive.” 

–Thich Nhat Hanh

“When I first heard about COVID-19 in January, I knew I’d have to dial up my equanimity mode. Equanimity is an evenness of mind, considered by Buddhists as one of four Brahma Viharas (sublime attitudes, or immeasurable abodes). Equanimity enables us to remain alert for danger while calm – and level-headed in the midst of emergency – all on an even keel.

“Equanimity doesn’t mean indifference. Mindful equanimity is grounded in caring. When I’m open-hearted and present with the suffering within and around me, then I can engage in meaningful compassionate action. Since a person can be a carrier of COVID-19 and remain asymptomatic, when I’ve done all I can to be safe, then I’m glad to know I’m not a vector for the virus to travel on to others.

“Equanimity means inclusivity. It’s interesting to note how this isn’t an epidemic we’re living through but a pandemic. The Greek roots of the word pandemic mean “pertaining to all people; public, common.” It’s vital we not let this pandemic fracture or fragment our commonality. The fact we all could eventually contract this virus is a most strange but very real reminder that we are all one.

“The inclusivity of equanimity means embracing our pain and our joy as one. It also means acknowledging obstacles as well as breakthroughs. While I’m hopeful for breakthroughs, I’d like to point out three common obstacles in our path. With mindfulness, we can stop, breathe, and smile at ourselves before our awareness gets hijacked by our habit energies of denial, anger, and fear.

“It’s a common tendency to shut down, go numb, and ignore any 800-lb gorilla in the room. Our deluded tendency to ignore has two toxic cousins: anger and fear. It’s needful to be aware of anger so we don’t blindly act out from its knee-jerk impulses. If I had tickets for this year’s now-cancelled SXSW festival in Austin, I might feel bummed that it was cancelled, push away my disappointment, then let out my micro-aggression on some innocent passerby. Moreover, other people are now living close to the edge, too, and so my anger can easily trigger their own. Say traffic stalls: rather than honk my horn and set off a chain reaction, I can pause, breathe, and smile at my natural instinct, that of others, refrain from honking back, and remain in equanimity.”

FYI

On Monday, March 23, TED kicks off a free, live and daily conversation series, TED Connects: Community and Hope. As COVID-19 continues to sweep the globe, it’s hard to know where to turn or what to think. Hosted by head of TED Chris Anderson and current affairs curator Whitney Pennington Rodgers, this new program will feature experts whose ideas can help us reflect and work through this time with a sense of responsibility, compassion and wisdom.

We are in this global boat together, please be safe.