“Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.” Carl Jung
TASK AT HAND: This week I’m thinking about equanimity. Let me preface, without writing another sentence, that the secret anxiolytic elixir of life is equanimity. I don’t usually bestow such praise on any one quality but – in the case of equanimity – it is warranted.
What is equanimity?
Equanimity is not a virtue or emotion but instead a skill. Equanimity is the ability to remain stable and composed when under stress. Equanimity is the skill to exercise calmness in the midst of a storm; the faculty to remain balanced in a state of disequilibrium. Equanimity comes and goes but, as you will see below, is a competence worth cultivating because it is essential for navigating the choppy waters that we are sure to encounter. Without equanimity, there is a propensity to slide into reaction without strategy.
Stability Under Stress. Composure Amidst Concern. How do we go about cultivating equanimity? How do we strengthen ourselves to remain stable under stress? How do we exert control to remain composed amidst anxiety and concern?
The strategy I have found to yield the most benefit towards a state of equanimity is summed up as follows: “analysis without judgment”. Take any situation, especially those that cause you to have unpleasant feelings, and you will see that the negativity arises from the emotions we placate on situations. This is happening because, during our analysis of a situation, we judge. Consequently, when we judge, we attribute qualifiers like “good”, “bad”, “terrible” that ultimately spawn anxiety and fear.
Alternatively, exercise the skill of analysis without judgment as follows:
1. Analyze the situation or conflict.
2. Assess the relative consequences possible.
3. Decipher the relative impact of different strategies to a satisfactory resolution.
No need for anxiety, fear or pain in any part of this process. By taking away judgment, you remain with analytic faculties to work out a solution. You will notice that this allows you to remain composed despite chaos and disaster. There is a wonderful Tori Amos quote that I believe sums up this strategy well and I paraphrase to: “It’s okay when everything is not okay.”
MEDICINE & MACULA: Today, Sunday September 24, I have the privilege of walking with my wife Jasmine and my children Max, Leo and Paloma as part of the VitreoRetinal Surgery, PA (VRS) team for the Foundation Fighting Blindness VisionWalk.
Today is the 11th Annual Twin Cities VisionWalk to be held at the Lake Harriet Bandshell in Minneapolis MN. The VisionWalk Mission – Changing Lives One Step at a Time – speaks to the fact that since its inception in the Spring of 2006, VisionWalk has raised over $45 million to fund sight-saving research.
Great time walking with my family and the VRS team for a wonderful cause! Many thanks for everyone who participated!
GRATIS: “Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.” Marcus Aurelius (Meditations)
My best to you,