The ability to remain consistently calm, in this time of incessant turbulence and rapid unpredictable bipolar shifts, is a cherished resource. Equanimity greets every moment with equal attention, appreciation, clarity and calm.
Buddhist practice embraces equanimity as the ultimate attitude needed for successful transition from human to infinite life. The ability to be present, to not sow a seed of reincarnation—by distraction or attachment—in the dying process, frees the energy body to evolve in its definitive journey beyond human life.
The Shamans of Ancient Mexico also valued the relationship of equanimity and death. They reasoned that any moment in life could be one’s final moment, hence one should be fully present, alive, and equally appreciative of every moment in life, regardless of personal preferences.
The Shaman’s perspective is the ultimate Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all moments are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The Shamans cultivate equanimity as a program for living, the Buddhists as the key in dying. Both cultivate an attitude of deep calm in approaching life’s greatest encounter—its final moment.
How can we cultivate equanimity?
The Shamans contribute an attitude shift. Each day they remind themselves, ” My name is ________, a being who is going to die.” Far from being a morbid ‘Good Morning, World,’ this use of death as an advisor heightens one’s awareness to be fully present and engaged in every moment of the day, regardless of the activity.
How often do we lament a Monday morning, or the end of a joyous encounter? Even worse, how often do we dread an encounter or work task, and pray for it to quickly end. The intent of equanimity is to be equally calm and present to each equal moment, regardless of its intensity.
The Buddhists contribute the practice of meditation to still the mind, a great perpetrator of non-equanimity known as worry. Yoga, with its Hindu roots, uses self-regulation of the body to achieve equanimity. The practice of pranayama breathing exercises greatly enhances voluntary control of the autonomic nervous system’s mobilizing defenses, in the face of real or imagined stress, a valuable tool to achieve equanimity.
Autogenic training and self-hypnosis are tools to deepen the conscious relationship between mind and body. When we give the body a specific instruction when in a deeply relaxed state, the subconscious begins to listen and override its genetic, archetypal, or habitual programs.
Thus, we can instruct every part of our body to remain deeply calm while we remain fully awake and present to all conditions. Jan and I recently discovered the gift of Dr. Eleanor Eggers, a 97-year-old semi–retired psychologist, who developed a simple website giving away the secrets of her life’s work. This is her contribution to the greater good.
Her website offers the autogenic phrases that Elmer and Alyce Green developed at the Menninger Foundation, for deep relaxation, as well as other resources from her long and fruitful career. We happily pass on her website link: Dr. Eleanor Eggers.
Though, at present, we may experience limitation in exacting needed changes to our chaotic world, we are all free, as Victor Frankl would say, to assume the attitude we will embody in our encounters with that world. Equanimity ranks highest in our approach to life, in and beyond this world.
May all beings find equanimity.