When was the last time you heard the word “equanimity”? Most may ponder the question, while those who meditate softly smile and sigh. It’s a good word to know.

Equanimity is defined as mental or emotional stability or composure, especially under tension or strain. It’s the act of facing challenges with a calm clarity and open perspective versus reacting with unsettling emotions.

Mastering the art of equanimity doesn’t mean disconnecting from the world, but lessening the effects it can have on us mentally and emotionally. It’s not something you have or don’t have; it’s something you cultivate. And the focus doesn’t have to be on a global scale. It can start with your relationship with your immediate surroundings – what you see, hear and contemplate each moment of your day. 

In fact, when you practice, its best to start small with something as simple as meditation. Equanimity is a core principle of meditation, like mindfulness, and while the two are connected, they are different. Mindfulness is being fully aware of your surroundings in each moment; equanimity is the ability to forego reaction and maintain calm regardless of
external circumstances.

I use the Calm app for my daily meditation and love Jeff Warren’s description of equanimity in a recent Daily Trip: “It’s the subtle skill of being open and not getting uptight or annoyed about any imperfections in our immediate environment.” 

How do you start cultivating equanimity? Sit in a comfortable space, close your eyes and take a couple of deep breaths. Try to relax your mind, clear your thoughts (that’s the hard part), and just be where you are. With these small steps, you’re meditating. You practice equanimity by not letting the barking dog, buzzing fly or itchy nose bother you; you simply notice them, accept that they are there, softly smile and return to your inner calm. 

The more you practice, the easier it is to apply these same principals throughout your day. If something bothers you, you simply accept that it’s there, take a deep breath and return to your center. 

What do you gain by practicing equanimity? Patience, clarity, compassion, grace, time, more smiles, better sleep. What do you lose? Stress, agitation, judgement, reactivity, restless sleep.

Let’s all embrace a little more equanimity this year. Just imagine what our collective efforts could do for each of us individually and for the world around us.

Lauren Del Sarto is founder and publisher of Desert Health and can be reached at [email protected].

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