The Role of Equanimity In Our Happiness

I know many passionate students who are delving deeper into Yoga on their own volition, using their free time to read and study about the many principles and ancient insight the practice has brought our way.

When we read the wisdom shared and translated from words written millennia ago, our minds aren’t always ready to fully absorb the material. Some of the Sutras still flummox me to this day, but many pieces of insight ring true.

The concept of Equanimity arises in many conversations. It seems from many perspectives this is an ethereal concept that feels far from reach. It sounds nice in theory, but unrealistic in application, something only the Dalai Lama and a handful of others have mastered. The very definition of equanimity reflects its simple meaning: a calmness even amongst the most difficult situations.

We chalk equanimity up to someone’s natural disposition, attributing much of our emotional processing to our genetics. Baby, I was born this way. While many of us may have been born more sensitive, feisty, temperamental or emotionally expressive than others, many of these tendencies are exacerbated in our development.

The baggage we’re inevitably dealt (and it’s all relative) will play on those characteristics, mapping out our emotional intelligence, to be unraveled in late adolescence and early adulthood as we test the waters on our own. The career choices and relationships we choose to foster will then continue to weave its way into the fabric of our being.

If we feel far from the truth of equanimity, something in us has gotta give. Many of us emerge into adulthood very attached to our past labels, our wounds and heartaches, our trials and tribulations. Our thought patterns become very addictive, comforting, regardless how negative they are. Once we’re confronted with the realities of equanimity and whether we exhibit it or not, we can begin to bring awareness and real change into our standard operating procedures.

Equanimity is essentially an umbrella for our most coveted human virtues: integrity, honesty, empathy, authenticity, patience, compassion, etc.

It is within the grace of a deep breath that we can pause and recognize the control we actually have, the way we respond in each moment is entirely within our power, and we no longer need to recycle old patterns.

It is the resounding voice in our guts that remind us this, too, shall pass. It is the intelligence in us that knows change is the only constant on earth, and somewhere along the way, we must yield to it, surrender control of everything outside of ourselves and head into the day choosing to accept the moment as it arrives.

Equanimity allows for choices in how we perceive and interpret the world around us, choosing to take trivial matters less personally, letting them affect us less deeply, so we can live lighter. We understand on a fundamental level that life is an unpredictable, surprising and challenging journey.

If we choose to accept the moment as it comes instead of assuming the world will rise to our expectations, we’ll find ourselves better equipped to handle the inescapable ups and downs dealt along the way. We all possess this capability, it is a mere choice.

To accept equanimity as a state of being, I wrote this pledge to myself:

I choose to see the lessons in my bad days, in my mistakes, and in every heart ache. 

I will no longer yearn for what was, wonder ‘why me?’, or what-if my way to the future. 

I will recognize the inherent strength in vulnerability and trust myself in responding to whatever tough days challenge me moving forward. 

I will do my very best to choose love over fear, understanding over being right, and conscious breaths over fuming disbelief. 

I accept myself and every moment that has led me here. 

I understand all pain is the same and no one deserves it more or less than I do. 

I will never forget what a gift it is simply to be alive. 

If I have my breath, equanimity is just a deep inhale and long exhale away.

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