Thursday, October 23, 2008

what is equanimity?

There is no such thing as a slow day at work. And so, last night was the end of yet another long day. I relaxed by catching up on the latest updates to my favorite blogs and reading any mail I might get. I eat a little food. I tend to spend too much time doing this, reluctant to go to sleep. In the end I face the next day deprived of rest and with indigestion. When I thought about how self-defeating this was, I reflected on the importance of responding to stress with equanimity. That doesn't mean blocking out my feelings when something happens to me, but behind it is a realization that coping with stress by craving for pleasure tends to be counterproductive. So how does one maintain equanimity?

Creating a task list was not an entirely useless exercise. Looking over it, I see an eclectic mix of activities, all of which point to developing a more peaceful life in tune with the world around me. But I don't have to do any of them in order to have peace. A big part of equanimity is knowing that everything you need you have right now. Through the clouds of greed and ambition, people have been saying this for a long time.

"I've all I need. There's nothing I lack."

Diogenes had equanimity, but I seldom find myself at peace with this feeling. Nonetheless, I need it if I am to be able to plan for tomorrow. And I need to know what I will do tomorrow if I am to have any peace for today. It's a positive feedback system; peace is in many ways a sense of security in the future.

This last Halloween I was Garth (of SNL's Wayne's World), but next year I might try to dress in costume as Diogenes of Sinope wandering the streets with a lamp during the day looking for a human being.

-edited 04 November 2008

Having learned about the therapeutic properties of hot and cold cycles in traditional sauna use, it seems very clear that a sense of equanimity is not arrived at purely through a change in mind (perspectives, concepts, etc.). Perhaps even more importantly, it requires positive changes in one's physical body (nutrition, fitness, organ functioning, etc.). The combination of both being optimal.

-last edited 07 November 2008

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