Friday, February 25, 2011

Equanimity is A Process


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When you're facing illness or pain, coming to face it with equanimity is a process. While I've made great strides in the process of meeting myself where I am, I need some work on meeting others where they are.

Teacher Shinzen Young (check out his awesome book/CD combo Break Through Pain) says this about equanimity:

It's radical noninterference with the natural flow of sensory experience. If you have emotions in the body you don't push them down, but you don't latch on to them inappropriately, either.

Another way of looking at it is training your sensory circuits not to interfere with themselves. 

Equanimity is a fundamental skill for self-exploration and emotional intelligence. It is a deep and subtle concept frequently misunderstood and easily confused with suppression of feeling, apathy or inexpressiveness.

Equanimity comes from the Latin word aequus meaning balanced, and animus meaning spirit or internal state.

Sometimes I get so frustrated when someone laments his or her health in a "poor me, why me" way. Like I've never done that or something! In some ways my tendency is to have more compassion for other people than I have for myself, but I'm also incredibly judgmental and impatient. This has been an 8 year process for me to get where I am today. It may take someone else less time or more time. There is no right time to become more comfortable with what feels like an unbearable situation. Your time frame is your time frame, and I have to learn to respect it.

What I can do is share with others what has helped me in hopes it might help them. I can offer support and empathy. I can show patience even when it's hard to do so. I can have compassion. And I can feel grateful that I'm not suffering as much as I once did now that I know I have a choice in suffering even if I don't have a choice about feeling physical or emotional pain.

How to you remind yourself to treat others with the kind of patience and compassion you wish you receive?


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DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site constitutes medical or legal advice. I am a patient who is engaged and educated and enjoys sharing my experiences and news about migraines, pain and depression. Please consult your own health care providers for advice on your unique situation.