Equanimity is one of the four sublime, or divine states we cultivate through mindfulness practice, including Lovingkindness, Compassion, and Sympathetic Joy. We cannot will our self to be equanimous, it takes practice, practice, practice in steadying the mind under all conditions. The practice of non-attachment, accepting what is and letting go, all give rise to a steadiness of mind even when exposed to emotions, pain, or other phenomena that may lead to others losing balance of mind.We cannot will ourself into this state, it unfolds and arises out of reaching deep insights and an ability to respond from wisdom and compassion.
As a solid rock cannot be moved by the wind,
the wise are not shaken by praise or blame.
When they listen to the words of the dharma,
their minds become calm and clear like the waters of a still lake.
(translated by Eknath Easwaran)
Viewing 2020 as a bootcamp for equanimity has helped me turn toward my practice and the teachings as a refugee. Fortunately the ability to access these resources rather than turning to other maladaptive behaviors that serve to numb, avoid, or deny the reality of the pain and chaos of this year has made all the difference in my current state of mind. having the steady practice to focus attention consistently on the present moment, even while recovering from COVID 19 served as a way to maintain clarity and enabled me to see both good and bad, pain and pleasure, loss and gain with greater discernment and to respond to the challenges with wise attention. Despite many obstacles and detours along the way I managed most days to proceed on the path of mindfulness and when I faltered I got back up and returned to my practices and supports.
How did I manage this? I must say it was very simple, yet not easy and most certainly required great supports. I reflected this weekend on what supported me to reach the eight month mark of this pandemic, and all the trials, tribulations, and tragedies of 2020 and still feel strong, grounded, full of love, and hope.I would like to share a few and hopefully illuminate a path for those still struggling with feelings of hopelessness and helplessness to seek refuge. Here is what has helped me….
- Maintaining a daily practice of mindfulness meditation, that included training attention and concentration while also opening and inviting the full experience of moment to moment awareness.
- Making life a practice in presence. Seeing, feeling, and awakening to the full spectrum of events and emotions, without being caught up in one or the other.
- Letting go and accepting the present moment reality with all the changes and challenges and living skillfully with greater compassion, lovingkindness, and gratitude for all of it.
- Recognizing the ways “I” lose balance and presence and what triggers the reactivity that leads to dwelling in the past or the future “what if’s” or wishes that cloud me from the wisdom of the present.
- Meeting challenges and failures with greater self compassion, forgiveness, and humility.
- Most importantly all the love and kindness from the Sacred Treehouse Sangha, my MMTCP mentor and peers, the incredible Oasis consultation team/family, and my friends and family who have all served as beacons of light, love, and inspiration at a time where many are painting a picture of the world as ugly, violent, and therefore hopeless. I can still see light!!!
With deepest gratitude to all….
May all beings know peace, love,
and never give up hope!
Patty and all the Sacred Treehouse Faculty
P.S. Last chance to sign up for the virtual retreat day this Saturday as a special treat on Halloween to return to center and deepen your practice in a supportive community. SIGN UP HERE!
Patty Thomas Shutt, founder of Sacred Treehouse, is a licensed psychologist and co-owner of Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches. Dr. Shutt is passionate about helping others discover the benefits of mindfulness and meditation. She offers Beginner Meditation & Advanced Meditation classes at Sacred Treehouse, in addition to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindful Self-Compassion and various book studies throughout the year.