A natural process in meditation for many people is the development of equanimity- the ability to let go. Equanimity allows us to detach ourselves from thoughts and images that attempt to distract us from the Now. As we sit and meditate our minds may become distracted by things like What will I have for lunch? or ‚I should be doing……or Why did I? Equanimity allows us to gently and persistently bring ourselves back to the moment. No guilt, no sense of failure, no idea of I must try harder. Just a gentle and persistent return to the Now.
When this feeling carries over into the rest of our world we begin applying equanimity to our daily life. We typically lose much of the why me? and it isn’t fair‚ kind of thinking. We might spend more time in the Now, truly interacting with the people around us and seeing our environment in a mindful and sensitive way.
Equanimity and the return to the Now can help when our minds start to work in circles, become unduly anxious about something in the future or past, or obsess on a given thought or phrase. It also allows us to release negative thoughts and emotions about our daily aggravations and irritations. That petty squabble with a spouse or coworker never gets a chance to be over-thought or blown out of proportion if our equanimity allows us to release the conflict and return to a more centered and grounded mental state. The same process allows many people to release the persistent thoughts that keep them awake at night, as their minds refuse to let go of their waking activities.
Other people sometimes misinterpret our equanimity as an I don’t care attitude. Actually, we wouldn’t have to apply our ability to release things if we didn’t care. A better interpretation would be I care but it wouldn’t be productive for me to hang on to this thought, feeling image, or emotion.
For me, equanimity is the source of that small smile I often wear. It’s not amusement at the foibles and foolishness of the people around me, it’s the result of recognizing my own silliness at becoming entangled in the snares my mind creates out of unnecessary attachments to things that won’t do me any good. I release them and smile at the human nature that causes even those of us who know better to be caught up in such futile exercises.
Meditation has many benefits for the practitioner and the development of equanimity is only one of them. The ability to release nonproductive or unnecessary attachments in our mind helps bring out that sense of peace and serenity that should be a mainstay of our daily lives.
Jim – Serenity Community Member