It seems that almost everyone is caught up in some sort of crisis or conflict, be it at work or at home. It might be stress around processes, deadlines, budgets and job security, or personal relationships and unresolved conflicts. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
What is equanimity?
Equanimity is the capacity to remain neutral, to observe from a distance, and be at peace without getting caught up in what we observe. It’s the capacity to see the big picture with understanding. In essence, it is about taking nothing personally, refusing to get caught up in the drama—either our own or others.
Equanimity allows us to remain upright in the face of the strong winds of conflict and crisis, such as: blame, failure, pain, or disrepute – the winds that set us up for suffering when they begin to blow. Equanimity protects us from being “blown over” and helps us stay on an “even keel.”
How do we develop equanimity?
There are several qualities that support the development of equanimity. One is integrity. Integrity helps us to feel confident when we speak and act. It fosters an equanimity that results in “blamelessness,” feeling comfortable in any setting or with any group without the need to find fault or blame.
Another quality that supports equanimity is faith – not necessarily a religious or theological faith, but faith based on wisdom, conviction or confidence.
A third quality is that of a well-developed mind a mind that reflects stability, balance and strength. We develop such a mind through a conscious and consistent practice of focus, concentration, attention and mindfulness.
A fourth quality is a heightened sense of well-being which we develop by engaging in practices or activities that take us out of our robotic, ego-driven life and help us focus on a higher or deeper sense of consciousness.
A fifth quality that supports equanimity is understanding or wisdom which allows us to accept, be present and aware to our experience without our mind or heart resisting or contracting. In this place we separate people from their actions; we agree or disagree while being in balance with them. We take nothing personally.
Another quality is knowing that others create their own reality so we are able to exhibit equanimity in the face of others’ pain or suffering and not feel we need to take responsibility for their well-being in the face of their conflict or crisis.
A seventh quality that supports equanimity is seeing reality for what it is, for example, that change and impermanence are a fact of life. We become detached and less clingy to our attachments. This means letting go of negative judgments about our experience and replacing them with an attitude of loving kindness or acceptance and a compassionate matter-of-factness. The more we become detached, the deeper we experience equanimity.
The final quality is freedom – letting go of our need to be reactive so we can observe without needing to get caught up in the fray – maintaining a consistent relaxed state within our body as sensations (e.g., strong, subtle, pleasant, unpleasant, physiological, or emotional) move through.
Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D, C.P.C. is a founding partner of SpiritHeart, an Atlanta-based company that supports conscious living through coaching, counseling and facilitating. SpiritHeart’s focus in the business arena is on the interpersonal skills that enable individuals to work together productively with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction. This “soft skills” focus support leaders, managers and supervisors to effectively lead, manage, supervise, encourage, teach, guide, and coach others — unhampered by interpersonal issues that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, and productive workplace culture and environment.