Discovering equanimity is a three step process; once you have cleared the path and started building for equanimity, the final step is maintaining focus on equanimity.
The Law of Conservation of Energy, (the first law of thermodynamics) states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; energy can only be transferred or changed from one form to another. This is a great way to view our thoughts.
Where our focus goes, our energy flows. We are not adding or subtracting energy, simply transferring or changing it to a different form. When in a state of overwhelm, trying to do more and push through will likely expand the sense of overwhelm. The best way to shift the sense of overwhelm is to pause, take a break, breathe and re-evaluate what is most important to focus on in the moment.
You can look at a list and know, “Okay. This needs to get done first, then this, and after that I can focus n this. But immediately, I only have one task at hand to focus on.” The overwhelm resolves and with each task mastered, a sense of success grows. You can build on those successes, essentially transferring energy into useful actions.
Maintaining evenness of mind, especially under stress, is something you train for when not under stress. This starts with paying attention to what you focus on, the stories you tell yourself (and others), and your worldview (the world is beautiful and most people are doing the best they can or the world is a scary place, to each their own, and people can’t be trusted). Also useful is practicing mindfully turning inward to tap into the well of wisdom and peace that exists within all of us.
When stress comes, and it always will, those who do the work in non-stressful times are more likely to remain in repose.
When you feel off-centered or out of sorts (or worse), pause and reflect on the following questions:
- What is really happening right now?
- Is it true that is what is happening or just my perception?
- If it is true, how do I absolutely know it’s true?
- What do I need in this moment to bring more clarity, perspective, and balance into the picture?
Then take a full minute to breathe slowly and deeply, pressing your feet down into the floor (bonus if you can stand barefoot on some grass) and say to yourself, “I am here now.” Notice how your body begins to feel during that minute. When the time is complete, list what needs to happen and begin tackling the list.
This work requires commitment and willingness to explore and possibly fail. It may require assistance to reframe old self-limiting beliefs and stories. Ask for help when you need it.
The return on investment is enormous. Clarity being one of the greatest pay-off’s. Not wasting time on anger, worry, or anxiety. Not getting caught in the trap of self-limitations. And certainly engaging empathy to see multiple perspectives for any given situation in order to take thoughtful, quick action in the right direction.
One last note on focusing on equanimity. If you find your focus continually in a place of frustration and resentment, it is time to practice courageous self-honesty. What are you getting out of putting yourself in such a situation? Not being aligned with your joy serves no one and only distances the people who you most need in your life. You owe it to yourself (and those who love you) to say “no” more to things that do not bring you joy and “yes” to the things that do.