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What is "Equanimity"?  Why should we develop it?   Is stability and composure in the face of stress important to you?  Here are 3 principles to develop a foundation for equanimity...

 


Equanimity is the ability to maintain composure and stability when facing experiences that challenge your psychological and emotional balance.


In Florida we see evidence of how palm trees are very adaptable in the face of stormy weather. They flex and maintain resiliency through the strongest winds and rain conditions.

After the storm, they may remain leaning in one direction or the other, but the fact is they maintain their stability...and in some ways represent equanimity.
 

Wellness Counseling Services enjoyed conducting our most recent Mindfulness workshop at The Bodhi Tree House in Wynwood in September.  Mindfulness is a practice which we consistently discuss and develop. It includes an understanding of compassion and lovingkindness, towards oneself and others.  

Equanimity can be considered the foundation for maintaining compassion, lovingkindness and joy.

 

 
WHAT ARE 3 PRINCIPLES TO DEVELOP EQUANIMITY?



 
 
1. NON-DUALITY
 
Many philosophies and teachings have much to say about the concept of non-duality.  For our purposes, it is useful to think about establishing a fluid and embracing concept of the self.  When managing stressful situations in life, the individual will be most resilient and capable of remaining stable if they are first of all, not feeling divided from within themselves.

Having a divisive concept of oneself which fosters an "all or nothing" view adds distress when coping with an external situation that is stressful.  Evaluating yourself as as either a success or failure, fosters a dilemma that adds to stress. With non-duality there is a softening and a loving view of oneself that is compassionate and non-judgmental.  
One could develop this with the sense of compassion and kindness to "accept oneself as 100% fallible and 100% lovable."  
  

                             


Regardless of one's belief system, religion or lack of faith in a higher power, there is evidence that the individual who practices an awareness and acceptance of the self as "whole" and also part of a "whole universe" will be more likely to sustain emotional and psychological balance.  

Instead of viewing yourself as isolated and separate from your community, society or the universe, you view yourself as connected and part of a universal experience - even if that experience in this moment is one of pain
.  In fact, many teach that embracing the universal experience of pain supports the development of equanimity in the individual. 

"When pain is to be born, a little courage helps more than much knowledge, a little human sympathy more than courage, and the least tincture of the love of God more than all."
- C. S. Lewis, "The Problem With Pain."


"There is no coming to consciousness without pain.  People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious."
- Carl Jung


Rather than seeing pain or difficult situations as our enemy, consider the value of these life experiences as a meaningful part of life as a whole, in the context of your whole life and the whole universe.  This non-duality concept provides a supportive foundation for equanimity. 

 
2.  NON-ATTACHMENT

 
We should differentiate between non-attachment and un-attachment.  Non-attachment has more to do with cultivating the mindset that is not grasping or desperately holding onto anyone or anything.  This allows for a open emotional experience and satisfaction with receiving and not receiving. Many philosophies and teachings underscore how this approach allows an individual to relieve emotional distress. 

Un-attachment is more of a detached posture and is characterized by a rigid approach to resisting. It is not open to experiences or relationships "good" or "bad".


When life presents changes that are challenging, and sometimes include "loss", the ability to have a non-attached mindset helps maintain resilience and composure.  It facilitates accepting of life situations both "good" and "bad" and helps us maintain a balanced composure.  It actually shifts away from labeling experiences as good or bad and just accepts them as they are and not how we think we want them to be.


Read stories that illustrates this concept

 
 
3.  PHYSICAL PRACTICE


 
Sometimes the best way to train our brain to respond differently is to practice in the physical realm.  Even the most simple exercises can illustrate the concepts of equanimity.

Mindfully developing equanimity in your body will provide the intuitive understanding in you mind.  Here are some examples:

Body Scan -
Begin to scan your body from head to toe as if you were observing from outside of your body
  • Observe if there are any sensations that are experienced as pleasant or unpleasant
  • Allow yourself equal time on each part of the body, not lingering on the pleasant sensations nor rushing through any that are unpleasant
  • In each body part, before  moving to the next area, tighten or clench the muscles, then relax and breath relaxation into the body part
  • When that is complete, view the body as a whole noticing it as one unit and see if you can maintain a sense of overall relaxation and breath throughout the body as a whole
  • Observe if any part of the body has become tense again and repeat the process of tightening and breathing relaxation into that part of the body
  • If discomfort remains, just observe it from perspective of the whole body and notice that  you can welcome this state of being without judging or rejecting it.  This develops a practice of equanimity in the body and the mind.  You may be able to reproduce this state more frequently in other situations.
Yoga Postures - 
Yoga can be seen as the "yoke" or joining of body and mind. As you practice yoga poses on your own or in a group setting, keep in mind that you can set an intention to learn the inner teaching of each pose as it applies to your psychological fitness.  

View these tips for basic poses that encourage balance


Regardless of which yoga poses you try, keep in mind how you are experiencing each sensation in your body throughout the posture.  Does it feel relaxing or like a strain?  Do muscles feel tight or flexible?  Does it seem like it's too long or not long enough?  Notice how to remove the sense of duality in your body.  Work on both sides with equal focus and observe the body as a whole.  Create opportunity to try new postures without attachment to the familiar. Find where you lack stability and where you are developing strength and composure - see equanimity in your physical practice lead you into an inner state of equanimity as well.

 
May each of us be steady and composed as we face the challenges and sometimes painful experiences that life ushers us through.  May we welcome each experience with courage and equanimity!
 
Therapy provides an opportunity to reflect on lifestyle patterns, gain insight, and learn new tools to develop a healthier, balanced way of living.

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At Wellness Counseling Services we offer individual psychotherapy, personal coaching, couples counseling and family therapy.  We use an integrative approach, offering training in Mindfulness meditation for stress management. We provide Neurofeedback, a non-invasive and innovative brain training program used to remedy symptoms and enhance mental performance. Contact us for more details. 
 
Wellness Counseling Services
905 Brickell Bay Drive Suite 228
The Four Ambassadors, Tower 2
Mezzanine Level
Miami, FL 33131-2923

 
 

Marianne Cortes, LMHC
Lydia C. Cerpa, LCSW
305-335-6455


info@thewellnesscounseling.com
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