At the end of 2020, there was a social media "game" going around asking, "What is your word for 2021?" I'm a fan of playing along and with the craziness of 2020 coming to a close, I chose the word equanimity. Ahhhh, the word provoked imagery of me standing still and self-assured, no matter what comes my way.
e·qua·nim·i·ty /ˌekwəˈnimədē/noun mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation
Little did I know that choosing this word, equanimity, was incredibly prophetic. 2021, as it opened up its' doors, has proved to be one of the toughest years of my life. Because of the practice of mindfulness and equanimity, along with the work that I have done on my overall health over the years, I was able to emerge a bit stronger than I was in 2020. I want to share the benefits of practicing equanimity that have shown up in my life to inspire you to learn more about this practice.
Making my way through adversity has never felt like an option for me. It began as a child and persisted through my teenage years. Leaving home at seventeen years old, I had to figure out how to make things work, find the money I needed and accept that my reality was harder than others and easier than the rest. Before I began transforming my life in my early 30’s, the way I moved through trying times was harmful to my well-being and sometimes hurtful to others. Having spent 18 years of my life walking on egg shells around an abusive father, I had learned to react quickly and strongly. I had put on a pretty heavy suit of armor in my younger years to protect myself from the body shaming I experienced in grade school and the chaos in our home. Criticism was hard for me because I ignored the lessons and instead allowed it to define my self-worth.
As I moved through the stages of change, becoming increasingly self-aware, I began to disconnect my worth from my experiences. My actions started to follow and my reactions slowly began to shift until they became instilled into my life. As a result, my days looked, felt, sounded and tasted more peaceful and more calm. Don't get me wrong, I still feel all emotions. The difference, after the work I have done, resides in a high-level of happiness that has given me the strength to get up faster, with fewer bruises than in the past.
Allow me to bring you back to a turning point in 2021. On June 8th, 2021, a few weeks after it felt like a bomb dropped on my life, I was scrolling through Instagram and discovered a profile that said "Joey Weber - Equanimity Enthusiast." I had no idea that such an expert existed so I immediately wrote him to connect. Before we did, he politely suggested that I read his newly released book, Why Mindfulness is Not Enough, Unlocking Compassion with Equanimity. Upon reading the first chapter, I knew we needed to collaborate. This didn't feel like a coincidence. The work that Joey is doing so perfectly supported me through confronting some of the scariest and uncomfortable moments in my adulthood and naturally connected to what we are building at NOCK Collaborative.
Equanimity allows for a greater and more introspective pause before reacting. It encourages examination of self and others using compassion as the driving force. Over the last eight years, I have shed the unnecessary drama that had so often filled up my life by employing new boundaries with myself and others. After years of practicing mindfulness and exploring healing modalities, my past addiction to the highs and lows has been replaced by a strong desire for self-reflection and stability. Discovering equanimity has presented another supportive layer to uphold my overall health and well-being.
Equanimity has helped provide more ease in times of distress and more curiosity in times of confusion. It has helped me form a commitment to making a difference instead of making a statement.
As Joey's book title proclaims, mindfulness is not enough! A powerful gateway to addressing the non-judgement piece of mindfulness, equanimity helps us accept and examine our judgements and come forward with greater compassion for self and others. Equanimity has helped me show up differently and continue to quiet the voice in my head. I rarely get upset if someone expresses a different view than mine and most of the time, I feel nothing more than curiosity. Encountering hardship and misfortune while simultaneously working to build an early stage start-up, equanimity has helped me step back and examine what it is I need to do that is best for the company, the team and my well-being. It has helped me and our team take an approach free from labels or set, stringent belief systems. I have noticed that my automatic, outward response to fear or threat have completely shifted. Instead of defending myself, I have learned to tap into my inner thoughts and what I know to be true about every situation. Rather than be outwardly upset if I am misunderstood or a situation is misrepresented, I process with someone close to me or independently, before examining the facts and deciding what action I will take. My knee-jerk reaction is to step back, observe, release my emotions in a healthy way and create a plan to move forward.
Because of equanimity, I have been able to commit to never stop getting back into the incredible game of life and I accept that mistakes are inevitable and valuable. Equanimity has helped provide more ease in times of distress and more curiosity in times of confusion. It has helped me form a commitment to making a difference instead of making a statement.
You can purchase "Why Mindfulness is Not Enough," HERE (available as an Ebook, on Audible or signed, hard copy).
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