Updated: Oct 22, 2020
We live in extremely challenging times. Between political unrest, a worldwide pandemic, and natural disasters life in today's world is a challenge. No, I’ll have to say that in some cases, this is more than a challenge, it can be trauma causing. In the Zen tradition, they speak of the idea of non-duality, the sometimes-confusing translation of embodying the perception all things. Not focusing on one side of the equation only. It is suggested that we look at and keeping our view on both sides of the coin. That we go beyond one-sided thinking. It is said that by this we maintain balance, and through this middle way, we find peace. Now comes the hard part, to maintain our balanced gaze upon the life around us. Holding that balance of perspective without aversion and without recoil. Psychology speaks of the studies in man's response and acclimatizes to trauma. In this discipline is the understanding of man's response to trauma; the four F’s…fight, flight, freeze, fawn. Most of us are familiar with the first two but psychological theorists have stumbled across the last two more recently. Freeze, the art of imitating a deer in the headlights is an easily understood behavior. However, the most recent psychological notion of fawning or the act of going along with and giving in to the situation. Another way of looking at it is the giving up your own personal interests with the hopes that you will be spared from the threat before you.
Equanimity calls us to go beyond these four F's and take on the spirit of acceptance. It calls us to stay present, in the moment, and to keep our rational mind intact while at the same time allowing for our most precious part of ourselves to arise, our spirit, and bring forth our creativity and solutions for the situation before us. Unfortunately, this is extremely hard. Simply stating or reading it in a blog is an intellectual endeavor and not really a sign of personal transformation. Readings like this, ideas, and philosophies can only point solutions. Our path requires that we do not freeze and that step into the adventure of the soul to gain wisdom about who we are and what the world is around us. Trauma is a funny thing; human beings are wired over thousands of years to respond to what is perceived as being a dangerous world. And in that response, we've evolved in such a way that neurologically our minds shunt particular parts of our brain in order to respond decisively to the physical threats around us. The rub, many of the threats that we live in today are not physical but are more spiritual and intellectual. Our biological minds have not caught up to the change. But again, not to fall into dualistic perspectives. To be only a mind sitting atop of a brainstem attached to a spinal cord sounds like too much of a simplified view of who we are. So, the practice of equanimity urges us to maintain that balance… the balance between spirit and mind the balance between light and dark. And so, because practice is not merely intellectual… it is… practice. An act that requires action or behavior in the world and cannot only be intellectual. Maintaining equanimity in today's days and times requires an awareness and commitment to the present moment. Something that our traumatic history inclines us to pull away, to run, to freeze and do nothing, or maybe even to just give in. Equanimity urges us to lean into the moment with our eyes wide open and to follow another part of us that sometimes takes a quiet backseat, our spirit. To make room for our nature of hope and joy and excitement. All things in balance within a world of turmoil.
Gassho fellow travelers.