This word is somewhat new to my vocabulary and has quickly become one of my favorites.  I learned about it in Jeff Warren’s Calm meditation entitled “The Daily Trip” which I highly recommend for anyone looking to install a regular meditation practice.

Merriam Webster defines Equanimity as “Evenness of mind, especially under stress” and secondarily “Right disposition:  Balance.”

We all have a sense of what it means to be balanced, although if you’re human you might have a hard time staying in that space consistently.  But what drew me to this word specifically, is another meaning of equanimity I picked up from the many mediation sessions with Jeff Warren.  As he says, it also means something like “Everything is allowed to be here.”

Now you’re talking!  I think it resonates so deeply with me because over my life, I spent decades trying to sift out the bad, and only experience the good.  In my case, the “bad” meant sorrow and the intense feelings of emptiness, grief and profound loss that I experience (yes,still) as a result of my Daughter Alexis dying in 1997, and my Son Emanuel dying in 2002.

Among other challenges in my life like the loss of friends who died by suicide, murder and terminal illness, these losses all fell in a category of “not allowed.”  What I mean by that is, from the moment someone dies we are on a life long mission to “recover” or “move on” or “get over it.” The cultural mandate for us to do so is unmistakeable.

If you have been on a similar journey, you have learned like I did, that this mission is literally impossible. But our environment continues to hold this as a worthy goal. So we keep trying to feel better. Whatever that means.

Equanimity, the idea that “everything is allowed to be here” turns this goal upside down. It means we can end the relentless grasping for the peace that comes from only allowing the good, and finding a way to bury the painful parts of our life. Equanimity means the pain is welcome too. So we are not exonerated from the emotional pain that is ours, but we are relieved of the struggle to pretend its not there.

This concept has literally changed the way I feel about everything. If you have ever tried to accomplish an impossible mission, for decades even, and then learned one day that the mission has ended, you may be able to relate to the relief I have found from this thought paradigm shift.

I still miss my children. I still ache with grief. I still sometimes ask whether or not those things really happened.

But that is not a permanent state either. It comes and goes. The difference now is I welcome it all, and seek equanimity instead of fake states of resisting any of it.

As Glennon Doyle says “Pain is the receipt we have for loving. Why would we want to give that away?”

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