Current mood: concerned, anxious, stressed. Distilled into a shot of lemon ginger turmeric (that you sip on by yourself at home). Quarantini?
You may be feeling a strong undercurrent of anxiety, permeating your inbox and public interactions. The sound of a cough, bare grocery store aisles, your favourite coffee shop or yoga studio temporarily closed, concern over loved ones abroad – all of these impressions can trigger a strong physical and mental response.
In recent days, an overwhelming amount of data and new information has been telling us how to interact out in the world. Or urging us to self-isolate.
While much is unclear, one thing we know for sure: panic and stress work to suppress our immune systems. In other words, the opposite of thriving well.
As we continue taking the necessary precautions (handwashing 1234%#! times a day, boosting immunity and cancelling all travel plans), now is a good time to stay in touch with peace, trust and community.
Buddhist Heart Teachings
One mindful practice can be turning to the four Buddhist Brahma-viharas (highest emotions or heart teachings). These are:
- lovingkindness (metta)
- compassion (karuna)
- empathetic joy (mudita)
- equanimity (upekkha)
The fourth teaching – equanimity – is all about attachment (i.e. detachment) to outcomes. Rather than indifference, it’s a state of letting go and focusing on what can be changed.
In Mindfulness, A Practical Guide to Awakening, Joseph Goldstein describes equanimity whereby: “we can do what we do with full commitment, but the outcome is often beyond our control. When we act without attachment to the outcome, then our minds remain peaceful no matter how things unfold.”
Sharon Salzberg, Insight Meditation Society co-founder and teacher, refers to equanimity as a “spacious stillness of mind, a radiant calm that allows us to be present fully with all the different changing experiences that constitute our world and our lives.”
Studies are proposing that our overall well-being is better served by learning to cultivate equanimity. Both as a way to respond to whatever comes up and as a healthy habit to work on over time.
In this case, we’re able to keep doing our part and stay connected (without losing our sanity).
A Meditation for Equanimity + Connection
To help us move fluidly through stressful times and connect to a collective calm, here are a few mantras to practice at home or out in the woods.
Try repeating each mantra once with “I”, then with “we/us”. Notice any softening and levity that arises.
I choose peace. Peace moves through us all.
I am at ease. We are all connected to ease.
I feel safe, grounded and supported. We support each other.
I am a beacon of love and hope. We share in cultivating love and hope.
I am a breath of fresh air. We are all breathing together.
Social distancing doesn’t have to mean social disconnection. The world is uniting in a beautiful way, and perhaps more mindfully than ever.
While we can’t control everything that happens in the world or what we’re exposed to, we can come together and rinse our minds of anxious thoughts. With deep, grateful, purifying breaths ?