I’m writing this week from the Frankfurt Airport, on my way home from a long weekend in Basel Switzerland with my wife. I really needed this weekend away, as I’ve been pretty wiped out by the push to finish the book, and the follow on sinus infection.
Just before I left, my Mussar practice shifted to Equanimity, which is also known as “Calmness of the Soul.” My initial thought was – perfect, some rest and relaxation, just what I need to restore my Equanimity. As is often the case with Mussar, the truth is a bit more complicated.
Most people can relax and become/maintain calm when everything is perfect. When we’re rested and our needs are taken care of, it is very easy to keep your cool. Retreating to a quiet place for a weekend to meditate doesn’t really help in the day to day. For example, many times when I was in the working world, I’d return from a vacation refreshed and renewed, which lasted for about 90 minutes. By the second or third email/phone call of substance, my stress was pegged again. While vacation is important for rest and renewal, it is not the same thing as building “Calmness of the Soul.”
This week, I’ve been looking at stress points as opportunities to practice Equanimity. This awareness in itself has been transformative. For example, one morning I woke up early and decided to meditate. There was a loud noise from the other room that was trying to bother me. I say trying because I said to myself, ” This is a test. Can you continue the meditation with that constant irritant?” It took an extra level of concentration, but I was able to do it. I think the secret was that I primed myself to look for opportunities to stay calm when normally I would become irritated.
I’m curious to see how things develop for over the remainder of the month. Often I start strong, but get tired trying to maintain Equanimity.
What has your experience been? Can You Stay Calm When Your Buttons Are Pushed?